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Christopher Hitchens's Jewish Problem

The fact that Christopher Hitchens has a problem with the Jews has been an open secret for years. No one much likes to talk about it, and for various reasons his journalistic peers have remained silent on the subject. But it is nonetheless the case, and there is little sense in denying it.

The sixty-one-year-old Hitchens, a native of Great Britain and a recently naturalized U.S. citizen, is one of the most widely read and admired columnists in America, as well as a celebrated author who, in the words of the New York Times, "embraces the serious things, the things that matter: social justice, learning, direct language, the free play of mind, loyalty, holding public figures to high standards."

Hitchens's career began on the radical Left, with a strong affinity for the legacy of the Communist ideologue Leon Trotsky and his followers. His real gift, however, was not for ideology but for polemic, and his blistering prose quickly made him a literary celebrity, first in the pages of Britain's New Statesman and then, after he emigrated to America, as a regular columnist at the Nation. Before long, Hitchens's colorful opinions and even more colorful public image became fixtures of mainstream publications like Vanity Fair and the Atlantic.

For much of his career, Hitchens was known as a ferocious critic of American power and American policy. But in the 1990s, with the war in the Balkans and the long campaign to secure American intervention against the Serbs, he began a slow turnabout that would come to a head on September 11, 2001. Following the 9/11 atrocities, and the conspicuous failure of many of his left-wing comrades to acknowledge the guilt, and the threat, of radical Islam, Hitchens split from the Left for good, becoming one of the most vocal and, in conservative quarters, most prized supporters of the war on terror and American intervention in Iraq.

As a result of this about-face, Hitchens is now loathed both by his former comrades on the Left and by apologists for radical Islam. At the same time, many conservatives have proved willing to overlook his less palatable opinions: his implacable hatred of religion, for example, or his claims that Mother Teresa was morally depraved and that Henry Kissinger should be tried for war crimes. Nonetheless, it has been hoped that, along with his turn against the Left, Hitchens might have mellowed somewhat on the Jewish question, and in particular on his longstanding antipathy toward Israel. But this was not to be, as he took care to remind the world in a November 15 essay in the online magazine Slate, enchantingly titled "Israel's Shabbos Goy."

In this article, Hitchens's trademark indignation was aroused by the Obama administration's offer to Israel of various benefits in exchange for a moratorium on settlement building. Any such deal would have had to be approved by Israel's coalition government, one of whose members is Shas, a Sephardi religious party whose founder and spiritual leader is Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. The once-formidable scholar, referred to by Hitchens with typical subtlety as "this elderly Sephardic ayatollah" and a "scrofulous medieval figure," is now in his nineties and, as  evidenced by some recent nasty remarks about non-Jews, much in need of retirement. For Hitchens, however, Ovadia Yosef and his attitude toward Gentiles are not the real problem. The real problem is Judaism itself:

The only mystery is this: why does the United States acquiesce so wretchedly in its own disgrace at the hands of a virtual client state? A soft version of Rabbi Yosef's contemptuous view of the Gentiles is the old concept of the shabbos goy—the non-Jew who is paid a trifling fee to turn out the lights or turn on the stove, or whatever else is needful to get around the more annoying regulations of the Sabbath. How the old buzzard must cackle when he sees the Gentiles [i.e., America] actually volunteering a bribe to do the lowly work!

The tone of unrestrained invective in these passages is part of Hitchens's cachet as a writer. The substance, however, is very ugly stuff indeed, composed out of some of the most barbarous and reactionary stereotypes of the Jewish people. In one paragraph alone, Hitchens evokes an image of the Jews as preternaturally crafty, hypocritical, manipulative, supremacist, animalistic, and morally diseased creatures who, with the help of their corrupt talents, set themselves to exploiting Gentiles for financial gain and "cackle" with glee at the resultant spectacle. Nor is this sort of defamation particularly unusual for Hitchens, who has been writing similar things for years and, for the most part, getting away with it.


Hitchens's bestselling atheist jeremiad, God is Not Great (2007), provides an excellent overview of its author's sentiments on the topic of Jews and Judaism. While the book is ostensibly opposed to all religions equally, Hitchens goes out of his way not merely to criticize Judaism but to portray it in the ugliest possible terms, invoking many of the classic themes of anti-Semitism in order to do so.

He informs us, for example, of the "pitiless teachings of the God of Moses, who never mentions human solidarity and compassion at all," and whose Ten Commandments have nothing to say about "the protection of children from cruelty, nothing about rape, nothing about slavery, and nothing about genocide." Indeed, according to Hitchens, "some of these very offenses are . . . positively recommended" by the God of the Hebrews, with far-reaching historical consequences. According to Hitchens, the Jews' genocidal God and His order to drive the Canaanite tribes out of the land of Israel form the basis not only of a "19th-century irredentist claim to Palestine" but of the current debate among Israeli rabbis over "whether the demand to exterminate the Amalekites is a coded commandment to do away with the Palestinians." Who these rabbis might be, the extent of their influence, and whether anyone listens to them are questions that go mostly unaddressed.

For Hitchens, the evils he lists are not just religious tenets; they are ingrained in the Jews themselves. The rituals and practices of Judaism, he charges, are debased by the Jews' obsession with money, as exemplified by the "hypocrites and frauds who abound in talmudic Jewish rationalization" and who operate according to the principle: "'Don't do any work on the Sabbath yourself, but pay someone else to do it for you. You obeyed the letter of the law: who's counting?'" (Hitchens's world abounds, apparently, in dutiful shabbos goyim.)  Circumcision, he claims, is the "sexual mutilation of small boys" and "most probably a symbolic survival from the animal and human sacrifices which were such a feature of the gore-soaked landscape of the Old Testament." As for anti-Semitism, the Jews brought it on themselves. "By claiming to be 'chosen' in a special exclusive covenant with the Almighty," Hitchens writes, "they invited hatred and suspicion and evinced their own form of racism."

Hitchens's loathing for Judaism, or rather the grotesque caricature he refers to as Judaism, is particularly evident in his treatment of Hanukkah, a holiday marking the 2nd-century B.C.E. victory of a Jewish revolt led by the Maccabees. For Hitchens, the Maccabees' defeat of the Hellenistic regime of Antiochus Epiphanes was a disaster, because Antiochus, far from being a villainous tyrant, had "weaned many people away from the sacrifices, the circumcisions, the belief in a special relationship with God, and the other reactionary manifestations of an ancient and cruel faith."

To put it kindly, this is false; for the rather less benign details, one may consult I Maccabees and Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews. In brief, the "weaning away" lauded by Hitchens involved the forcible suppression of Jewish culture, religion, and ritual, along with torture, imperial occupation, and mass murder, including the slaughter of children: in other words, the very things that this self-proclaimed global humanist violently denounces whenever the Jews are not involved.

For Hitchens, the Jewish rejection of Hellenistic Greek culture in favor of what he calls "tribal Jewish backwardness" constitutes something like a crime against humanity. This belief is an important one, and he appears to have come by it very early on. In his recently published autobiography, Hitch-22, he laments that, in the world-historical struggle between Athens and Jerusalem, the former tragically lost out to the latter's "stone-faced demand for continence, sacrifice, and conformity, and the devising of ever-crueler punishments for deviance." The fact that, historically speaking, the "ever-crueler punishments for deviance" were inflicted by Athens upon Jerusalem, and not vice-versa, is something that, for Hitchens, is apparently not worth mentioning.

In short, Judaism is to blame for everything Hitchens hates about monotheism as a whole. "As a convinced atheist, I ought to agree with Voltaire," he writes of the father of Enlightenment anti-Semitism,

that Judaism is not just one more religion, but in its way the root of religious evil. Without the stern, joyless rabbis and their 613 dour prohibitions, we might have avoided the whole nightmare of the Old Testament, and the brutal, crude wrenching of that into prophecy-derived Christianity, and the later plagiarism and mutation of Judaism and Christianity into the various rival forms of Islam.

"Most of the time," he concludes, "I do concur with Voltaire, but not without acknowledging that Judaism is dialectical."


That tacked-on caveat about Judaism's "dialectical" quality may seem curious, but Hitchens gives a good indication of what he means by it in describing the type of Jew he does find acceptable. These are the "non-Jewish" Jews like Spinoza, Trotsky, and, one imagines, the partially Jewish Christopher Hitchens himself. Needless to say, separating the Jews into "good" Jews and "bad" Jews has a rather nasty provenance, but Hitchens has indulged in the exercise on more than one occasion. Concerning, for example, the 2003 terrorist bombing of the Neve Shalom synagogue in Istanbul, he wrote with ostensible sympathy that "The worshippers were not killed for building a settlement in the West Bank: they were members of a very old and honorable community who were murdered for being Jews." The implication that, had the Jews of Neve Shalom been building a settlement in the West Bank, murdering them would have been perfectly acceptable, points to where Hitchens's dialectics can lead.

It is also true that, on occasion, Hitchens has been outspoken in condemning anti-Semitism. Unfortunately, even a cursory examination reveals that these condemnations tend to be highly selectiveso selective, in fact, that they often appear to be little more than an exercise in bad faith. For the most part, Hitchens condemns anti-Semitism when doing so can serve as a weapon against those he dislikes: e.g., certain right-wingers, certain left-wingers, radical Muslims, people who support radical Muslims, the Catholic church, or Christian evangelicals. When anti-Semitism serves his purposes, however, he is perfectly willing to make use of it and to engage in apologetics on its behalf.

Indeed, Hitchens's concept of anti-Semitism is itself a largely self-serving fantasy. "Because anti-Semitism is the godfather of racism and the gateway to tyranny and fascism and war," he has said, "it is to be regarded not as the enemy of the Jewish people but as the common enemy of humanity and of civilization and has to be fought against very tenaciously for that reason." In other words, Hitchens appears to be opposed to anti- Semitism only to the extent that it has nothing to do with the Jews but serves as a proxy for other evils. Given that anti-Semitism, whatever else it may be, is most certainly the enemy of the Jewish people, to decline to condemn it on that basis is, in effect, to decline to condemn it at all.

Hitchens has also proved quite willing to rationalize or explain away anti-Semitism when it is practiced by his friends or by those on his side of an argument. A notable beneficiary of his indulgence, as far back as the 1980s, was the leftist intellectual Noam Chomsky, who found himself in trouble after signing a petition defending the French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson. Criticized by a group of French intellectuals, Chomsky shot back that he was merely standing up for Faurisson's right of free speech, not his opinions, and attacked his critics as enemies of that right. In this he was duly parroted by Hitchens, who asserted  that "the ‘fact' here is that Chomsky defended not Faurisson's work but his right to research and publish it."

This too was false. The petition Chomsky signed, and from which Hitchens himself quoted extensively, was clearly written by a Holocaust denier and presented Holocaust denial as a perfectly acceptable form of historical inquiry. This was what Chomsky's opponents criticized—not his defense, such as it was, of Faurisson's right to free speech.

Something similar occurred in the case of the British pseudo-historian David Irving, a self-declared fascist who has also described himself as "a hardcore disbeliever" in the Holocaust. In 1996, when St. Martin's Press declined to publish Irving's biography of Joseph Goebbels, Hitchens rushed to announce that the press had "disgraced the business of publishing and degraded the practice of debate." He also asserted that Irving "has never and not once described the Holocaust as a ‘hoax.'" This was obviously untrue, since Irving had been publicly denying the Holocaust for nearly a decade. Nor was "the Irving suppression," as Hitchens dubbed it with his usual bombast, anything more than a simple case of a publisher deciding, on fairly firm grounds of intellectual and moral integrity, not to publish an extremely bad book.

Even the symbols of Nazism seem to exercise Hitchens in strikingly counterintuitive ways, depending on who is deploying them. Remarking on the use of swastika flags by pro-Palestinian protestors, Hitchens publicly claimed to be "sickened" but then admonished his audience to remember that "this is an auction of imagery that was started by [Menachem] Begin and other Israeli extremists who once openly and regularly compared the PLO to the Nazi party." By way of contrast, on a 2009 visit to Beirut, Hitchens went out of his way to deface a swastika displayed by a pro-Syrian fascist party, endangering his traveling companions in the process. The contrast serves as something of an object lesson in Hitchens's selective outrage: When a swastika is the symbol of an obscure Lebanese political bloc, nothing, including the safety of others, must be spared in order to destroy it. When a swastika is brandished by pro-Palestinian activists, it is an understandable reaction to the rhetoric of "Israeli extremists."

The truth is that, beneath the surface platitudes, Hitchens's attitude toward the Holocaust and Nazism, like his attitude toward anti-Semitism, is disturbingly bizarre; but it is of a piece with his general attitude toward the Jews, Judaism, and their enemies.


There is, of course, no issue on which Hitchens's anti-Semitism has been more aggressive and outspoken than that of Zionism and Israel. That Hitchens hates Israel has long been known, and he has made no secret of it. Indeed, it practically leaps off the pages of his Slate article as well as countless other essays and interviews. Somewhat less well known is the extent to which this antipathy appears to be based on Hitchens's embrace of the racist proposition that the Jews have no homeland in Israel (and thus, by definition, no homeland anywhere).

According to Hitchens, the widely held delusion that the Jews are a people with the same rights as any other is a direct result of the deleterious influence of Judaism itself. As he puts it: "The only actual justification offered" for Zionism "is that God awarded the land to one tribe a good many years ago, and of course this appalling racist and messianic delusion . . . only makes a terrible situation even worse." In reality, one is constrained to point out, there is a bit more than God involved, such as the existence of a Jewish nation in the land of Israel for centuries, its sovereignty ended only by genocide at the hands of Roman legions; the centrality of Israel and especially Jerusalem to Jewish thought and culture; the fact that only the land of Israel has ever been regarded as the Jewish homeland by both Jews and non-Jews (including Muslims); and various other significant and notably secular historical facts.

Many of Hitchens's claims against Zionism go far beyond simple distortion. About Theodor Herzl, for example, he tells us: "If I could rewind the tape, I would stop Herzl from telling the initial demagogic lie (actually two lies) that a land without a people needs a people without a land." In fact, Herzl never wrote this. Hitchens's claim otherwise is no less false than his subsequent assertion that "If you give the most cursory attention to the writings of Herzl and [Max] Nordau and other founders of the Zionist movement, or if you read the memoirs of Yitzhak Rabin closer to our own day, you will notice at once that . . . they wanted [the Arabs'] land, and wanted it without its inhabitants." Herzl, in fact, hoped that the Arabs would be integrated as equal citizens in a future Jewish state, as did most of the "other founders of the Zionist movement," and Yitzhak Rabin never advocated an Israel emptied of its Arab citizens but publicly denounced such sentiments. One is not permitted to "lie about history," Hitchens once lectured a supporter of Israel, a rule that appears to be forgotten when it comes to Hitchens himself.

One likely reason behind Hitchens's hatred of Zionism is the (to him) irritating fact that the movement succeeded despite the opposition to it of many of the "non-Jewish" Jews he so admires. "One of the advantages of a Marxist and internationalist training," he has stated in an interview, "is that it exposes one to the early writings of those Jewish cosmopolitans who warned from the first day that Zionism would be a false messiah for the Jews and an injustice to the Arabs. Nothing suggests to me that they were wrong on these crucial points." This assertion is either tragic or absurd, considering that the Jewish cosmopolitanism glorified by Hitchens ended in the Auschwitz gas chambers, while the despised Zionists went on to found a relatively strong, prosperous, and culturally vibrant nation-state.

To a great extent, such violent hostility appears to be driven not by the delusions of Zionism but by the delusions of Christopher Hitchens. In a remarkable piece of bluster, he once wrote that "if anti-Jewish fascism comes again to the Christian worldor more probably comes at us via the Muslim world," he would not repair to Israel because "I already consider it an obligation to resist it wherever I live. I would detest myself if I fled from it in any direction." The obvious truth behind this swaggering fantasy is that if "anti-Jewish fascism" were to rise again, Hitchens would most likely share the fate of almost everyone who followed his recommended course the last time such a dilemma presented itself. His complacent formula for permanent Jewish victimization calls to mind something his hero George Orwell once wrote about pacifism: that it "is only possible to people who have money and guns between them and reality." Much the same, and worse, appears to be true of Hitchens and his anti-Zionism.   


Without taking anything away from Hitchens's native gifts as a polemicist, it is not difficult to pinpoint the source of many of his poisonous attitudes toward the Jews and Judaism. He has done so  himself many times by naming the late Israel Shahak as his "beloved guide, in the superior sense of that term," occupying a place in his pantheon of intellectual heroes next to Thomas Paine, Edmund Burke, and, of all people, Gore Vidal. "He was never interviewed by the New York Times," Hitchens lamented after Shahak's death, "and its obituary pages have let pass the death of a great and serious man."

Unfortunately, the "great and serious man" was barking mad. This is made apparent by the merest glimpse into Shahak's magnum opus, Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years, which Hitchens has recommended as a reliable guide on matters Jewish. It is, quite simply, a masterpiece of anti-Semitic literature, whose thesis is quickly summarized: Judaism is racist and evil; as a result, Zionism is racist and evil; as a result, Israel is racist and evil. For Jews to cease to be racist and evil, they must divest themselves of Judaism.

To support this thesis, Shahak spins a lengthy conspiracy theory according to which the ancient rabbis cooked up the Talmud in order to create "one of the most totalitarian societies in the whole history of mankind."  Here are a few characteristic passages:

* "[B]oth before and after a meal, a pious Jew ritually washes his hands, uttering a special blessing. On one of these two occasions he is worshiping God, by promoting the divine union of Son and Daughter; but on the other he is worshiping Satan, who likes Jewish prayers and ritual acts so much that when he is offered a few of them it keeps him busy for a while and he forgets to pester the divine Daughter."

* The "dominant feature" of talmudic Judaism "is deceptiondeception primarily of God, if this word can be used for an imaginary being so easily deceived by the rabbis. . . . Together with the deception of God goes the deception of other Jews, mainly in the interest of the Jewish ruling class." Indeed, "Marx was quite right when, in his two articles about Judaism, he characterized it as dominated by profit-seeking."

* Zionism, along with Orthodoxy, is the true successor of "historical Judaism." Both are "sworn enemies of the concept of an open society." Indeed, a Jewish state "cannot ever contain an open society. It can [only] become a fully closed and warlike ghetto, a Jewish Sparta, supported by the labor of Arab helots, kept in existence by its influence on the U.S. political establishment and by threats to use its nuclear power."

And so on in the same vein, including the revelations that Martin Buber was a mass murderer and that American Jewswho are all racistsbecame involved in the civil-rights movement only in order to further Jewish interests.

To anyone who has read Hitchens, much of this will sound familiar enough: at various times he has repeated whole passages from Shahak, occasionally word for word. The line about "Arab helots," for example, is a particular favorite. He is also, as we have seen, especially fond of Shahak's idea that there are some exceptional Jews "who have internalized the complex of ideas which Karl Popper has called ‘the open society.'"


We have returned to the good Jews and the bad Jews. The good Jews are those who rid themselves of any semblance of a particular Jewish identity. The bad Jews are those, secular or religious, who choose to remain who they are, and are therefore corrupted by the racism, chauvinism, power worship, and hatred of Gentiles inherent in Judaism itself. It is worth pointing out that, according to these criteria, almost all Jews are bad Jews.

Indeed, this final point is the essential one, because it goes to the heart of Hitchens's attitudes toward Judaism. Like Shahak, Hitchens's vision is of a world in which there will be no more Judaism. One should be honest about what this means: it means the religious, cultural, political, and social extinction of the Jews as Jews. In the world as Hitchens would have it, the Jew would cease to exist.

Hitchens often makes much of the necessity of facing truth as it is, and of not making convenient excuses for looking away. As he often quotes Orwell, "to see what is under one's nose needs a constant struggle." Indeed it does. In the present case, the anti-Semite is under all our noses, and it is well worth the struggle to see him.

Benjamin Kerstein is a writer living in Tel Aviv.

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Ron Broxted on December 13, 2010 at 6:24 am (Reply)
Wasn't Hichens's mother Jewish? She was one of the "anusim."
yehudah cohn on December 13, 2010 at 8:16 am (Reply)
An uncharacteristically ugly article for JIDaily - selective in its evidence and full of unsubstantiated, not to say vitriolic, inuendo. For the true picture watch the recent tapes of the Jeffrey Goldberg interviews of Hitchens.
Gary B. on December 13, 2010 at 8:32 am (Reply)
Mr. Hitchens has always been correct about everything, before and even when he changes his mind. This is the glory of the moral relativist's life masquerading as a moral creature, who may therefore destest with love and love to hate, proudly parade his wealth of education and vocabulary arrayed ever for battle, and spew his wisdom against godly folk as spittle upon a face. For Hitchens, "God is not great," as if this is an argument that Hitchens is. The man bores with big words as sounding brass, yet his atheism is merely a rehash of the old complaints trotted out as if new. Anti-semitic rage of the well-educated is rage nonetheless.
G.F. on December 13, 2010 at 9:04 am (Reply)
It's a long article and nowhere in it did I find what I was looking for: the background of Christopher Hitchens! His mother was Jewish and hid it from her children. The father was a non-Jew and his mother probably converted somewhere, to Christianity. This makes Christopher and his brother Jewish by descent from his mother, if that counts, and it makes Christopher a person who never heard anything good about Judaism, with no Jewish education and someone who has spent his life not learning about Judaism and all the wonderful aspects, but an intellectual who seeks out intellectuals who hate Judaism. What else do you want to know? In Judaism we have lots of self-haters and anti-Semites.
Seraph on December 13, 2010 at 10:01 am (Reply)
To Yehudah Cohn - you have to do better than that. Please provide *specific* examples of how Mr. Kerstein has distorted the recorded - based on the information provided in this article.

Lacking that, your assessment remains unsubstantiated.
S. on December 13, 2010 at 10:20 am (Reply)
I don't like it when people say that Judaism is evil and so forth, but you can't very well expect someone who thinks that religion is the source of most evil to give Judaism a pass.
yehudah cohn on December 13, 2010 at 10:41 am (Reply)
Seraph (see above) - the article begins with an unsubstantiated claim as its first sentence, and the piece is full of them. Goldberg interviewing Hitchens on Jews and Judaism is available on the internet, as of course are the things that Hitchens has to say about other religions.

An atheist polemicist is of course likely to express himself in ways that make many Jews uncomfortable, although Hitchens is stronger against other religions.

Sam Schulman on December 13, 2010 at 10:55 am (Reply)
Mr. Kerstein, at dangerous times like this, it is imperative to recognize our true friends and distinguish them from our true enemies, and though what you say of Hitchens's remarks of Jews and Judaism is accurate in the narrow sense, you are at the same time profoundly wrong about him.
I am parti pris, since my 2007 Commentary review of Hitchens's "God is Not Great" pointed out Hitchens's very peculiar Hanukkah-hatred, and elaborated on his multifarious misunderstandings of that festival, from the mundane - blaming it incorrectly and provincially for being a rip-off of Christmas to the weirdly idealistic and hateful - all pointing to Hitchens's bizarre contention that if it were not for the survival of Judaism, "we might have been spared the whole thing" - as if religion then would have withered away like the Communist state did.
I cite - even recommend - my denunciation of Hitchens's anti-Hanukkahism ( to give me the standing to say this about Kerstein's conclusion: he is utterly wrong about Hitchens's supposed anti-Semitism. The hostility that Hitchens expresses to Jewish history, and indeed, to the very existence of Jews and Judaism, while reprehensible and idiotic in itself, is also harmless and pitiable - it is a relic of Hitchens's leftist identity, which he cannot give up. On the other hand, his standing as an enemy of the enemy of the actual, contemporary enemies of Judaism, the Jews and even Israel, is something that a Zionist and a Jew should cherish, and is much more effective than his arguments against the Jewish state, which are dated even in their own terms - an historical relic of 1960s leftwing anti-Zionism with no effect.
In practice, Hitchens is so loathed by the real anti-Semitic left and the left in general that his few anti-Israel rants are ignored - but his eloquent denunciation of terrorism and his support of the Bush doctrine and the defense of the West nobly supports Israel's legitimacy and the survival of the Jews there and everywhere in the democratic west. He is a treasure to be cherished by us - someone who hates anti-Semitism more effectively and more authentically than any number of Jews ands self-proclaimed friends of the Jews. If he has a problem with Hanukkah - well, I wish (to compare puny men like me with great men like Lincoln), like Lincoln said of General Grant's drinking problem, we had many more friends of democracy and freedom with Hitchens's Hanukkah problem.
independent patriot on December 13, 2010 at 11:14 am (Reply)
Very interesting article. The author is correct in that Hitchens's antisemitism is very well known but never discussed. Interestingly I have just read a discussion about Frederich Nietzsche and his antisemitism. While he wrote disparagingly about religion, and specifically Judaism, he himself never considered himself an antisemite. In fact he disinherited his sister when she married a Nazi. Hitchens reminds me of FN in many regards but most notably in the fact that they are ignorant of how abhorrent and vile their views happen to be. The fact that FN's views on Judaism were used by the Nazis to foment the holocaust would have been seen as absurd by the philosopher. I wonder when the enemies of civilization use Hitchens's writings about Jews to foment another Holocaust, how he will be caught unawares, for he does not consider himself anymore an antisemite than did Nietzsche.
Mannie Sherberg on December 13, 2010 at 11:19 am (Reply)
God-hatred and Jew-hatred are pretty much the same thing; indeed, one can cogently argue that hatred of Jews is nothing more than displaced hatred of God. True, Mr. Kerstein did not speculate on the reasons for Hitchens's rage against God, but, if he had, his speculations would be exactly that, and perhaps he chose to stick to the provable record and stop there. His article strikes me as solid, evidentiary, and -- in the end -- sad. In the "Ethics of the Fathers" we are told that the hatred of others destroys your own world. That a man of Hitchens's gifts has chosen to squander so much of his life reviling Jews and Judaism has, in the final analysis, done little to harm the Jews -- but has certainly been self-destructive for Christopher Hitchens.
Dave on December 13, 2010 at 11:41 am (Reply)

You disprove your own point. Hitchens may be valuable for his eloquent opposition to radical Islam, but his anti-semitism remains, even if you, wrongly, deem it 'harmless and pitiable.' Which, of course, was the whole point of Kerstein's article; Hitchens' brilliance has earned him a loyal following, but his lackeys continually refuse to acknowledge his dark side. Unlike you, Kerstein does not find deeply entrenched anti-semitic feelings on behalf of a world-renowned thinker to be a matter easily ignored. If nothing else, acknowledging Hitchens's vicious hostility to the Jews and Judaism will make clear the destination to which his radical brand of atheism leads. Yes, Hitchens may be a useful intellectual tool in the 'war on terror,' but if we recoil at his conclusions regarding Jews, which may be completely logical based on the misguided premises he has created, then perhaps we should reconsider whether it is proper to deploy his vitriol and gross simplification against Islam.
Sam Schulman on December 13, 2010 at 11:57 am (Reply)
Dave, you prove my point. First of all, I did acknowledge his dark side (at length in the article I modestly referred to); second, your sensitivity about his - yes - pitiable and harmless anti-Zionism - makes you wish to do without his aid even if it kills us. We can't afford such feinschmeckerkeit in these dark days. In any case, it isn't his "vitriol and gross simplification against Islam" that is useful - though it would have been handsome of you to admit that Hitchens is every bit as hard on every other religion as he is on Judaism, even at the cost of exposing himself to personal danger - but his much rarer and more thoughtful defense of self-defense and realism about the enemies of the West in general. In this respect he is a much better friend and more reliable ally than any number of Jewish leaders, both in Israel and in the West, who hearts are filled with the love of Torah but whose resolution is wavering and watery.
Dave on December 13, 2010 at 1:33 pm (Reply)
Mr. Schulman,

If I implied that I don’t appreciate Hitchens’s eloquent defense of the West, I apologize, it wasn’t my intent. My qualm is with his methods. As you say, Hitchens’s disdain for Judaism is commensurate, if not surpassed, by his disdain for Islam. Which is precisely my point. These are, indeed, ‘dark times,’ and there is an understandable urge to embrace the friends of our enemies as we find them. But our enemy is not Islam, and it is surely not all religious belief. In our search for an intellectual defender against radical Islam, should we embrace someone who wishes to tear down the entire edifice of belief, a foundation of both western civilization and, more to the point, the cultural, religious and national identity of the Jewish people? I’m not so sure. I turn for support to a writer of greater intelligence and eloquence than myself, who acknowledged that “the atheists focus their peevishness not on Muslim extremists (who advertise their hatred and violent intentions) but on the old-time Christian [and Jewish?] religion.” ( Given the intellectual pull of thinkers like Hitchens, I’m not sure our embrace of their particular defense of the west is worth implicitly accepting their more damaging ideas. At the least we should attempt to separate the two, which I believe you are trying to do. Maybe I’m naïve, but I’d like to remain a feinshmecker, even in these dark times.
Dennis on December 13, 2010 at 1:42 pm (Reply)
Re: Sam (Schulman, that is) v. Dave

I saw Hitchens's duality in action at a panel discussion [sic] at NYU not too many years back, at which all four panelists harbored anti-Israel or -Zionist slant, including the token Israeli, Haaretz reporter and loathing-his-own-people guilty soul Gideon Levy. So slanted was the panel that Hitchens alone, amidst his anti-Zionist diatribe, was de facto Israel's only defender amongst the left/Arab-Muslim milieu by virture of his honesty in calling Islamofascism -- in Syria, in Lebanon, in Hezbollah, in HAMAS -- for what it is, and recognizing implicitly if not explicitly that its evils are orders of magnitude more vicious and societally-threatening than anything the "Jewish supremacists" [sic] had ever put forward into this world.

I think the answer is simply that Sam and Dave -- to borrow a turn of phrase -- are both right, in a way.

On the one hand, Hitchens was the only balancer with leftist credentials (if expired) on this skewed panel, and, by extension, plays this role on a larger stage.

On the other, Hitchens helped legitimize a panel [sic] at a major U.S. university whose discussion of "whither Israel" did not include representation of the Jewish state (and, I would argue, hence, Jewish people) that could remotely be considered to be anywhere in the norm of its political spectrum -- no Israeli moderate or centrist or even moderate leftist, much less a rightist or center-rightist. This marginalization of proud Jews who have created and who defend with their blood a free, democratic, right-based nation, the only one in the region, is abhorrent and part and parcel of the new-style Israel- and Jew-hating agenda that threatens Jews and humanity everywhere.
Yoni Kirby on December 13, 2010 at 2:06 pm (Reply)
nice article :)
Sam Schulman on December 13, 2010 at 2:19 pm (Reply)
I will take Dennis's outstretched hand if Dave will as well. Of course Dave and even Ben E. are right about Hitchens sub specie aeternitatis - my point was to puzzle about Kerstein's outrage regarding Hitchens of all people when his public interventions are so less malign than almost anyone's - which is what is interesting and significant about Hitchens and his interventions. Alas, anti-Zionist expressions of anti-Semitism are as common as dirt. But NYU etc. would and could have staged the conference Dave attended perfectly well without him. I would beg all to consider the peculiar, reluctant, openly anti-Semitic but objectively philosemitic Hitchens in comparison with other British voices on the subject such as Mick Davis, the late Tony Judt, and the whole London Review of Books typing pool.
Benjamin on December 13, 2010 at 2:35 pm (Reply)
We should not throw around the accusation "anti-Semite" so casually. I should expect Hitchens to find Judaism-as-a-religion disagreeable, as he finds every religion disagreeable. Anti-Judaism, however, is not the same as anti-Semitism. Anti-Judaism is hatred of the Jewish religion; anti-Semitism is hatred of the Jewish people. Many of the early Zionists were just as scornful of Judaism as Hitchens, but were nonetheless proud of their Jewish nationality. Hitchens is opposed to religious Zionism, which is perfectly consistent with his worldview. Many Israelis are also opposed to religious Zionism, which is indeed a distortion of the originary secular Zionist vision.
Seraph on December 13, 2010 at 2:36 pm (Reply)
@ Yehuda - You argue that "the article begins with an unsubstantiated claim as its first sentence, and the piece is full of them."

If I am not mistaken, the REST of the article attempts to use actual quotes to substantiate that very claim. This article is almost 4000 words long and, instead of pointing out where Kerstein has supplied erroneous quotes or misunderstood Hitchens's arguments, you attempt to send me to some other analysis. Even if I spent all day watching Goldberg interviewing Hitchens on Jews and Judaism, that does not mean that he did not state the things that are exposed in this article. If these quotes are unsubstantiated (e.g. fabricated or taken out of context), then it should not be too hard to prove that Kerstein has misled his readers.

As for brushing off Hitchens's attacks on Jews as irrelevent because he has also directed his ire at other religions, I think that this is akin to saying that one cannot consider him a racist because he hates everyone equally.
Dave on December 13, 2010 at 3:31 pm (Reply)
I accept the truce. That was fun. Not everyday I get to try and spar with a real writer.
Benn on December 13, 2010 at 3:45 pm (Reply)
Most British leftists-atheists believe in a very good human-Jesus,who opposes all that egoistic unjust Jewish and Semitic religion and culture.Looking at Hitchens` theatrical poses,rolling his eyes,I am reminded of Russian literary men after the Revolution--so refined but with friends in the KGB.
Benjamin on December 13, 2010 at 3:48 pm (Reply)
"As for brushing off Hitchens's attacks on Jews as irrelevent because he has also directed his ire at other religions, I think that this is akin to saying that one cannot consider him a racist because he hates everyone equally."

But someone who hates everyone equally isn't a racist - he/she is a misanthrope! Mark Twain once said: "The Jews are members of the human race - worse I can say of no man." That's not anti-Semitism - quite the reverse.
Ronald Radosh on December 13, 2010 at 4:21 pm (Reply)
I agree heartily with Sam Schulman's comments. I reviewed Hitch's book for National Review, and was extremely critical of his arguments on Jews and on Israel. I thought I was very tough. Hitchens told me he "would expect nothing less," that he was reading the book my wife and I wrote about Truman and Israel, and was learning a lot about it.
Yes, this is his blind spot. But he has, as others note, defended Israel recently in both columns and at debates, often being its lone defender. He has not moved far enough from his old Trotskyist leanings, but neverthless, has moved far indeed.

Ron Radosh
yehudah cohn on December 13, 2010 at 4:51 pm (Reply)
Seraph - it is precisely because Hitchens's views on other religions are not given full voice that I claim his quotes are out of context. In that sense I do feel that Kerstein is misleading.
yehudah cohn on December 13, 2010 at 5:00 pm (Reply)
also published today, and perhaps of relevance -
Steve on December 13, 2010 at 10:17 pm (Reply)
Mr. Shulman resorts to whatever rhetorical sleight of hand is available to defend Hitchens.

"So slanted was the panel that Hitchens alone, amidst his anti-Zionist diatribe, was de facto Israel's only defender amongst the left/Arab-Muslim milieu by virture of his honesty in calling Islamofascism --"

De facto?

"his - yes - pitiable and harmless anti-Zionism"

What's so harmless about Hitch's anti-Zionism?

William Berkson on December 13, 2010 at 10:26 pm (Reply)
My comment on Hitchens's and other recent critiques of the celebration of Hanukkah is here at the blog:

Baruch Pelta on December 13, 2010 at 10:56 pm (Reply)
Mr. Kerstein is really being dan lekav chov when it comes to the Hitch. I think Kerstein way overgeneralizes.

He seems to see Hitchens as having a great hatred of all aspects of historical religious Judaism, but as Hitchens notes in Hitch-22 (on the same page as the Voltaire quote incidentally), “even pre-enlightenment Judaism forces its adherents to study and think.” Kerstein seems to present Hitchens as attacking Judaism more than the other religions he attacks in God is Not Great; really?

Kerstein asks which rabbis have said the Torah’s mention of Amalek is code for the Palestinians.

I think Kerstein also misrepresents the petition Chomsky signed (which can be read at ).

Hitchens has described his own sentiments for Jewishness and his own understanding of it. “To be Jewish is to be involved in a continual struggle, a continual test, to be at continual risk, to be always aware of anxiety and danger and angst, just as there could be despite the best efforts of its enemies no final solution to the so-called Jewish problem, Jewish question in Europe. So one has to say there’s no ultimate security or salvation for the Jewish people or any other. More and more, for example, to me Israel begins to resemble a part of the diaspora, not a solution to it or an alternative to it, just one other place where a large number of Jewish people live in great insecurity and constant doubt. Jews will always continue to be indentified as malcontents, doubters, unsound, cosmopolitan, and yes, if you like, ruthless…[anti-semitism's] hatred towards us is a compliment and resolving some of the time at any rate to do a bit more to deserve it.”

Oh and one other thing — I really shuddered at this paragraph of Kerstein’s essay:
“We have returned to the good Jews and the bad Jews. The good Jews are those who rid themselves of any semblance of a particular Jewish identity. The bad Jews are those, secular or religious, who choose to remain who they are, and are therefore corrupted by the racism, chauvinism, power worship, and hatred of Gentiles inherent in Judaism itself. It is worth pointing out that, according to these criteria, almost all Jews are bad Jews.”
p.s. Hitchens does go over-the-top sometimes, but that is because he’s a controversialist w/ a Marxist edge, not because he’s a self-hating Jew.

Baruch Pelta
Ethan on December 14, 2010 at 1:58 am (Reply)
You are kidding right? Hitchens's speech to the Daniel Pearl memorial lecture was one of the most moving condemnations of anti-semitism I have ever seen.

Here is a quote
"Anti-Semitism is gateway to tyranny & the common enemy of civilization"

Every religion thinks Hitchens hates them - Muslims, Christians - He lambasts Mother Theresa for gods sake. If you think hating the religion of Judaism makes one an anti-semite - then yes he is an anti-semite as he hates all religion. If you think Hitchens hates Jews - then you couldn't be farther from the truth. I find he is actually more respectful of Judaism and even wore a Kippa when he was being interviewed in a synagogue once. This article is really lacking.
Barry Meislin on December 14, 2010 at 4:57 am (Reply)
For me, Hitchens has become a most admirable man. His spirited, articulate defense of what is right and his attacks on what is wrong (not to mention his prowess as a literary critic) are often breathtaking, especially when one takes into account positions he has held in the past.

Alas, his views are not always defensible or consistent, as Kerstein has taken pains---and it is painful---to portray.

As a self-confessed "contrarian," Hitchens, himself, may take pride in this. Perhaps.

For me, the most sordid and problematic aspect of these latest revelations is, in a nutshell: What is this extremely admirable (for the most part) and talented man---who claims to pursue truth resolutely and who, rightly, extolls Orwell---doing quoting and/or paraphrasing, with approval, Israel Shahak?
Elliott Green on December 14, 2010 at 5:11 am (Reply)
Hitchens' and Shahak's Judeophobia fits into the traditions of "leftist" Judeophobia and "rightist" Judeophobia that emerged from the writings of Kant and Hegel as well as Voltaire. Kant hated the Orient and Oriental culture, including Jews and Judaism. But he hated Jews and Judaism especially and labeled them especially inferior even within the inferior Oriental sphere. This Judeophobia generally imbued German philosophy and passed into "leftist" movements through Marx. As Hitchens hates Judaism especially among the religions, Kant hated and despised Jews and Judaism especially within the Oriental sphere. By the way, Kant called the German Jews, "The Palestinians who live among us." This is rather ironic considering contemporary "leftist" idealization of palestinian Arabs.
Here is my article on Kant, Hegel & Voltaire:
here is a summary of the article:, Science and Progress
Benn on December 14, 2010 at 8:37 am (Reply)
Famous people`s antisemitism usually alternates with ardent defense of Jews. Hitchens is the typical British cultural supremacist.
William Berkson on December 14, 2010 at 10:59 am (Reply)
Benn, excellent point. It is a always a mistake to assume that people are consistent :)
saltine on December 14, 2010 at 12:06 pm (Reply)
This is an interesting article, but I have to call a time-out on the piling on of evidence that Hitchens is particularly anti-Semitic. It seems that he is indeed that, but as a Roman Catholic who has followed Hitch's writing for years, it has always struck me that the real focus of his loathing is not the Jews, but the Catholics and their Church. His work on us is always infused with the bitterest sarcasm, and he virtually never attempts to address our beliefs and traditions in a serious way. Which is fine - most of us don't expect much out of non-Catholics, especially those who style themselves "atheists" (when they are actually deiphobes). But it is interesting, and eye-opening, for me to see that he is perceived by many believing Jews as being more openly hostile to them than to any other group. And, on the basis of what has been written here, I would have to say that this may be accurate.
Gary B. on December 14, 2010 at 1:41 pm (Reply)
Lots of comments with a variety of perspectives. None addresses Hitchens's support of Voltaire as cited in the article, "Judaism is not just one more religion, but in its way the root of religious evil."

A direct quote, to be dealt with, and no one seems to have focused on it yet. Judaism as the "root of religious evil." Any of Hitchens's fans who have commented above care to explain/rationalize/excuse this one? "Root of religious evil?"
Sam Schulman on December 14, 2010 at 2:29 pm (Reply)
Sure, Gary B. - Hitchens would think so because of a truism - Judaism has the honor to be the senior monotheistic religion, and as Hitchens says in his atheism book, he believes, risibly, that if the Jews had lost to the Seleucids, monotheism would never have arisen. This is an old idea, and has many variations, usually even worse: that Christianity has either perfected Judaism or rendered Judaism otiose and undeserving of life; that Islam has done the same to both its predecessors. For a trendy lefty version of this argument, stick your hand out in the theology section of a university bookstore - the most recent I've noticed is the trendy lefty Dutch intellectual Paul Cliteur's book, Het monotheïstisch dilemma, of de theologie van het terrorisme.
Here's the publisher's copy: "Cliteur's position is not a defense of atheism. He is not negative about religion in general or even about the three monotheistic religions. He does say that in monotheism (especially in the Old Testament) is the starting point for radicalism that could lead to violence. Only when we know what those starting points are, can we liberate ourselves from them."
I'd rather have what Hitchens says, and take it as it was meant, as a backhanded compliment, than suffer through Cliteur's creepy PC kind of Jew-hatred, and watch how he filters it through "anti-racist strategies of discourse," as he no doubt does. Ugh.
Steve on December 14, 2010 at 2:30 pm (Reply)
I would point out to "saltine" and some other commentators that we're talking about Hitchens's contempt for the Jews both as a religious community and as a national community that includes non-believers. Nationalism is generally OK with Hitchens just so long as it isn't Jewish nationalism. How Bolshevik!
Ira on December 14, 2010 at 2:34 pm (Reply)
Why do people even bother with his hate-filled polemics? Just because he uses $25 words is no recommendation of his ideas.
Baruch Pelta on December 14, 2010 at 2:42 pm (Reply)
First off, Mr. Kerstein got the quote wrong; Hitchens doesn't say "most of the time," but "much of the time" he agrees with Voltaire.
He goes on to say: "...but not without acknowledging that Judaism is dialectical...even pre-enlightenment Judaism forces its adherents to study and think, it reluctantly teaches them what others think, and it may even teach them how to think also."

Hitchens's view of Judaism is nuanced. Kind of like his view of everything else. He has a positive view of his own Jewishness and has claimed it as part of his identity.
TheZeitgeist on December 14, 2010 at 3:00 pm (Reply)
I don't buy into the notion of Christopher Hitchens as particularly anti-semitic. Hitchens is anti-religion, but no one in the West - especially in the United States - conflates Judaism with the classic tropes of theocratic fundamentalism, examples of which are in abundance for both Muslims and Christians. Yet Judaism has its zealots (pun intended) as much as any other.

The stereotypes in the West of Jews and Judaism - damaging as they are - acclaim certain qualities to it all. Jews are considered crafty, clever, and smart for example, but not religious. Certainly not the universal derogatory tropes about black people, which to wit, are the exact opposite. What those tropes do serve however is making Judaism somehow unique compared to other faiths.

Hitchens does something most commentators don't have the guts to do: He doesn't view Judaism as exceptional either way, good or bad. Judaism becomes just another brand of stupidity that is any religion, worthy of contempt via illuminating examples in his books and columns. You never see examples of Jewish fundamentalist stupidity because that is a trope of other religions in the West, and any critique of Judaism is a minefield of potentially being branded Anti-Semite and that label is a death-knell akin to "racist." Articles of this nature would've appeared long ago if someone like a Sean Hannity or Rachel Maddow (simplistic cultural monotypes) had written such invective about Judaism in the past. The fact it took so long for such an accusation - and not an attack piece but one meticulously researched and referenced as here - to appear for Hitchens is a testament to his own background and capacity armoring him from such easy one-stop-shop labels.
Ruth on December 14, 2010 at 4:02 pm (Reply)
Reading the essay and the comments, what strikes me most about Hitchens is how far he falls short of Orwell in editorial restraint. If he had applied the "omit needless words" rule to his writing, how much of the vitriol would have vanished instantly? For no other reason but that of the true style that is a product of intelligence? Orwell wrote good prose, not vitriol.

And as his prose falls short, so too does his temper and judgment. Perhaps that is the fundamental problem, not a particular attitude toward Jews. Cf. misanthropes. Hating everyone is poor judgment, no matter who does it or why. If Hitchens is the Orwell of our time, it says something about our time: or perhaps the true heir has yet to emerge.
Jane on December 14, 2010 at 10:17 pm (Reply)
Yeah this article is pretty bad. Hitchens isn't a nice guy, but you're really going out on a limb here, and calling certain things bad that aren't bad, and things good that aren't good, besides. It would take an article to highlight all the errors in this article.
David Zarmi on December 15, 2010 at 1:11 am (Reply)
Yehuda - can you send links to these videos? I have always liked Hitchens's writings and don't want this to be last time I can read him without retching. But that Ovadia Yosef thing and the rabbis treating Palestinians as amalek goes too far... I agree that Yosef needs to be shut up - I personally (as Kerstein seems to imply) think he's gone delusional in old age. It sadly happens. But that somehow Yosef represents Israel and that Hitchens uses the religious canard to characterize the vast majority of the secular state is way too far for me. Even the way he descirbes the Shabbos goy - "a trifling fee"? I'm sorry - but what should the fee be for someone flicking on a light switch? Whatever it is, I'm sure it's the market rate. It's his poisonous pen that draws readers, but he would not write this way about other minority groups, even those minorities who are mostly of a certain religion (and you can't even say that about Jews). He might insult Christians, but then he wouldn't go and make fun of Blacks or Black worship. There is a difference between mutable religion and immutable race that he seems to cross here. I am very open to apologies for him and appreciate them.
Gary B. on December 15, 2010 at 3:12 am (Reply)
I have learned from the avid explanations and comments of Hitchens's supporters that his view of Judaism as the "root of religious evil" is "nuanced," that his negative remarks about Judaism can be a "backhanded compliment" and that he seems protected by many herein, wherein moral relativism sails along like a mighty ship on whose prow is painted, "God Is Not Great." Had God or Judaism the keen supporters that Hitchens seems to have stirred into writing to blunt this article, God and Judaism would be fortunate indeed, in a modern world wherein "editorial restraint" has gone the way of all flesh, a path which shortly will claim this highly-defended man from one article's sourced complaint.

Odd that this article has spawned so many fervent responses, while other articles on Jewish-related topics create far less comment. Perhaps a Judaism without God and Torah is becoming intellectually fashionable, courtesy of the likes of Hitchens and other relativist atheists of his kin? Belief in Hitchens seems most passionate, as around his golden calf so many seem to be dancing, praises loudly ringing. But "not as bad as the REAL anti-Semites" found in university bookstores and classrooms seems low praise indeed.
Jen on December 15, 2010 at 8:39 am (Reply)
You're right Jane, it would take an article to correct the mistakes in this article. I will say though, that is is both specious and intellectually lazy to call Hitchens an anti-Semite. I have been a careful reader of the man's work for over a decade, and it simply is not the truth. He has always been a harsh critic of Zionism. Why? Because, as he has often stated, he believes that in the long run, it will be disastrous for the Jewish people. Time will tell if he is right. That point of view is not generated by hatred. On the contrary.
David Zarmi on December 15, 2010 at 11:33 am (Reply)
You see, Gary, G-d and Judaism don't have nearly as eloquent a command of the English language as Mr. Hitchens, whose writing really is excellent, agree or disagree with what he says. You won't see any non-English speakers defending him. And maybe other articles about how cool G-d and Judaism are don't have as many comments because everyone agrees with them?
David Zarmi on December 15, 2010 at 11:36 am (Reply)
Ruth - well said.
JIll on December 15, 2010 at 8:47 pm (Reply)
I'll bet Hitchens once lost an argument to a Jew and has never recovered.

I'm not interested much in Hitchens, never have been, and certainly have seen not much evidence that he ever says anything out of the ordinary, though he was quite interesting in a documentary I saw; but this really confirms that he's just another flighty-minded Jewhater who thinks his hatred of religion makes him significant.

As for BK, glad you're around! I used to visit your blogs and enjoyed your essay writing very much. keep on scribing, brother! ;)
DanofMelb on December 15, 2010 at 9:49 pm (Reply)
All religions are equally anti-intellectual and proponents of these fantasies do the rest of humanity an enormous disservice. I may go so far as to say - religion is a crime against our collective humanity.

To try and claim any singular uniqueness within the fantasy is just awesome in its self-delusion.

But you know what they say about opinions...
Baruch Pelta on December 15, 2010 at 10:16 pm (Reply)
"I have learned from the avid explanations and comments of Hitchens's supporters that his view of Judaism as the 'root of religious evil' is 'nuanced'" . . .

Well, that's good. Because nuance is what was implied when he said, "...but not without acknowledging that Judaism is dialectical...even pre-enlightenment Judaism forces its adherents to study and think, it reluctantly teaches them what others think, and it may even teach them how to think also." How car forcing people to think be the root of evil? It's a necessary precondition for good, and especially in the thought of a talmid [student] of Orwell.

Who views Hitchens as a golden calf? Does he win his debates? Sure, I think audiences come away convinced. I hardly ever come away from his writings convinced of his position's veracity and it's not uncommon for me to actually disagree with his positions.

Just because some of us disagree with you doesn't make Hitchens a golden calf. Think of him more like a talmudic tractate; you can't just read one thing he says and ignore his other position, because at the end of the day, he's far too nuanced for such a superficial examination.

Baruch Pelta
Gary B. on December 16, 2010 at 1:02 am (Reply)
"Think of him more like a talmudic tractate; you can't just read one thing he says and ignore his other position, because at the end of the day, he's far too nuanced for such a superficial examination."

What a fascinating suggestion, coming from a Brandeis student who has focused recently in his own blog on comments of Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins, and a lightweight Myers with his straw men argued through the use of ridicule. (No, I don't favor the avid creationists that Myers targets, because they are no more nuanced than is he, another self-styled "confrontationalist." Since Vonnegut was one of his examples, and as Myers cites the quote, "whose mutual association is completely meaningless," one wonders what "Jew" even means to such clever nuance.)

All right, I shall imagine for a moment Pelta's new tractate, perhaps one titled "God Is Not Great."

Tractate imagined. Now what? Atheism is the way forward for Jews? For Israel? For Torah? Shall the rabbis convert to atheism? When finally Judaism is converted to atheism, what shall we be then? Certainly and finally, no longer Jews.

Then Hitchens might have the remedy to his view that Judaism is at the "root of religious evil." Moreover, Marx will have his remedy, just as he proposed, to the "Jewish problem."
Jules on December 16, 2010 at 2:06 am (Reply)
Clearly this was written by a non-Israeli or a person who has no clue about the prevalent attitude to Shas. As far as the deal America was giving Israel to extend the freeze, what's not to agree about with Hitchens? The way the government behaved was very shabbas goy are many many things in this country. America right now needs to be concerned with America. Israel and the Palestinians SHOULD BE allowed to work it out on their own without anyone else meddling because I assure you they are capable and when there are nice presents coming at them from all sides to continue the nice long "Peace talks" why should they want to stop the process? Hitchens has NOTHING against Judaism as he is a Jew and by the way he is quite proud of that fact. Hitchens has a problem with religion but even more than that, religious leaders. I assure you that there is a HUGE problem with Israel's Jewish leaders right now, just read our newspapers. It is very easy to say "HE IS AN ANTI SEMITE" or some such other nonsense instead of actually examining where the problem emanates from originally. Afterwards perhaps the issue can be addressed in an educated and unbiased manner.
Baruch Pelta on December 16, 2010 at 5:01 am (Reply)

As you may have noticed, my blog is on a short hiatus right now, the videos you referred to are there so the blog won't be without substance until I put my newest piece up. I should get it up soon, some time between today and Sunday.

But thanks for reading and feel free to read my past posts for a better impression of what my blog's all about.
Michael Gantt on December 16, 2010 at 5:07 am (Reply)
Hitchens had it right when he said "religion poisons everything," but wrong when he said, "God is not great." God is great, but in our time it is human religious leaders who get it wrong - and hence the biggest obstacles to peaceful relations in the Middle East. If Hitchens knew that everyone is going to heaven, he would not be so judgmental. I've written him this open letter:
david on December 16, 2010 at 7:27 am (Reply)
I wish writers of such articles would get their simple facts right ie Christopher Hitchens is 61 not 64! This is sloppiness and so I immediately lose respect for the remaining prose. Such simple mistakes show an intellectual dishonesty that the article highlighted.
Hitchens is equally dismissive of all religions not just Judaism.
Jules on December 16, 2010 at 10:13 am (Reply)
Thank you for pointing that out, David, seriously if one is writing about such an intellectual animal such as Hitch I should hope that one at the very least gets a few small facts such as the fact that the man is a Jew and his correct age as well as attempting some unbiased opinion, it is to presume that the readers of this article are very uneducated to not do all of that. Hitchens by the way was a regular guest on Rabbi Shmuley Boteach's radio show and gives respect where respect is due.
MR on December 16, 2010 at 10:48 am (Reply)
This is a ridiculous article.

Can anyone who reads Hitchens's work show where as this article states,

"Hitchens evokes an image of the Jews as preternaturally crafty, hypocritical, manipulative, supremacist, animalistic, and morally diseased creatures who, with the help of their corrupt talents, set themselves to exploiting Gentiles for financial gain and 'cackle' with glee at the resultant spectacle"

He rightfully criticizes the hypocritical nature of religion, the lack of morality in the 10 commandments, the ludicrous racism and backwardness in Ovadia Yosef's political parties and his comments and talks on many other topics.
Jen on December 16, 2010 at 11:01 am (Reply)
Great points Jules. I seriously doubt that Rabbi Boteach or Rabbi Wolpe would share a stage with an anti-Semite. And I think this charge is especially nasty when one considers what Hitchens has actually written about Judaism over the years along with the fact that(as he has recently noted) his grandmother, mother, wife and daughter are all Jewish. Do we really think Daniel Pearl's family would have invited him to give the memorial lecture if he hated Jews?

No, I think Kerstein is just angry because Hitchens is a very powerful, influential critic of the worst, most self-destructive parts of Israeli policy. He should be ashamed of slinging such a nasty label, in part because when it is used unjustly, it loses its potency.
Jimbo on December 16, 2010 at 12:50 pm (Reply)
I read this article from a link on I am not surprised to hear of Hitchens's antisemitism. I did learn a new term for something I knew about but didn't know the exact term - "shabbos goy". About a hundred years ago, my grandfather was a child in New York City. The Jewish lady who lived in his building gave him a nickel to turn off the lights on the Sabbath. I remember him telling me about this but none of us knew that there was a term for it. Hitchens describes a shabbos goy as someone who works for a trivial fee but I can assure anyone, a nickel to a boy in Hell's Kitchen a century ago was definitely not trivial.
Stanley Tee on December 16, 2010 at 2:17 pm (Reply)
Further proof of Hitchens's anti-Israel stance is on view in his latest article for Slate, at

While mostly about Kissinger, Hitchens starts by flat-out lying about Israel and the supposed "deal" with the US for an extended freeze. He lies about the length of the extension, he lies about the reasons for the failure to reach an agreement and he pretty much paints the Jews as money-grubbing hypocrites. And apparently, he gets away with it.
Gary B. on December 16, 2010 at 2:49 pm (Reply)
The strain of many comments has me trying to synthesize from them a post-modern, we-approve-of-Hitchens sort of Judaism, on this Jewish Ideas Daily site.

What seems to well up from them is a Hitchens-colored Judaism in the eyes of his proponents which is atheistic, resentful of religious Zionism, can avow that "religion is a crime against collective humanity," not to forget "just another brand of stupdity," contrarian yet self-confessed as to being such, identifies religious Jews as "hypocritical," and finds "the lack of morality in the 10 commandments."

And the "God and God of our fathers" is in fact nonexistent. Poof! Gone with all the other fallacies, in favor of....

What shall we do for scriptures then? Which Torah portion and Parasha shall suffice? What new Sh'ma shall call out "the non-Lord is not God?"

Perhaps I do not understand the many nuanced comments posted here, but this seems a rather sourced synthesis of the commentary, taken as a stream of discussion and dialogue.
susan on December 16, 2010 at 5:32 pm (Reply)
Like Trotsky and Marx, the roots of Hitchens and his anti-semitism are familial. Hitchens is the quintessential self-hating anti-semite. Rather than a good book editor, the man needs a good psychiatrist. But please, no Freudian analysis, Freud being another example of a self-hating Jew. Many of the world's ills have been promulgated by Jews who are truly evil. Hitchens will not find these Jews in the Old Testament or the history books but in the mirror.
Josh on December 16, 2010 at 5:58 pm (Reply)
Thanks to Jen for pointing out the fact that Hitch's own mother is a Jew. He was a teacher of mine, we've socialized outside the classroom, often in quite a lot of Jewish company. Writers, intellectuals, some critical of Israel, some not-so. The defenders here are correct to say that if he was an anti-semite, a great many of those who share his company and call him a friend would not do so. This article is absurd, long-winded dribble written by one whose style obviously would benefit from even a sliver of a fraction of the target's talent for potent brevity.
Jon W. on December 16, 2010 at 6:10 pm (Reply)
Mr. Kerstein, if you've actually read any of Hitchens's works, you likely didn't understand them. Yes, he does support the rights of the Palestinians to have a state, but his views are in line with the Israeli mainstream left.

Judiasm is a religion, though the term "Jews" also applies in an ethnic sense, mostly because (as Hitchens often praises) the religion doesn't promote proselytising. "Anti-semitism" implies contempt and suspicion of the Jewish "race." You would be hard pressed to find a single statement of Hitchens's that makes, or even implies, this view.

To accuse Hitchens of having a "Jewish problem" is absurd, nauseating, and reveals a profound difficulty with reading comprehension on your part. Many Jewish rabbis, and conservative pundits (like the Jewish Dennis Prager) have been debate opponents of Mr. Hitchens, and to the last one have praised his sincere contempt for anti-semitism and all that it implies.
Dennis on December 16, 2010 at 8:35 pm (Reply)
Shocking but not surprising is the antisemtic/anti-Israel jaundice that permates much commentary here on the Hitchens article, probably paralleling Hitchens' jaundices.

Yes, Israel is the Jewish state, inseparable from the Jewish people (if you deny it, ask the Jews and see what the overwhelming majority say); and yes, attacking the *legitimacy* of that state, particularly in context, is attacking the Jewish people, i.e. Jew hatred = antisemitism = antiJudaism = Israel hatred. (No, critiquing Israel is not antisemitic; many Jews outside and inside Israel do so all the time, some most vigorously.) But nonsense over Israelis' construction in disputed territory that Israel took only when *attacked* from it in 1967, construction that has only involved at most < 5% of that territory and that clearly is not intended to expropriate Palestinian lands, the propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding, when Israel is nearly 20% Palestinian and when Jews are prohibited BY LAW by the in-fact apartheid Palestinians running both Gaza and the West Bank from living there, and when Israel's polity, by a clear majority, has for decades been willing to trade virtually all of the disputed territory in exchange for a promise of peace and security -- with some minimal land-swapping of Israeli for Palestinian territory so as to help ensure necessary security for a populace terrorized and a nation warred upon as few others have been -- but still has no legitmate peace partner (certainly not the current Palestinian Authority, which this year blessed the naming of a major town square after a terrorist mass-murderer with not a peep from anyone on the left including Hitch, and whose current leader has never disavowed his doctoral thesis, a treatise denying the Holocaust took place) -- yes, that's Israel- and Jew-hatred. Why? Because (it is so simple that bright middle-schoolers get it, and so obvious that only potent political blinders could prevent seeing what is in plain sight) arriving at such a lopsided position vis-a-vis Israel necessitates ignorance (at best) and more likely extensive denial of undeniable on-the-ground facts in favor of age-old special (but admittedly constantly re-invented) rhetoric to create standards and storylines that are not applied at all similarly to, or told at all similarly about, any other people or nation on earth but Israel.

A quick example: Do a little history homework and learn, and so never again aver that entrenched and intensive murderous terrorism targeting Israeli civilians has anything to do with the Israel's post-1967 occupation of disputed territories *from which it was attacked* -- since in the 1950s and early 60s, fedayeen using primarily bombs and knives (the bombs just weren't as sophisticated or quite so lethal as what came later) regularly and massively infiltrated into Israel in sprees that killed some 500-1,000 Israelis, almost all civilians, many women and children. Why the resort to terror then, when the 1967 "occupation" hadn't happened yet? Oh, Israel then occupied their land, also, right. Currently, the number of terror-murders inflicted inside Israel is very low, near zero, with approximately six terror-murders interdicted en route to their crimes EVERY WEEK.

With respect, put bluntly, with the insult intended only as rhetorical device, and with apologies to bright middle-schoolers and non-ideologues everywhere, it's the right to exist, stupid.
Masha on December 16, 2010 at 9:38 pm (Reply)
I don't think anyone who has seen Mr. Hitchens's town hall conversation with Martin Amis, his Daniel Pearl Memorial lecture, or his interview by Jeffrey Goldberg can believe he is an anti-Semite.
John on December 16, 2010 at 11:19 pm (Reply)
Let's be clear: anti-Judaism is NOT anti-Semitism.
Sam Bluefarb on December 17, 2010 at 2:28 am (Reply)
Ruth comes closer to Hitchens as latter day “Orwellian”--note: the quotes--rather than another Orwell, which he—Hitch--could never hope to be: Orwell, AKA Eric Blair, was a unique phenomenon--a completely honest man who had the courage to criticize his comrades on the left. As she says, Orwell could write "good prose," another way of saying "Style is the man himself." Admitted, Orwell, was no less given to annoyance, even anger, but he never allowed them to defeat the cool and cutting purpose of his prose. When you read Orwell you are treated to a peeling off of layers of leftist "orthodoxies"-- which he did with a relish. He never took similar delight at taking apart the Colonel Blimps. Perhaps one reason, among others, is that unlike Hitchens, Orwell was formed in the crucible of brute experience--the Burmese Imperial Police, life among the lower classes--"Down and Out in Paris and London," "The Road to Wigan Pier"--his service with the POUM during the Spanish Civil War, his wounding which eventually hastened his untimely death, and that other threat to his lfe, Stalin's assassins in Spain. When I read Hitchens' slender biography of Orwell--almost a hagiography--I had the impulse to mail him a note of gratitude, and--G'd save the mark!--thought of him as "the Orwell of our time." That was only a few short years ago, but after seeing his sheer incandescent hatred of today's Judaism and Christianity, placing them alongside Islam in one morally equivalent cohort--I then knew that his polemics were hardly "nuanced." Could one ever imagine Orwell displaying such spleen, or even wasting his time on the old straw men of organized religion? I sense that Orwell would have had a word or two to say about such self-righteous angry men. Were Orwell alive today, how likely would he have been to have joined the privileged, half-educated, anti-Israel crowds spawned in today's universities? That Orwell was a leftist back in the 1930s--within my memory, not Hitchens’s, who often talks like a 1930s lefty!--was, with the rise of Nazism, not a unique phenomenon, anti-fascist priorities being what they were at the time. In the '30s the Left had all it could do from being swamped by the forces of Nazi totalitarianism and aggression. There was simply no time, or inclination to allow their age-old hate of "the Jew" (Marx) to blunt that priority. The present anti-Semitism is simply a recrudescence of that earlier and deep leftist discomfort with the Eternal Jew, which began with Prudhomme, Bakunin, Marx, leading up to the Chomskys and Saids of today. Nothing much has changed. WW II and the Spanish Civil War eclipsed these deep obsessions which hid the anti-Semitic roots of the left. Jean Jacques Rousseau, the spiritual father of modern liberalism / leftism advocated complete equality for the Jews--if they stopped being Jews. Thus, those great fighters fought on behalf of national liberation of every national group--except the Jews!
len on December 17, 2010 at 3:12 am (Reply)
A test: Do any of Hitchens's words encourage:

1)radical moslems to do violence they would not otherwise do toward Jews?

2) Same applied to right wing anti-semites

I don't think so; it appears that he is despised by both groups. It is one thing to say or encourage nasty behavior to Jews and another thing to pontificate in which the words do no damage. I think I am paraphrasing correctly when I quote Hitchens as saying he would rather have a fundmentalist Christian in a foxhole with him that any squishy liberal. That he is wrong in not seeing the similarity of the Kurds' desire for their own homeland and the Jews is a contradiction that he has not grasped. Now that the Kurds have their own space in N. Iraq and are well armed, they no longer can be victims as they once were; similar to the Jews in Israel.
Bazzul on December 17, 2010 at 7:45 am (Reply)
I must agree with Jon. W. In short you've misunderstood Hitchens's basic premise as an ardent enlightenment humanist.

Judaism is wholly different from being Jewish even if the two are grouped together. And make no mistake, Hitchens's point is to relieve Judaism of respect. This is the force of the new-atheism and it has become a social force.

For the hard-line Hitchens supporters your critique will serve as an example of how to protect a religion from criticism, and how to associate the criticism of ideas with racism and bigotry, instead of making a religious defense (which has been very unfruitful).

By now my position is clear. Religions, to remain reputable in the realm of ideas, must deal with the criticisms themselves with an appeal to diverse scholarship; which you have courageously done in half of the article.

Congrats on this extensive work. It will be cited me thinks.
Jen on December 17, 2010 at 8:56 am (Reply)
Josh, I couldn't agree with you more. This piece says a lot more about Kerstein and the outlets that reprinted it (Commentary, Frontpagemagazine, etc.) than it does about Hitchens.

I am sickened by the anti-Semitic enemies of the state of Israel. I hate the suicide bombers who murder old people and children in Tel Aviv. I believe that the State of Israel has a right to exist. I am a sworn enemy of Hezbollah.

And if Kerstein would bother to do proper research, he would see that Hitchens holds all those positions as well. Hardly the profile of a Jew hater.
PhillipGaley on December 17, 2010 at 9:43 am (Reply)
Conservative by declaration, but left-wing through and through, Hitchens is so much the David Frum type . . .
Bob Miller on December 17, 2010 at 10:06 am (Reply)
1. The circles Hitchens has moved in reek of the same attitudes. The name we give to these attitudes is secondary.

2. FYI, many non-Jewish neighbors like being called on to serve as a "Shabbos Goy" from time to time, to help their Jewish neighbors get some essential tasks done on the Sabbath. I was at a rally in Kew Gardens Hills (Queens, NY) during Israel's Lebanese war against the PLO, where Mario Cuomo and Ed Koch gave speeches (they were in a primary race for NY Governor). Cuomo, no dummy and certainly no victim, made a point of saying he had helped as a Shabbos Goy.
L. King on December 17, 2010 at 10:26 am (Reply)
To coin a phrase, "Hitchens is not so great".

Interesting article. I too have been of two minds regarding Christopher Hitchens. On one hand there is his defense of Daniel Pearl and stance against Islamofascism. On the other there is his intolerance and misrepresentation not only towards Judaism but towards religion altogether. Barry Rubin recently wrote a similar article about Nietzsche. He casts Nietzsche as a philosemite whose pronouncements were adopted by and inspired a generation of antisemites.

The problem is that Hitchens, right or wrong, depending on which utterance, is extremely eloquent, so that when you agree with him you would like to quote his material, and when you do not you would like to figuratively wring his neck. One would like to extract the argument from the man so that you can pick and choose.

Kerstein quite rightly points out that Hitchens gets his facts wrong. Though he would likely not characterize himself as such, he is indeed a man of faith (or anti-faith if you will) and commits the gravest error that he accuses others of - he begins with his conclusions and shapes the facts to fit them. He's a journalist and political commentator, not an objective historian. He argues from principle. For him atheism is to be desired as a universal religion. There is an aspect of that movement that sees politics as a battle for universal salvation as opposed to what I consider the better alternative - good governance. Hitchens is also a rationalist, forgetting G.K. Chesterton's admonition that a person of faith (himself a staunch Catholic) would never claim that religion stands apart from reason.

The fact is that Hitchens is such an effective orator against Israel's current enemies that there is a fear that to discredit some of his arguments would act towards discrediting all of them. This is the dilemma that Kerstein points out. It's also the dilemma of one's desire to remain within a big tent - by hiving one's self off into a group with which you mostly agree, you split yourself off into a group so small that you are without support - which is a recipe for failure.

In short - Hitchens hates fascism and loves the West of the Enlightenment. I tend to agree. Hitchens despises both religion and the religious origin of both Judeo-Christian and Judeo-Islamic civilizations - I beg to disagree. He is also not above using some of the same tropes that antisemites use - in that regard he facilitates antisemitism and should be called on it. If not then the worst of what he writes will bite back, posthumously.
Ami Toben on December 17, 2010 at 10:46 am (Reply)
How can someone take such a big interest in, and write such a long winded article on Christopher Hitchens and get it so terribly wrong?
If you want to understand Hitchens's views on Judaism and on being Jewish himself, read his new book "Hitch 22".
David on December 17, 2010 at 11:50 am (Reply)
Mr Hitchens is, rightfully, disgusted with religion and its privileged place in societies; particularly those in the west who claim to be secular. This should not be confused with anti-semitism. As someone who was born and raised Jewish and is similarly disgusted by the institutionalization of a colossal work of fiction, I take no offense from Mr Hitchens. To the contrary, I applaud him.
Josh Rosenthal on December 17, 2010 at 1:40 pm (Reply)
Hitchens is a genius.
Athena on December 17, 2010 at 1:43 pm (Reply)
Christoper Hitchens is the Serge Gainsbourg of authors.
wc on December 17, 2010 at 2:27 pm (Reply)
How often does the word "antisemite" shed more light than shadow when making accusations like this article? While a necessary word, at a minimum save it for someone who poses danger or insult towards Jews. Ignoring the inaccuracies and truth-bends other commentators have highlighted, it is still impossible to imagine edits that would change this article into a level headed criticism of Christopher's wrong ideas or racism (it would be a completely different article). Your section on Good Jews and Bad Jews is enough to make a cow roll her eyes.

Benjamin Kerstein- this submission is positively harmful to the Jewish struggle.
belodeau on December 17, 2010 at 4:16 pm (Reply)
Politically correct apologetics. You don't like someone criticizing your culture so you blow it up into an "ism" which is ridiculous. Judaism, as the source of all monotheism, is a critically important topic. How can we have free inquiry and progressive discourse if we only tip-toe?

if a Jew criticizes something Jewish, does that make him/her "self-hating?" what is the road map here- are we only to follow an agenda and not tackle issues on their own merit? Hitchens has every right (and responsibility) to critique history. To eschew Hitchens's constant championing of Jewish contributions to humanity as window-dressing afterthoughts is a polarizing mis-characterization.

Incidentally, since becoming familiar with Hitchens's work, i have gone out of my way to learn more about Jewish history and culture and the state of Israel. I can't think of anyone who has inspired this in me more than CH. I would hope you would consider that a check-mark in the positive column.
nyomythus on December 17, 2010 at 6:04 pm (Reply)
Hitchens split from the Left for good.

I think it'd be more accurate to say that Hitchens makes a distinction from the status quo Left that will often excuse the very worst Right wing enemies of humanitarian principles, yet, reserve that hatred for comparatively tame provincial conservatism. Hitchens is very much a classical Liberal.
SWH on December 17, 2010 at 6:45 pm (Reply)
Hitchens has also attacked the Church of England so I suppose we can assume that he harbours a racial hatred of the English. Or maybe no-one of any integrity takes seriously the attempt to ban criticism of secular imperialism by painting it as a criticism of the ethnicity of those doing the imperialising.

I've heard and read Hitchens many times extolling the virtuous and positive effects that Jews have on any society in which they live, he just has no time for bronze age superstitions. What would any self-respecting Jew prefer? That Hitchens loved their religion but hated the effect of Jews on society? Or that he hated their religion but loved their effect on society?
Gareth on December 17, 2010 at 7:29 pm (Reply)
Since Christopher's philosophical grounding is in Marxism, he looks at things in a historical context. Judaism is the root of all Abrahamic religions, and led to Christianity and Islam. It therefore, historically, is the beginning of monotheism: what he really dislikes. But his dislike is equal for all religions because of their main premise:god(s), which he sees as degrading to human dignity and morality and inherently totalitarian. He despises all totalitarianism.

Being critical of Israel doesn't mean you have hatred for Jews. Similarly, hating Judaism doesn't mean you hate Jews.

There is much more to a Jew than his or her religion. It is insulting to hear Kerstein make no distinction between them. That is the type of thinking that, if swung to the other direction, is the same generalization that is required to have antisemitism.

What about Hitchens's lecture on antisemitism for the Pearl family? Easily attainable on youtube. I will quote Christopher's closing statement so such smearing can be thrown in the garbage where it was borrowed from.

"Because antisemitism is the godfather of racism, and the gateway to tyranny and fascism and war, it is to be regarded not as the enemy of the Jewish people alone, but as the common enemy of humanity and of civilization. And it has to be fought against very tenaciously for that reason. Most especially in its current, most virulent form, of Islamic jihad...We must make sure our own defenses are not neglected. Our task is to call this filthy thing, this plague, this pest, by its right name, to make unceasing resistance to it, knowing all the time that it is probably ultimately ineradicable. And bearing in mind that its hatred towards us is a compliment. And resolving, some of the time at any rate, to do a bit more to deserve it."

I have a feeling this smear is more about what Hitchens does not believe in than what he does.
Phil R on December 17, 2010 at 9:34 pm (Reply)
This article was painful to read. The writer seems to miss the point of every quote he added in of Hitchens's.
The fact of him saying as long as the Jews have a (mythical) claim that the Holy Land belongs to them is said, but not that whilst other religions also have scriptural claims, there will be comprimising. So it was an attack on religious claims to land, not on the Jews.
His attack on Hitchens's defending Chomsky's right to free speech was contradictory in itself! He admitted Hitchens only was defending Chomsky's right to free speech and that Chomsky was being silenced due to what he may have published. No where was there talk of Hitchens advocating that the holocaust never existed. Yet somehow Kerstein made this connection. YouTube Hitchens's free speech talk at Toronto where he talks on this more.
Hitchens in 'God is not great' also had to specify the Jewish myths more particularily as they are the origins of monotheistic religion, which Kerstein admits to but still seems to think that Hitchens just has more of a grudge against Jews?!
I could go on and on about the drivel that Kerstein has assembled to form this article, mainly in giving the impression that Hitchens is two-faced in all his beliefs! Though I hope readers of this page have read and understand Hitchens better that this provocateur of ill-thought towards one of the greatest minds of our time.
Daniel on December 17, 2010 at 11:12 pm (Reply)
As the poster 'Ethan' mentioned, Hitchens gave one of the THE major critiques of anti-semitism in his Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture at UCLA. You will not find a more eloquent example of showing up anti-semitism for what it really is.

Nobody that has seen this lecture (available on YouTube as Ethan points out) could EVER call him an anti-semite.
Jonah on December 18, 2010 at 1:58 am (Reply)
I talked to Hitch at a book signing. I had him sign a copy of 'God is not Great' for my mom, who is a recently converted atheist. He asked from what she converted. I said Judaism, and before that, she was a Christian. He replied "Every step in the right direction! Although I hope she's still a little bit Jewish."

I replied, "Yes, as she still has lots of nominally Jewish children".

He said "So do I."
Gary B. on December 18, 2010 at 2:55 pm (Reply)
"wc" - What is the "Jewish struggle" when a Jewish writer's opinion piece receives reprimands from secularists and atheists as we have seen?

"...religion is a crime against collective humanity," but noting that secular atheism is a crime against Judaism is not?

Then what is the "Jewish struggle" which "wc" thinks Kerstein has harmed? Is it a secular struggle? An atheists's struggle?
Sam Miller on December 18, 2010 at 3:03 pm (Reply)
Mr. Kerstein,

To plead special victimisation from Hitchens is absurd, and your mangling of his views betrays your own insensitivity to language. To be critical of texts and theories that one holds to be meaningless does not equate to an irrational hatred of those who believe said texts. And even if it did, there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that he singles out Jews.

Hitchens does, however, rightly identify the Jewish sacred texts as the source of a great burden on society, plagiarised as they have been by every religion since. Again, what has this to do with Jews, and even less, Zionism?

It simply has to be noted:

"For Hitchens, the evils he lists are not just religious tenets; they are ingrained in the Jews themselves."

You said it, Hitchens didn't. I doubt he would say something so foolish, so obviously wrong and self-defeating.

If you would like to see a more polished survey of anti-Semitism, to see his real views, go here:
William Berkson on December 18, 2010 at 6:45 pm (Reply)
I confess that I am puzzled by how seriously folks are taking the rantings of Hitchens. He is wonderfully articulate, but shallow, at least on the subject of religion. His underlying thesis that religion and fanaticism are one and the same is refuted by the atheist Communist fanaticism in the last century, which killed more than any religious fanaticism during that period. When this is brought up, I have seen Hitchens arguing on TV that Communism is a kind of religion. This equivocation turns his argument into a circle, and deprives it of any meaning or force. I find it had to take him seriously on any subject.
lebalo on December 19, 2010 at 12:34 am (Reply)
If there is no God,
Not everything is permitted to man.
He is still his brother's keeper
And is not permitted to sadden his brother,
By saying that there is no God.

--Czeslaw Milosz
Gary B. on December 19, 2010 at 3:03 am (Reply)
Thank you, Mr. Berkson, for noting that "Communism as religion" is among Hitchens' forays into redefining words at will. In studying the slow advances into artifical intelligence and computer design, the problem of knowledge is becoming much more real than a philosophic enterprise. Knowledge is being defined as the "supported proposition" while belief is being defined as the "unsupported proposition." The problem for AI is that in modeling human thinking, trying to find ways of mimicking man's "unsupported propositions" is a stumbling block of great proportion. People believe, because it is a part of human thinking. They believe without support, which is why the silly requirement of atheists to prove there is a God is as empty as the believer's response to atheists to prove there is no God. One cannot prove belief, because by AI it is an 'unsupported proposition." The notion that Soviet Socialism was some kind of a religion makes of it an "unsupported proposition."

Many of the avid supporters of Hitchens seem to "believe" in him, as their fervor attests. There is no question that Hitchens is a clever fellow, but there remains a question how "Jewish" he is. To date in this article and its stream of comments, I have learned that he is both an anti-Semite and a true Jew, no Jew and Jew by only limited degree. Some folks believe one, and others believe another.

In support of the various propositions, one is asked to believe, based on some evidence from Hitchens' opera omnia. Barthes suggests meaning lies over the whole of text(s), such that all that Hitchens' has said comes into play. (Goethe also made this observation.) Taking Hitchens' avid Leftist stance and then avid less-than-Leftist stance, his enthusisam for socialist causes alongside his suggestion that Communism is "kind of religion," one comes up with inconsistencies enough to make fair critique. But Hitchens' powerful prose suggests he is always right, even after he changes his mind. As noted, he is a clever fellow to have acquired so many true believers.
Burnsw on December 23, 2010 at 12:12 pm (Reply)
I'm not as well-versed in Hitchens's alleged antisemitism as many of the posters apparently are but allow me to at least offer my general impression based on what I have heard and read from the man. His ire towards Judaism, in my estimation, tends to be based in the theocratic aspects and religious fundamentalism that seems to be part and parcel of a Jewish state. It would be tautologous in the extreme to retread Hitchens's feelings on theology in any form or flavor as well as zealotry so it is unsurprising that Judaism would harbor a good deal of disdain for the man. That said, I in no way believe him to be antisemitic in the vein of historic racism rather, as I stated, it is ostensibly the numinous aspects of a Jewish culture that he rails against.
Elliott Green on December 23, 2010 at 1:22 pm (Reply)
What is today called the "Left" is on a much lower intellectual and knowledge than the "old leftists" of 50 and more years ago. Even many or most of the Leftists of those days knew more and had more common sense than the "left" of today, which seems to be an easily manipulated body of public opinion. Anyhow, it must be said that the major "Leftists" in 19th and 20th century history generally hated religion and professed to be atheists. But these major figures --Marx, Lenin, Stalin and many others-- hated Judaism more. And hated Jews too. From my research, I conclude, together with the philosopher Robert Misrahi, that Marx received his Judeophobia [hatred of the religion and the people] from Kant & Hegel, the outstanding German philosophers of the 18th and early 19th centuries. So, that Hitchens might be more hostile to Judaism than other religions would not surprise me and would fit into the pattern of many other Western socialsts/leftists of years ago. Some "leftists" today are quite pathological in their hatred of Jews and Israel. Hence, they may easily fall into Judeophobic [antisemitic] movements along with people who are otherwise neo-Nazi in their views.

Here is my article on the Judeophobia in Kant, Hegel & Voltaire and its impact on today's "Left":
here is a summary of the article:, Science and Progress
Mike on December 23, 2010 at 3:02 pm (Reply)
I guess when a person is critical both of religion in general and of the injustices of the state of Israel toward the Palestinian people in particular, and when he produces a large body of writing to support those views, it provides one with a lot of material which can be stripped from its context and used as a means of side-stepping two very legitimate concerns--religiously fomented bigotry, and Palestinian suffering--with charges of anti-Semitism.
Eliyahu on December 23, 2010 at 4:57 pm (Reply)
Mike believes in the widespread big lies told about Israel. The alleged killing by Israeli troops of Little Muhammad al-Durah in September 2000 was used to spark mass slaughter of Jews and other non-Muslims worldwide. However, since then much more of the film taken at the time of the alleged killing by an Arab press photographer has become available. This additional film footage, edited out of the initial film report on France's France2 TV, clearly shows that the boy did not die at that time and place (Netzarim junction in Gaza, Sept 2000). The other claims alleging Israeli atrocities are equally false.
Mike on December 24, 2010 at 12:27 am (Reply)
I don't believe "widespread big lies." I happen to know a few facts. And I said nothing of any alleged Israeli atrocities; I simply had the audacity to state plainly and directly that the Palestinian people are suffering under occupation.
Ruth on December 24, 2010 at 3:10 pm (Reply)
The Palestinians are suffering far more from their own corrupt leadership. They are a people cursed with some of the worst elected and unelected leaders in history, starting with the WW2 era Mufti, right through Abu Mazen and Haniyeh.
Mike on December 24, 2010 at 8:49 pm (Reply)
Ruth: So they've brought it all upon themselves, then? They have it coming? (Including the West Bank settlements?)

Christopher Hitchens, who is Jewish by matrilineal descent, has focused sharp criticism on the religious extremist elements within the current Israeli government. Those who feel threatened by this can respond to his statements in context, or they can remove quotations from context in order to attack his character. They can stoop to that most contemptible of intellectually dishonest strategies: to equate serious criticism of Israeli policy with anti-Semitism.
Eliyahu on December 25, 2010 at 12:06 pm (Reply)
Mike, I live in Israel, in Jerusalem, and have widespread contacts with people who know what is going on in the country. I live in a neighborhood with Arabs. I shop at neighborhood stores and Jerusalem shopping malls. Many Arabs shop in those places too. Your "suffering" Arabs have plenty of money to spend and seem to enjoy consumer culture like everybody else. Further, Arabs ride on buses --the same buses-- that I do. Are they suffering from my company on the bus? I also see many Arabs at health fund clinics and hospitals here. Are they suffering because of deprivation of medical care or because they have to wait for a doctor as I do? OR are they suffering because the PLO flag does not --at least for now, as far as I know-- fly over the Temple Mount?

Why have so many Arabs moved into Jerusalem --that is, into an Israeli-controlled city-- from the area around Ramallah controlled by the PLO/PA since the PLO/PA took over that area in 1996? Is it possible that some Arabs are voting with their feet, showing that they prefer Israel to the PLO/PA form of govt?

What is the source of your "facts"? Anyhow, Israel is being unjustly defamed and smeared all over the world. So I don't that you displayed any special audacity by making false claims against Israel. It is possible --maybe likely-- that most Arabs here aspire to live without the Jews around them and without Israel government. It is possible that they aspire to an Arab state or an Arab-Islamic state throughout the whole country. But having unfulfilled aspirations does not mean that people are suffering.
Al Redwood on December 26, 2010 at 12:09 am (Reply)
Hitchens is a lifelong agitator. The ironies of life finally caught up with him much the same as with the notorious Tony Judt,(RIP) a darling of the impoverished international Left. After becoming an "accomplished auteur" he could not help himself chasing the controversial issue de jour, seeking confirmation to a popular Euro Lefty theme: Hate of Israel and its people, 1/5 refugees from 21 Arab states, he finds one credible voice of the Israeli Left, with "scientific" diplomas, a survivor of the war, and with Martin Amis, his college buddy, fly to Israel in the late 80's to get inspired by a self loathing Israeli who gladly accommodates the two, denouncing the state.

Humility was never his finest attribute. Evidently, with all the readings that he made, he never spent enough time reading the bible, where he could have found ample suggestions how to live like a decent man.
Ruth on December 26, 2010 at 1:17 pm (Reply)
@Mike, re. Pal. leadership: "they," the ordinary folk of the villages, have not usually done anything to bring problems on themselves. They don't know how to rid themselves of the corrupt, self-serving, short-sighted leadership foisted on them. Their political culture is deficient; you won't see an "Orange Revolution" or even a "Prague Spring" there. It's too bad; I'm sure most of them deserve better.

But has their leadership brought it all on themselves? A hundred times "yes" to that question. The "suffering" inheres in refusal to face the reality that the state of Israel, like it or not, exists. When you would rather watch your own people suffer in squatter refugee camps than recognize that Israel exists and thereby find a solution either in granting them citizenship (as Israel did with its refugees from Arab countries) or negotiating a solution, then yes, you're bringing suffering on their heads. The people who have spent 60 years in "camps" are hostages. A huge failure in compassionate, forward-looking leadership.

When you fight reality, it usually wins, and that usually means that someone is suffering.
Richard Z. Chesnoff on December 26, 2010 at 7:21 pm (Reply)
Kerstein's piece was well written and as someone who appeared on TV panels in years past together with Hitchens, I can say it was based in Hitchens's blow-hardish despisement of both Judaism and Zionism.
Mike on December 27, 2010 at 2:41 am (Reply)
Richard, are Judaism and Zionism synonymous with the Jewish people and Israel?

What Kerstein fails to mention is that Hitchens is uniformly critical of the destructive irrationality arising from ALL religious movements--Christian, Muslim, Hindu, you name it. I have atheist friends who identify strongly with their native Jewish culture while also professing views on religion (and religious fanatics) that are very similar to those of Hitchens.

Ruth, you speak of bad leadership bringing grief to a people. Is that a principle that works both ways? Do you think the extremist elements within the current Israeli government, such as the Shas Party that Hitchens was writing about in his Slate column, will bring anything but grief to the citizens of Israel? If suffering inheres in a refusal to accept reality, what suffering will (continue to) inhere in the refusal to recognize the wasted lives of generations of Palestinians, and the right of their state to exist, too? Can the people of Israel get the security they so need and deserve without facing these realities and defeating these bad (yes, I'll say it a hundred times: BAD) elements in their own leadership?

As I said before, Kerstein attempts to divert attention away from Hitchens's valid criticism of the religious fanatics (and also secular extremists like Avigdor Lieberman) in Netanyahu's government by calling Hitchens an anti-Semite. This is nothing new for Kerstein. I went back and read an essay he wrote earlier this year, titled, "Jews vs. Joseph Lieberman," and was disgusted to see he applied the same cowardly tactic to American politics. In his view, liberals who spoke harshly of Lieberman's obstruction of health care legislation did so because--yes, you guessed it--they were anti-Semitic. As someone who has been dismayed by (and outspoken against) many of Joe Lieberman's recent political positions, but who has met the Senator and his family and found them all to be lovely people, I'm deeply offended. But that's the way Kerstein operates. Are you going to fall for demagoguery?
Ruth on December 27, 2010 at 11:45 am (Reply)
Mike, of course the principle is universal, and Shas has some positions that definitely cause problems for Israel. But to immediately "go there" after I've spoken of the tragic "three no's" decisions made by several generations of Palestinian and other Arab (frequently unelected) leaders is to really close your eyes to what I pointed out. The problems Shas causes are much more pertinent to Middle Israel and its internal affairs, such as the problem of the burgeoning orthodox population that does not serve in the Army.

If you look at the scope of Middle Eastern affairs from 1920 to the present, Shas doesn't even deserve a mention. The Mufti's tragic decision to pursue an alliance with Hitler does. The Arab rulers' decisions to urge the Palestinians in Israel to flee so that the Arab armies could be free to obliterate Israel (thus creating the original refugee camps) does. The appalling choices made by Nasser and King Abdullah in 1967 do. The continuing refusal to make peace and settle issues does. The incredibly stupid choices of Yasser Arafat to turn away some pretty fat deals offered by Ehud Barak do.

These, and many other choices, are the tragedies of Arab "leadership" that brought refugee camps, war in Gaza, and the barrier wall along the West Bank. A few Palestinian and other Arab leaders are starting to make smarter long-term choices, bringing removal of barrier walls, opening markets, and better friendship with Israel. Jenin is a good example.

Israel's poor choices have always been made in the teeth of a dilemma, many bad choices forced on them by the world powers and the Arab countries. It's not fair to criticize someone for what they did when they had no good choices if you won't spend a lot of time looking at who created the situation to begin with.

This is all only tangentially about Hitchens, but I agree that criticism of Israel and contemporary anti-Semitism often blur. Both exist and they are not neatly separable. Incidentally I'm not Jewish, I just follow the Middle East for reasons of personal interest. I read the Hitchens article with an open mind, and my main conclusion was posted earlier: he falls short of Orwell, a hero that Hitchens and I share.
Mike on December 28, 2010 at 9:24 am (Reply)
As you say, this is (tangentially) about Hitchens. The point he's been making is that Netanyahu is essentially running down the clock when it comes to peace talks--that he is beholden to extremist constituencies which are busy expanding settlements. You keep going back (very selectively) in history to cast the blame on the Palestinians. Hitchens's point is that Netanyahu is basically stalling while more and more of the West Bank and East Jerusalem are annexed, making a viable Palestinian state less and less possible. (Which is obviously the plan.) That's what Hitchens is talking about, and that's what you keep ignoring in your remarks.

I too am a fan of Orwell. Rhetorically, Hitchens has much more in common with Mencken. What he does share with Orwell -- and I applaud it -- is a willingness to speak plainly about truths that people around him find fashionable to ignore.

Ruth on December 28, 2010 at 3:07 pm (Reply)
Mike: not intending to ignore it, that's just how short comments go. The tie-in, in my mind, is that Netanyahu is recognizing the reality that the Palestinians put their energies into "resistance" and full-blown terrorism, not into state-building. When the Jews declared independence, they had been practicing many governmental structures, local and national, for decades (as was the case with the United States in 1776). The early Bush administration focused its Middle East policy on encouraging the PA to become a real government, not just a front for a terror group. They've made progress. Have they made enough? Not sure.

The settlements in the West Bank are an issue, of course. But even Ariel Sharon was willing to use force to uproot peaceful settlements in Gaza, in order to achieve "peace" via land give-backs. Look what happened. Who would want to try it again? It would be utterly crazy to hand over territory to Iran like that a second time. No country in the world would do it, nor will Israel.

Conditions among the Palestinians have to change radically before such things will work. It may be that the babies being born now will be the ones with the will to make it happen, and there will be more peace for more individuals if Israel continues to "occupy" the "West Bank" until then. Even for the Palestinians, whose lives have improved under Israeli rule.

My personal hope is that eventually there will be a single Israel, perhaps with federal cantons like Switzerland. This was the original UN vision: rejected by the Arabs. Which goes back to my original point. And I still think that anyone who determinedly ignores the Arab "rejectionism" in talking about Israel's "failure" in the peace process should be at least asked why. What is it about a Jewish State that draws such lop-sided criticism? And that's where anti-Semitism blurs in; it does exist, and it makes clear thinking difficult.
Eliyahu on December 28, 2010 at 4:01 pm (Reply)
Mike, you are like a broken record. With you, it's all Israel's fault or it's all Netanyahu's fault. You don't change your tune. You dont' stop to think. You make no mention that Abu Mazen [Abbas] refuses to talk directly to Israel unless Israel makes concessions of principle in advance of negotiations. Such as, not allowing Jews to build homes in Judea-Samaria which was an original part of the ancient Jewish homeland, then the Roman province of Judea, and since 1920, the internationally designated Jewish National Home. The Arabs make a false legal argument based on misinterpretations of law and history in order to deny Jews the right to live in Judea-Samaria. A number of Western govts. do the same. But a lie is still a lie.

Furthermore, Mike, you make no mention of the hate and indoctrination perpetrated by both Fatah/PLO/PA [= Palestinian Authority] and Hamas against Jews in general as well as against Israel as a state. If you are not informed about this constant hate and agitprop in the PA & Hamas media, schools, mosques, etc., then I refer you to MEMRI and PMW [= Palestinian media watch] and the IMRA. They all survey Arab media, particularly the media in the Palestinian Arab-controlled zones in Gaza and Judea-Samaria. Those that spread this extreme hatred of Jews, based both on medieval Muslim bigotry and borrowed European Judeophobia, do not want peace with Israel. The Obama administration should acknowledge this.
Mike on December 28, 2010 at 4:10 pm (Reply)
Well, Ruth, you've put your cards on the table, haven't you? You're against a two-state solution. No wonder you don't see a problem with the expansion of settlements. And of course you're not offended by Netanyahu's obvious disingenuousness at the peace table. You even place scare quotes around the word "occupy." And finally, you bring back the word "anti-Semitism."

Mike on December 28, 2010 at 4:30 pm (Reply)
Where did I write, "it's all Israel's fault"? That's not even CLOSE to being my opinion. This discussion deals with an article accusing Christopher Hitchens of being an anti-Semite. A cheap way to draw attention away from the serious points Hitchens was making. The same writer, in an earlier essay on Sen. Joe Lieberman, said that the senator's critics were issuing a "blood libel" when they argued that many people could suffer ill health and die as a result of Lieberman's obstruction of a health care bill designed to bring coverage to many millions of uninsured human beings. Never mind that precisely the same accusation was made against ALL the other opponents of the legislation--most of whom were not Jewish.

As I wrote to Ruth: Enough. I will just add that I wish you both a Happy New Year and--especially to you there in Jerusalem, Eliyahu--peace.
Ruth on December 28, 2010 at 5:02 pm (Reply)
Mike: a pretty good discussion, though, and *stellar* for civility, as forum comments go. I don't really have cards to put on a table, I'm just a single unimportant individual who follows these things. I don't know what they ought to do. I see lots of dilemmas and bad choices. I guess that's part of why I follow it in the news, and read up on the history, with fascination. For an exceptionally well-informed, balanced, even critical of Israel at times, history of the US's involvement in the Middle East, please try reading Michael Oren's "Power, Faith and Fantasy." I know he's their current ambassador, but he wrote the book before his appointment, and it's balanced.

I brought back the word "anti-Semitism" so as to tie the discussion to the whole thread. It's really about the question: how much can you criticize Israel before people are justified in suspecting that you have emotional reasons for your views, stemming from a historical dislike of Jews? Kerstein felt Hitchens crossed the line, and commenters took both sides. I'm just saying that when this historical hatred exists and still crops up, it's never clear where that line is. We don't have to make the same argument about other political dilemmas and territorial disputes, because Jews do have a special history.

About Hitchens: I still don't know if he's anti-Semitic, but I have found the whole thread interesting. Thank you all.
Gary B. on December 28, 2010 at 6:00 pm (Reply)
It seems amusing that the language of so many posts reveals a priori thinking. One's "settlement" is another's "development," and one's "occupation" is another's "rightful possession."

The two-state solution has been on some table -- that proverbial "table" -- since the first war between a fledgling Israel and its Arab Muslim neighbors, and all the ensuing decades have not moved an inch towards a Palestinian state which would announce its borders. This is easily explained with language and the thinking it evidences. A nation with borders would de facto also evidence all intentions towards its neighbor. Any defined borders for a "Palestine" -- in quotes -- which cede anything to an second of those two states in the "two state solution" -- Israel -- would be a statement by Palestine renouncing land of some measure.

Literally more than sixty years of potential borders being announced has been nuanced by so many ardent peacemakers, as if borders were the last step in a long and arduous process. Not so. It is the first step.

This is why Israel has announced borders, ceded control of areas won in war and the like. It is also why "Palestine" has not.

Debate language all one wants, but the reality is that to date and probably well into the future, the myth of the two-state solution requires one simple thing which is an anathema to the PA, Fatah and Hamas: borders which either envelop all of Israel and mean NO two-state solution, or borders which de facto recognize Israel as one of the "two states."

Occupation? Settlements? It's a fine obfuscation to cover the fact that either Palestine is one of two in that two-state solution, or both of them with there being no Israel. So it seems from one vantage point.

And where is a Hitchens on the sketch of borders? Wordless, because it is easy to be a critic, but difficult to ask the simple question and pose the simple solution. My suggestion is that there cannot be a two-state solution with one of the states saying openly "No Jews welcome" and "death to Israel."
Daniel on December 31, 2010 at 2:33 am (Reply)
This article and much of the ensuing discussion are missing something fundamental I have to remind my undergraduate students to do on a daily basis: define your terms. How is Kerstein defining "anti-semitism?"

Sound like leftist relativism? Allow this Jew to explain: I have heard and read Hitchens state many, many times that he believes anti-semitism to be the most despicable form of hatred. In his lectures and writings, he routinely catalogs the special stupidity, immorality and irrationality of Jew-hating through the ages. And he is, above all, a self-professed anti-theist, so he of course does this while simultaneously making fun of certain Jewish traditions or harshly criticizing them (e.g. circumcision as a covenant). And even if this makes him "anti-semitic" -- again, I wouldn't know how Kerstein defines the term -- we all know very well that he doesn't reserve such treatment for the Jews.

Kerstein gives himself away completely when he eventually states, "In the world as Hitchens would have it, the Jew would cease to exist." While other atheists and antitheists have said as much, Hitchens has said precisely the opposite. Indeed, it is a nonsensical comment if you've paid even the most casual attention to the body of Hitchens's work. Read some books and watch some lectures on YouTube -- the research is awfully easy -- keeping Kerstein's irresponsible quote in your mind. Surely, you'll experience the kind of cognitive dissonance I and, it appears, many others experienced while reading this article.
Moshe Safir on December 31, 2010 at 2:45 pm (Reply)
Hitchens denounces tribalism, fascism, genital mutilation, slavery and genocide, promotes liberty, freedom and would even defend this author's right to make things up and tacitly approve of the atrocities Hitchens rails against.
Rick on January 5, 2011 at 2:41 pm (Reply)
Hitch is Jewish. Did this author do any research at all?

Being opposed to Israel's behavior doesn't make one anti-Jewish. I am Jewish and no fan of Israel, either.
Gary B. on January 5, 2011 at 4:03 pm (Reply)
"Hitch is Jewish. Did this author do any research at all?"

Define Jewish please. After God, Torah, Talmud and rabbinic commentary are nuetered away, and given the Hitch-ish comment that Judaism is "the root of religious evil," apparently the word has some other definition which only the good prophet Hitch and his disciples can understand. I would like to understand what "Jewish" is in the sentence "Hitch is Jewish." Alas, to date and given the paucity of clear definitions, I do not understand. Please define "Jewish" that "Hitch is Jewish" has meaning to the few of us who just don't get it.
Sam Schulman on January 5, 2011 at 4:09 pm (Reply)
I must defend Ben Kerstein against Daniel's comment. Hitchens does abhor anti-Semitism, and yet he truly, deeply believes, if you've read his book, that he hates Hanukkah because of what it celebrates - which is precisely the survival of the Jewish people as Jews. He wishes the victory of the Maccabees had never happened. While much of what Kerstein says in his article unfairly distorts what Hitchens says and feels, in this he is strictly correct, Daniel is wrong, and Hitchens is very odd.
Eliyahu on January 5, 2011 at 4:52 pm (Reply)
Rick, Hitchens has been making anti-Israel propaganda for many years. Maybe propaganda lies, half-truths and omissions in the media --by Hitchens and others-- influenced your anti-Israel position. British journalists are typically anti-Israel, although there are a few exceptions. The BBC, under Brit Foreign Office direction, is notoriously anti-Israel. Hitchens is not one of the exceptions among UK journalists. Just how much he knows about Israel, Jewish history or the Jewish religion is dubious. His mother was Jewish by birth but hid this fact from her children. She did not teach them about Judaism or Jewish topics. She did not teach them Jewish pride. So in what way was Hitchens Jewish? And I think that Kerstein was fair to him.
Daniel on January 6, 2011 at 1:32 am (Reply)
Sam, you're logic comes from the same school as Kerstein's. Indeed, I failed that school. Where I come from, it is utterly disingenuous to call someone a Jew-hater -- or even to suggest one wishes Jews didn't exist -- because one criticizes the Maccabee story. Do you really think Mr. Hitchens raises a glass to Antiochus every year on Hannukah?

Intellectual dishonesty at its utmost, as your response to my post reaffirms.
mb on January 7, 2011 at 8:56 pm (Reply)
Hitchens is British. He is a member of the tribe by birth, but he was raised as a WASP in England, known for its casual antisemitism and long history of more direct anti-Jewish feeling.(Dickens...Shakespeare)

He was raised by a mother who felt, with some validity, that in order for him to have a chance to be in the upper classes in England, he needed to be raised as a WASP. It is not surprising that, even though he is brilliant, he came to anti-Jewish prejudice as a part of his culture - prejudice he would like to deny - prejudice that has nothing to do with his atheism or general anti-religion stance. And prejudice that has nothing to do with his general dislike of Zionism. One can be against Israel's policies without resorting to calling Obama a Shabbos goy. If Hitchens even really knew what it meant, he would realize is very much like a church sexton. One can be against American support of Israel without claiming that "the Jews" have undue influence over American foreign policy. But if one has absorbed antisemitic leanings like mother's milk - unbeknownst to oneself, as part of one's culture, one will exhibit these leanings when expressing one's opinion, and Hichens, to my eyes, clearly has.

Sometimes I disagree with him, often I agree with him; I love the way he will say the emperor has no clothes no matter whom he offends. But sometimes his prejudice is just ignorant and nauseating, such as in his recent article about the "undue influence of the Jews." Really - for a brilliant man to be so ignorant as to even think that the Jews, with no pope, no one person directing how we should think, with the old joke exemplified by the comments here: "5 Jews, 10 opinions" could have undue influence as a people is shocking. To make such an allegation knowing the history of our slaughter, and knowing that the idea that we had undue influence was often used as an excuse to murder us, is shameful and inexcusable. Certainly there can be undue influence of a pro-Israel right or wrong lobby, but that is not the view of all Jews, (witness J-Street, etc) and is the influence any more "undue" than the Cuban lobby's influence on Cuban policy? Given the history, to make such allegations is not only not reality based, it is disgusting. And yet, Hitchens said it proudly. This is typical British antisemitism - not even realizing the implication of what one is saying, and simply parroting widely held views about Jews regardless of their inaccuracy.

And I say this as someone who generally loves him, and his courage to say what needs to be said regardless of the consequences. But basic realities are basic realities.And it is basic reality that the British upper classes are notoriously antisemitic, in often subtle ways. As are the American upper classes. No matter how many Jews are or are not allowed into high positions in government and academia.

I had an older friend who has since passed away, (he would be 79 about now) who was an American WASP of the wealthy variety, and he went to Choate. As his lung cancer advanced, he remarked to me, over dinner, in front of his children, that the Pope during WWII could not have supported a policy of Jewish children being baptized and then kept from their parents after the war, in spite of a NYT article indicating that that is exactly what happened. He stated viciously that the Jews would have gotten lawyers and gone to court to get their kids back - after all, isn't that what Jews do? Sue people? When the image of emaciated, starving, traumatized people trying to get their children back in a hostile environment, when they were not even being given their homes back, when almost all their friends and neighbors had been slaughtered, was brought to his attention, he snarled that such an image was ridiculous, and that Jews know how to work the system, and if such a thing had happened to their children, which it did not, according to him, they would have gone to court.

I figured the cancer had gone to his brain, which it turned out it had, and he died shortly thereafter. But after his funeral, I met his son from his first marriage for the first time, who did not know this story. And, completely unaware of this incident, he said he was surprised that I was friends with his late father, because he was such an antisemite. "Really", I said - "I had known him for 20 years and had not known or ever heard him say anything antisemitic until the end." Well, he said, "he knew to not speak of it in front of Jews, but he used to use the word "kike" as a slur when we were children just at drivers he was angry with." Then he said, "he went to Choate - didn't that tell you everything you needed to know about his likely antisemitism?" I said I was rather ignorant about Choate and its brethren, having been from a working class Jewish family, and he said, "well what do you think those skull and bones types at Yale think about Jews?" He made it rather clear that I was naive to fail to understand that American WASPs in certain circles of wealth hold very similar views on Jews as do the British aristocracy. That the views on Jews of Dickens and Shakespeare had never gotten very far from the public consciousness in England, and certainly were carried in the upper classes there, as well as their descendants here, such as attendees at Choate like his late father.

I know what my grandmother used to say about Gentiles in the privacy of her home - I can't imagine that this man I met is that far off in his assessment that anti-Jewish sentiments are commonly held by, among others, British White Anglo Saxon Protestants of a certain class and educational level. And that such sentiments would include exactly the type of anti-Jewish things Hitchens has been known to say.

So, as much as I love Hitchens, for me to think that he escaped his own culture, or that his brilliance has allowed him to transcend it, in spite of some of the things he has said in public, would be wishful thinking. He is a product of his times and surroundings, and he has no more managed to transcend this than my late friend.
Eliyahu on January 10, 2011 at 4:49 pm (Reply)
mb, your message was intelligent and well informed, unlike many or most of the comments above, unfortunately. I would add to your list of Judeophobic authors (you give Shakespeare & Dickens) John Buchan, George DuMaurier and Wm Thackeray. Buchan, the author of "39 Steps" and other action mysteries, was eventually appointed by the King, governor general of Canada. DuMaurier invented a powerful Jewish villain for his novel, Trilby.
Nena on March 4, 2011 at 2:25 pm (Reply)
I once saw an interview in which Hitchens said something to the effect of the worse thing to be accused of was to be boring and that he'd acquired this motto from his late beloved mother. I suspect that this is at the heart of his inconsistencies. I've noticed a trend, he likes to be controversial, but not to the point of predictability, he'll sacrifice consistency in order to appear forever elusive. I honestly don't think he has any conviction in anything he says. He has a natural leaning towards leftist ideas, but if the majority of people in the world were as anti-theist as he, I suspect he would write a defense of religion. I'm not saying that you have to either be Right or Left on anything, and I do appreciate his apparent individualism, I just question its sincerity.
David Zarmi on March 4, 2011 at 3:24 pm (Reply)
Nena, I think you hit something there.
belodeau on March 4, 2011 at 5:20 pm (Reply)
Nena- your read is very perceptive and i do not disagree on the 'elusive' and contrarian aspect of Hitchens's public persona. However, i do not think him insincere in his beliefs. One constant trend that seems to run as a thread through all of Hitchens's views is his constant humanist crusade against the totalitarian impulse, wherever it may manifest. (religion, philosophy, anti-semitism, politics, nationalism, etc.) If it were true that Hitch would always take the opposite side as his style- whatever the climate- I believe it would only be to push back where the totalitarian tendency might exist.
hunch on April 21, 2011 at 11:53 am (Reply)
How does one judge another's insincerity?
The constant stream of thought from Hitchens probably works to his detriment. He is an unfinished man, like the rest of us. He only articulates his incompletness better than most.
Eliyahu on April 22, 2011 at 7:23 am (Reply)
Don't forget that it has long been fashionable among what Orwell called the British "chattering classes" to hate Israel and blame the world's problems on us in Israel as they used to frankly --and equally stupidly-- blame the world's problems on the Jews as a group. It is not yet widely enough acknowledged that the UK took part in the Holocaust as a silent partner. And many Brit journalists continue to promote the Brit anti-Israel policy by smearing Israel.
Philo-Semite on May 7, 2011 at 9:16 pm (Reply)
I am myself an atheist who believes strongly in tolerance and am disgusted by the prejudices shown by many "leading" atheists.

I object as well to the compulsion of many secular Jews to defend the bigotry of such as Hitchens. Thus is article is a welcome and well-done statement of the facts concerning Hitchen's bigotry.

Indeed, over and over, Hitchen's books contain not only primordial anti-Semitism, but gross mis-interpretations of Jewish culture and religion. For example, the mikvah is a quite reasonable custom which -- like kashrut -- allowed ancient Israelites to introduce healthy, sanitary practises into their culture. Yet Hitchens has mis-characterised the mikveh as ... evidence of Judaism's oppression of women!

In similar politically-correct misplaced emphasis, the website of at least one major atheist organisation cannot wait to tell us ... how civilised Islam is.

All in all, an excellent article. Hitchens (and atheist anti-Semites) have much to account for.
Philo-Semite on May 7, 2011 at 9:44 pm (Reply)
To mb (on January 7, 2011 08:56 pm):

As I have indicated, I am a philo-Semitic atheist. I think your analysis of your Choate friend's genteel anti-Semitism is spot on. Let me add several points:

1. It is indeed grotesque for your Choate friend to have adopted such a cavalier, and indeed anti-Semitic, attitude towards the victims of the Shoah.

2. The truth is quite the opposite of your friend's intepretation: Jewish culture's attitude towards the law has long been a profoundly civilised one, encouraging disputes to be handled by legal process and deliberation, not by violence, nor by civil disobedience (which is forbidden by "dina dmalchut"). Islam could learn a lot from the Jews.

3. There are cultural reasons for Jewish affinity for medicine and law, among them:
- The intellectual nature of the culture is perfectly suited to such professions as medicine and law.
- A "profession of the mind" is also perfectly suited to a minority continuously under threat, such professions being easily "taken along" as prejudice drove human beings from one country to another at a moment's notice. Such "easily portable" professions were essential to the survival of the Jewish community and its leaders, such as Maimonides.
- Such choice of profession has in fact been a device to circumvent prejudice; from the United States to Morocco, even anti-Semites have often been willing to resort to Jewish professionals when their own health or legal status have been at risk. (For example, von Bulow needed Dershowitz, over-riding any genteel anti-Semitism von Bulow might have felt.)

4. It is good to see that some Jewish communities feel sufficiently secure to mock the stereotype. For example, a (not malicious) joke circulated among my own Jewish friends: A few Jewish businessmen decided to open a Japanese restaurant. What name did they choose? "Sosume"!
Philo-Semite on May 7, 2011 at 9:58 pm (Reply)

"Where I come from, it is utterly disingenuous to call someone a Jew-hater -- or even to suggest one wishes Jews didn't exist -- because one criticizes the Maccabee story."

You err on several grounds:

1. Hitchens isn't an anti-Semite because he mocks the Hanuuka story (which is not entirely a "story" but to a certain extent factual). Hitchens is an anti-Semite because of a long and clear pattern of hostility to and contempt for the Jewish people.

2. Hitchens is clearly a Jew-hater. However, even more innocent mis-characterisation of Jews, which may not rise to hatred, may still qualify as anti-Semitism -- the anti-Semitism of ignorance or indifference.

3. Indeed, Hitchens' attitude reeks not only of hostility and contempt, but also of outright ignorance: Hannukah is a festival of religious freedom, not of tribalism. Jewish culture deserves admiration for insisting (so far in advance of other cultures) upon the principle of religious freedom without coercing others. That is, Judaism insists upon religious freedom while discouraging (or fobidding) proselytisation. Would that Christianity and Islam had come earlier to adopt such principles. (Islam still hasn't.)

Moderators: Captchas are a necessary annoyance -- but your Captchas are nearly illegible.
Ruth on May 8, 2011 at 8:49 pm (Reply)
@Philo-Semite, in agreement with what you wrote:

The Jews' affinity for medicine and law goes back even farther. In the early Middle Ages, even before Maimonides, they had a much more profound program of education for their children because they expected every Jewish man to know and uphold the law. Without a priesthood, every man had to be his own priest. Jewish boys spent most of their childhoods in school, while Christian boys did not, unless they were going into the church in some way. They learned Hebrew; in Spain they also learned Arabic and the Koran. The standard program also included medicine (such as it was) and Jewish law. So even as far back as the 12th century, the average Jewish man could fill in as a doctor or lawyer in a pinch.

Their dependence on medicine, law and commerce, not farming, increased when they were banned from owning land as anti-Semitism increased after the Crusades and the plague. Eventually, their role as Europe's doctors and lawyers was formalized. But it began with Halacha.

It may also interest you to know that medieval rabbis formed the earliest principles of probability. A Jewish community had to make family law judgments when there were no witnesses or established facts. They worked out traditions of which events were most probable, represented them with numerical odds, and then developed how to multiply the odds to calculate which events were the most probable in a complex case. They ruled that the most probable case was the correct one. So from their commitment to legal theory, they began the study of mathematical probability.
Eliyahu on May 9, 2011 at 6:39 am (Reply)
The Hanukkah story is historical. It is documented especially in the 2 books of the Maccabees, which have come down to us in Greek, by the way. Of course, historians can quibble over various details in the various accounts of the war with the Seleucid Empire [based in Antioch, now Antakiya in Turkey]. But historians can quibble over many parts of the story of WW2, an event that happened in living memory. To verify that point of mine, just compare histories of the war published in the USA, UK, USSR, China, Japan, France, Poland, etc. Consider how official US histories of WW2 almost always leave out episodes that make the Jews of Algiers look like important allies of the USA.
Philo-Semite on May 15, 2011 at 8:47 pm (Reply)
Some further comments:

1. On self-hatred: A "self-hating" Jew is not one who hates himself; it is one who hates Jews different from himself.

2. Throughout history, self-hating Jews -- from St. Paul to Theobald to Chomsky to Kushner -- have put the rest of their brethren in danger.

3. On Hitchens:

Even a casual perusal of Hitchens' writings reveals lie after lie about Jews and Judaism. For example, one of his recent books includes Hitchens' assertion that Jews were "Stalin's henchmen."

What odd twist of Jewish culture causes it to defend and admire its enemies (like Hitchens) and to express contempt, disdain, or wariness for its friends (like Bush and the evangelicals generally)?
Ken on December 12, 2011 at 4:46 pm (Reply)
Independent Patriot, you say Nietzsche "disinherited his sister when she married a Nazi." Since Nietzche died in 1900 and was insane for the last decade of his life, he must have been a prophet to foresee his brother-in-law's eventual love affair with Hitler. Ken
Miriam on December 13, 2011 at 11:32 am (Reply)
Hitchens' mother was born Jewish and was ashamed of being a Jew. This is a tragedy. Her children knew nothing good about being Jewish and, of course, had no Jewish education. It is clear that Hitchens has a Jewish problem; what a shame, pity, and sorrow.
David Baden - Australia on December 17, 2011 at 8:33 am (Reply)
Just to do the right thing, I will say "kaddish" for him, which I am sure he would have appreciated very much.
Eliyahu on December 18, 2011 at 3:15 pm (Reply)
Philo, it is far from certain that Paul was a Jew. Recall that he is quoted as saying, "I am all things to all men."
Joshua on December 18, 2011 at 8:34 pm (Reply)
Hitchens had no issue with Jews and never referred to "good Jews" or "bad Jews." He simply states his opinions on the effect of their absurd religion and its supposedly derived warrants and rights on the world at large, including those of Jewish heritage (like Hitchens himself), much like any other religion.
Ken on December 19, 2011 at 2:57 am (Reply)
Philo, rest easy. Paul was a Jew.
Eliyahu on December 19, 2011 at 4:03 pm (Reply)
Ken, how do you know Paul was a Jew? He said he was all things to all men. That means he often deceived people about his identity.
Ruth on December 19, 2011 at 4:54 pm (Reply)
Paul's given name was Shaul, and he was a Pharisee, a student of Gamaliel. He just chose to be inclusive ("all things") when talking to Gentiles. I'm surprised that this is even an issue; even a casual reading of Acts establishes his identity.
Ruth on December 19, 2011 at 5:04 pm (Reply)
And I would disagree with calling Paul a self-hating Jew. In the context of the early Christian writings (pre-70 AD), when someone says that "the Jews" came to talk or were trying to arrest him, it does not mean the general population. It means the local leaders/rulers.
Paul also speaks directly against rejection of the Jews, calling God's choice of them irrevocable and permanent.
Konstantin on December 20, 2011 at 7:11 am (Reply)
Hitchens is 100-percent consistent when he turns against Judaism; as an atheist, he does the same against Christianity and Islam. Be he is accused for anti-Semitism. Semites are in the forefront of the global atheist movement.
William Berkson on December 20, 2011 at 9:37 am (Reply)
On Saint Paul, see The Mythmaker by Hyam Maccoby, whose work I have found convincing. You can see a brief summary in the Wikipedia article:
Norman Beck on December 20, 2011 at 2:19 pm (Reply)
A remarkable article. The tone, the tempo, the equilibrium--and the truth!

A. Eller on December 21, 2011 at 3:48 pm (Reply)
Within the comments on Mr. Kerstein’s article are many wonderfully crafted apologetics in defense of a dyed-in-the-wool anti-semite. I ask those writers: Which words of the following free-standing quotes (i.e., quotes needing no contextual background) are confusing as to their calumny, ignorance, vitriol, invective, character defamation, and effectiveness in inspiring hatred?

“A soft version of Rabbi Yosef's contemptuous view of the Gentiles is the old concept of the shabbos goy—the non-Jew who is paid a trifling fee to turn out the lights or turn on the stove, or whatever else is needful to get around the more annoying regulations of the Sabbath. How the old buzzard must cackle when he sees the Gentiles (i.e., America) actually volunteering a bribe to do the lowly work!”

“[The] pitiless teachings of the God of Moses, who never mentions human solidarity and compassion at all…"

The… practices of Judaism as exemplified by the "hypocrites and frauds who abound in talmudic Jewish rationalization" and who operate according to the principle: "'Don't do any work on the Sabbath yourself, but pay someone else to do it for you. You obeyed the letter of the law: who's counting?'"

[Circumcision is the] "sexual mutilation of small boys" and "most probably a symbolic survival from the animal and human sacrifices which were such a feature of the gore-soaked landscape of the Old Testament."

"By claiming to be 'chosen' in a special exclusive covenant with the Almighty they invited hatred and suspicion and evinced their own form of racism."

"The only actual justification offered" for Zionism "is that God awarded the land to one tribe a good many years ago, and of course this appalling racist and messianic delusion . . . only makes a terrible situation even worse."

As his "beloved guide, in the superior sense of that term,” Israel Sharak informs Hitchens’ views on Judaism. E.g.:

"[B]oth before and after a meal, a pious Jew ritually washes his hands, uttering a special blessing. On one of these two occasions he is worshiping God, by promoting the divine union of Son and Daughter; but on the other he is worshiping Satan, who likes Jewish prayers and ritual acts so much that when he is offered a few of them it keeps him busy for a while and he forgets to pester the divine Daughter."

Every one of these quotes depends not on context, but rather stands on its own. Irrespective of Hitchens’ lapses into reason and truth, each quote by itself, and certainly in toto, exposes either a man thoroughly ignorant of Judaism, or a man whose design is to foment hatred of Jews and Judaism. In either case, the man Hitchens spoke his mind. Rationalizing his twisted, yet clearly stated, ideas--and by default, those of his mentor, Sharak--is cognitive dissonance at its most embarrassing. And frightening: This parsing and rationalizing of incontestable Jew-hatred and Judaism-hatred are perhaps revealing as to the beliefs of Hitchens’ defenders. Hitchens’ and Sharak’s pronouncements about Jewish belief give immediacy to the fear surely engendered in Jews by the blood libels of the Middle Ages.
Eliyahu on December 26, 2011 at 7:31 am (Reply)
The plain meaning of Paul's quote is that he tries to get into the good graces of people by pretending to be whatever might help him do that--something like Muslim taqiyya and kasb. In other words, he was a dissembler, which he himself admitted in that quote.
Grumpy Old Man on January 14, 2012 at 10:30 am (Reply)
This hatchet job, full of the most hackneyed hasbara, lachrymose history, and other tropes of modern Jewish ethnocentrism, makes me like Hitchens a bit more than I did. The recognition that Zionism is poison is the beginning of political wisdom.
Andrea Eller on January 14, 2012 at 4:23 pm (Reply)
Which of the Hitchens statements quots by Mr. Kerstein is less than calumnious, ignorant, vitriolic, and conceivably effective in inspiring hatred against Judaism and its strictest adherents? Hitchens spoke his mind. Rationalizing his twisted yet unambiguous ideas (and by default those of his soul-mate, Sharak) is quintessential cognitive dissonance in a new, Jewish form. Hitchens’ and Sharak’s pronouncements on Jewish belief should give any Jew fresh insight into what the climate of Jewish life must have been when the "gentile blood-for-matza" libel ran common, rather than giving cause for defense of the slanderers.
Ryan on March 28, 2012 at 4:36 am (Reply)
I am not much of a fan of Hitchens, and I came to this article with prejudice, seeking validation for my opinion that he is bigoted toward Jews and, by extension, Israel, like the majority of his British compatriots. And I agree with the early assertion that Hitchens' speciality was always more polemics than philosophy. But this very poorly written and supported article may have actually made me more sympathetic toward Hitchens. Very few good arguments are made to support the article's thesis. If Hitchens really did support anti-Semitism or Holocaust denial that would be quite a damning thing; but only very circumstantial evidence is provided that he ever did. At the same time, his own statements seeming to contradict this assertion are dismissed out of hand or twisted to mean something else. By the end of the article, one isleft suspecting that maybe Hitchens really did just oppose Judaism in the same way he opposed tribal identity and all religions, not Jews themselves as a people or an ethnicity, which is the opposite of the conclusion I hoped to reach. If Hitchens opposed Judaism only as a faith or religion and not as a people or ethnic identity, that is exactly what he always claimed; this isn't exactly an expose'. It also makes Hitchens' position highly sympathetic, as his arguments against Judaism that are couched in religious terms are actually pretty spot-on and no more vitriolic, from what I saw, than anything he's said against Islam or Christianity. Finally, his alleged goal of having Jews divest themselves from their special tribal and divisive identity is actually a very noble goal and not sinister at all. It's probably unrealistic, but it would be a wonderful thing if people started thinking of themselves as people and not as members of small groups. That would solve most of the world's problems.
Al redwood on April 27, 2012 at 1:58 pm (Reply)
Hitch was not anti-Jewish; he was a trendy, seeking fame, recognition, and adulation. To his last days he wanted the British establishment to embrace him with a big hug. He was looking at a portable PC at his bedside, seeing how the Brits finally did a gala for him, days before he ascended. Being a lefty, using the Communist Trotsky (who was a Jew) jargon, polemics, ideology simply as software, towards the end of his life he was less Trotsky and more Jewish. (His mother was a Polish Jew). The left in Russia, England, or Germany uses ideology as an operating system to gain power; when they are there, they are clueless how to govern. Obama, for instance, is clueless; with hundreds of socialist appointees, they cannot get anything to work. Hitch fell for the embrace of an Israeli lefty scientist who validated some of his lefty ideas and ran with it until 9/11, when he began to make a complete U turn. Jews or America had nothing to do with anything. It is what happened to him, his fashionably anti-Semitic buddies, trendies who socialized with the left, using the left's ideas to maintain their trendy status. In the end, they are all tiny footnotes because none made a difference. In one hundred years, all these "useful idiots" who enabled, served, and obeyed Moscow will be simply ashes in the wind of socialism.
Al Redwood on April 27, 2012 at 2:02 pm (Reply)
The Israeli scientist mentioned in earlier posts is Israel Shahak, a survivor of the war in Poland.
morgan on December 15, 2012 at 2:21 am (Reply)
This article is full of factual errors and the author should really not speak ill of what he doesnt know.

for example the author claims that Hitchens did not believe that the jews had a homeland in Israel. This is false , as Hitchens himself said: "The jews have as good a claim to the land as the palestinians"

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