What Made Einstein Reject the Israeli Presidency?
The “Father of Relativity” could have served as Israel’s second president if he had wanted to.
Albert Einstein had a distinguished career as a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and the author of the most well-known equation in history. He did, however, decline the position of president of Israel, which is important.
Israel’s first president, Chaim Weizmann, said that Einstein was “the greatest Jew alive.”
Hence, when Weizmann passed away on November 9, 1952, there was only one obvious choice for his successor.
As a result, on November 17, Einstein received a letter from the Israeli Embassy formally extending the presidency to him.
The letter stated that even though he would have to go to Israel for work, he wouldn’t have to worry about it taking away from his other hobbies. After all, it was only the presidency.
“The Prime Minister assures me that in such circumstances complete facility and freedom to pursue your great scientific work would be afforded by a government and people who are fully conscious of the supreme significance of your labors,” Abba Ebban, an Israeli diplomat, wrote.
Einstein would have been a well-liked option even though he was 73 years old at the time. For starters, he had long been an advocate for the creation of a persecution-free haven for Jews as a German-born professor who sought asylum in America during Hitler‘s ascent to power.
“Zionism springs from an even deeper motive than Jewish suffering,” he is quoted as saying in a 1929 issue of the Manchester Guardian. “It is rooted in a Jewish spiritual tradition whose maintenance and development are for Jews the basis of their continued existence as a community.”
Furthermore, supporters of Einstein believed that his expertise in mathematics would have been beneficial to the developing state and that his initiative in founding the Hebrew University of Jerusalem signaled that he may be a willing candidate.
“He might even be able to work out the mathematics of our economy and make sense out of it,” one statistician said to TIME magazine.
Insisting that he was unqualified despite having a last name that is synonymous with “genius,” Einstein declined the opportunity. He also stated that he wouldn’t make a good pick due to his advanced age, lack of experience, and poor people skills. (Consider someone declining the president due to insufficient experience, advanced age, and poor people skills.)
“All my life I have dealt with objective matters, hence I lack both the natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people and to exercise official functions,” the man claimed in his letter.
Even though he was adamant about his choice, Einstein hoped it wouldn’t negatively affect his affiliation with the Jewish community, which he referred to as his “strongest human bond.”