chapter  2
14 Pages

The Paradoxes of Zionism in the Work of Albert Cohen


Today the facts of Albert Cohen’s Zionist engagement are established, even if their meaning continues to be a matter for discussion. The origin as well as the chronology of Cohen’s engagement are known, in particular the determining role of two encounters: the fi rst with André Spire, who became his literary and political mentor, and the second with Chaim Weizmann, whom Cohen entered into contact with in 1921 to propose his services. Weizmann brought the ephemeral Revue juive his intellectual support, his moral and political backing and sizeable fi nancial contributions. From then on, Cohen’s engagement on behalf of Zionism was never ceasing. While continuing to pursue his literary career, Cohen put to good use his relationship with the International Labor Organization (ILO) to, as much as he could, advance the Zionist cause. From 1939, fi rst in Paris and then in London, Cohen’s activities were concentrated on three fronts: the creation of a Jewish army to fi ght the Axis forces (which was aborted), a project to aide the refugees escaping to Palestine (which was largely crowned a success) and fi nally, the creation of a Committee of Intellectuals in Favor of the Zionist Cause (“Pro Causa Judaïca”) between 1939 and 1940. While in England from 1940 to 1944, Cohen never lost sight of his combat in favor of a Jewish state.