THE KAUF­MAN PROB­LEM

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT -

GER­ALD KAUF­MAN ap­pears to have added an­ti­semitism to his long history of anti-Is­rael ac­tivism. De­spite this — as I note in Ch­ester­ton and the Jews — in 1998, he com­pared Ch­ester­ton’s pro-Zion­ism to Hitler’s ap­proach, in an ar­ti­cle redo­lent with Holo­caust in­flu­ence: Ch­ester­ton’s fi­nal so­lu­tion.

Tak­ing a highly se­lec­tive ap­proach — not dif­fi­cult, since Ch­ester­ton al­ways stated both sides of an ar­gu­ment — and mis­in­ter­pret­ing a poem con­demn­ing the French for their treat­ment of Drey­fus as an an­ti­semitic di­a­tribe, he car­i­ca­tured gen­tile Zion­ism as mo­ti­vated by an­ti­semitism. This was de­spite the fact that Ch­ester­ton and peo­ple like Win­ston Churchill — who also saw the “Jewish prob­lem’’ as a cy­cle of “fric­tion’’ with non-Jews lead­ing to anti-Jewish violence, at­tribut­ing this to the lack of a Jewish home­land — were mo­ti­vated by fears for Jewish se­cu­rity.

Ad­mit­tedly, few gen­tile Zion­ists had com­pletely “pure’’ mo­ti­va­tions ac­cord­ing to our post-Holo­caust stan­dards, but it is in­ac­cu­rate to liken their views to Hitler’s, to whom Zion­ism was anath­ema. Ch­ester­ton’s Zion­ism stands the test of time much bet­ter than present-day crit­ics of the “Is­rael prob­lem’’, not least be­cause he lived — and died — be­fore the Holo­caust. Ann Farmer Wood­ford Green, Es­sex

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