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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Arabs boycotted Einstein lecture in Jerusalem in 1923

From the JTA Archives, February 9, 1923:
A very representative gathering of notables, with the exeption of the Arabs, gathered to hear Professor Albert Einstein lecture on his theory of relativity at the Hebrew University House on Mt. Scopus, Wednesday night. Prominent Arab residents declined the invitation presumably because they did not wish to honor the Jewish scientist.

Speaking in Hebrew, M. Ussishkin welcomed the Professor on behalf of the Jewish community. Prof. Einstein began his speech in Hebrew and continued in French evoking great enthusiasm, as he touched on the phases of his theory. Sir Herbert Samuel, the High Commissioner, thanked the Professor for his work in the interests of humanity. He added: "It is a good sign for the Hebrew University that the first lecture is delivered by the greatest physicist in the world".

Zionism is not only a spiritual movement. Its practical work in Palestine is of equal consequence, Prof. Einstein told a Jewish audience at a reception arranged by leading organization here. The address of welcome was delivered by David Yellin, President of the Council of Jerusalem Jews who handed the Professor an illuminated testimonial with the signatures of the representatives of Palestine Jewry.

"The international recognization of Zionism has strengthened my belief in its success", the Professor said in the course of his address.
This was two years before the official opening of Hebrew University in 1925, but it is considered the first lecture ever given there.

According to this book, the lecture was attended by "English, French, Americans, etc., Catholics, Protestants, Templars, and the majority: Jews."