THE KAUFMAN PROBLEM
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