After learning of the attack on Deir Yassin, Albert Einstein wrote a letter which was published in the New York Times on 12 April 1948 strongly condemning Jewish terrorism in Palestine. A reader, Aliza Brenner, took issue with his criticism.
On 3 May 1948, Einstein wrote a follow-up (co-authored with Rabbi Leo Baeck) explaining his position on Palestine’s Jews.
“I see from your letter…that you have misinterpreted the intention of our letter to the New York Times. We have not denied in any way to our people [the option] to stand and fight for their right. What we intended was to do our share to help prevent that our acts might be such that a peaceful solution will be made impossible. It is not our fault that terroristic elements have become influential in our ranks and are favored even by the American Jews in their dangerous and even criminal enterprises and methods. Great damage is done thereby to the moral value of our whole Palestine work and also to the attitude of the outside world towards us—from which, after all, our future depends. The proposals Dr. Baeck and myself made in the letter to the New York Times in no way involved any renunciation of our national independence and rights of immigration.”
“We feel it to be our duty to declare emphatically that we do not condone methods of terrorism and of fanatical nationalism any more if practiced by Jews than if practiced by Arabs. We hope that responsible Arabs will appeal to their people as we do to the Jews. Were war to occur, the peace would still leave the necessity of the two peoples working together, unless one or the other were exterminated or enslaved. Short of such a calamity, a decisive victory by either would yield a corroding bitterness. Common sense dictates joint efforts to prevent war and to foster cooperation now.”
[We appeal to Jews in Palestine] “not to permit themselves to be driven into a mood of despair or false heroism which eventually results in suicidal measures. While such a mood is understandable as a reaction to the wanton destruction of six million Jewish lives in the last decade, it is neverthless destructive morally as well as practically.” [A peaceful solution must be] “based on the concern for the welfare and cooperation of both Jews and Arabs in Palestine.”
Source: EINSTEIN, Albert. Typed letter signed to Aliza Brenner, 3 May 1948.