In August 1929, three months before Einstein wrote his letter to the Arab newspaper Falastin, Arabs attacked Jewish settlements near Jerusalem. Disturbances soon spread throughout Palestine. After six days, British troops quelled the riots. More than 300 Jews were wounded, 135 were killed. To appease the Arabs, Britain prohibited Jews from living in Gaza and Hebron, two of the major areas of rioting.
On November 25, 1929, Einstein wrote to Chaim Weizmann, future first President of Israel, in part, “If we do not succeed in finding the path of honest cooperation and coming to terms with the Arabs, we will not have learned anything from our two thousand year old ordeal and will deserve the fate which will beset us.” In the postscript Einstein writes that he “would prefer the article for the Arabic newspaper to be translated here.”
The article to Azmi El-Nashashibi, editor of the Palestinian Arab newspaper Falastin, expressed Einstein’s views advocating reconciliation with the Arab population of Palestine. It was published on January 28, 1930. The newspaper Falastin was published in English and Arabic editions in Jaffa.
“One who, like myself, has cherished for many years the conviction that the humanity of the future must be built up on an intimate community of the nations, and that aggressive nationalism must be conquered, can see a future for Palestine only on the basis of peaceful cooperation between the two peoples who are at home in the country.
For this reason I should have expected that the great Arab people will show a truer appreciation of the need which the Jews feel to rebuild their national home in the ancient seat of Judaism; I should have expected that by common effort ways and means would be found to render possible an extensive Jewish settlement in the country.
I am convinced that the devotion of the Jewish people to Palestine will benefit all the inhabitants of the country, not only materially, but also culturally and nationally. I believe that the Arab renaissance in the vast expanse of territory now occupied by the Arabs stands only to gain from Jewish sympathy. I should welcome the creation of an opportunity for absolutely free and frank discussion of these possibilities, for I believe that the two great Semitic peoples, each of which has in its way contributed something of lasting value to the civilization of the West, may have a great future in common, and that instead of facing each other with barren enmity and mutual distrust, they should support each other’s national and cultural endeavors, and should seek the possibility of sympathetic co-operation. I think that those who are not actively engaged in politics should above all contribute to the creation of this atmosphere of confidence.
I deplore the tragic events of last August not only because they revealed human nature in its lowest aspects, but also because they have estranged the two peoples and have made it temporarily more difficult for them to approach one another. But come together they must, in spite of all.”