13 thoughts on “Hitch and the Jews”

  1. I haven’t or don’t remember it, though Benjamin at gefen posted a fierce critique.

    Some things stand out if you read the interview. In particular, Hitchens’s assertion that the Israelis casually expropriate Palestinian Arabs’ land is false. So is his argument that the early Zionists generally wanted to get rid of the indigenous Arabs, which is confounded with his suggestion that the Jewish immigrants actually engaged in land expropriation:

    The historic mistake – even if we agree that there was no ethical error involved – was the assumption that in time the Arabs would simply get used to this expropriation.

    But there was no expropriation. And whatever the opinions of this or that Zionist fringe the Palestinian Jews never systematically attempted to expel Palestinian Arabs, nor would there have been more than minority support for such a plan. (If anything, the early Zionists were excessively optimistic about the willingness of Palestinian Arabs to coexist with Jews.) Why does Hitchens so mischaraterize Zionism?

    Hitchens’s charges of Israeli colonialism are similarly unfounded. Israel has returned the Sinai to Egypt twice, and was eager to relinquish control of Judea and Samaria until they became bases for attack. Some Israelis support retention of Jewish towns and sites of religious/historical value in the territories — so what? Israel is a free country with numerous political, religious and ideological divisions. And anyway the territories were taken in a defensive war; there was no political interest in taking them before 1967. If Israel really were colonialistic — that is, if it behaved like almost every other state in the Middle East — it would have razed the mosques on the Temple Mount and rebuilt the Temple, and it could easily have conquered the area from Cairo to Amman to Damascus to Beirut. (Speaking of Beirut, what about Syrian colonialism?)

    Hitchens’s focus on the imperfections of democratic Israel and Zionism is peculiar, given the terrible record of almost every other state in the region. His animus toward religion I don’t really care about, because I think, on that topic, that he’s a dope. But if he’s going to scrutinize a country there are lots of worse ones around, so why all the attention on Israel?

  2. Is it not true that the settlements exacerbate the situation? Surrounding evils admittedly greater, our support should be respected by truly avoiding conflict.
    Dunno..seems like the world spends a fair amount of energy mopping up conflicts that have British “mandates” in their history.

  3. Here’s a bit of cheap armchair psychoanalysis; remember, you get what you pay for.

    Hitchens is of the British Left, Trotskyist initially, and to some extent still. So British guilt, founded in Britain’s responsibility for encouraging Zionism early on, meets a peculiar anti-semitism, which broadmindedly tolerates a Jewish individual, but twitches its collective nose at “those people”.

    Add to that his romantic sympathy for the oppressed and stateless, and Said’s influence. And then, he comes to know personally Kurds, marsh Arab Shi’a, and Makiya. And Saddam. For their sake, he can support the use of American power, while remainimg a man of the Left, a contrarian (proud label), and an anti-zionist.

  4. “His animus toward religion I don’t really care about, because I think, on that topic, that he’s a dope.”

    I believe that is the key, Jon. Hitchens’ article can easily be criticized from many angles, but this one is the most important: he will always side with democracy against tyranny, but in the article Israeli democracy is marked with the Zionist original sin. His hatred of religion is so deep that he can contradict any historical fact without noticing it. Coming from an undoubtedly intelligent and cultured person, that is exactly what surprised me the most and what explained the whole thing.

  5. Typical. Can’t disprove statements so call names. Even if Hitchens were Caliban with horns and purple spots, his words would stand. Haven’t sen a Fisking? For sure none of you schoolyard yappers could do the job.

  6. Alene and Val: I think that you are both probably right.

    Dick Thompson: I stated my opinion then supported it by reference to Hitchens’s words. I argue that some of what Hitchens says is false. You disagree? Then explain why I’m wrong. We await your refutations. So far all you have done is call us a name while accusing us of name calling. Not very impressive. (Or is this “typical” for you?)

  7. Anyone who bases his arguments about Israel on insulting Sharon is being a pseudointellectual baby. Sharon these days is about as right wing as Nixon, concentrating on reelection by pandering to the Center, thus destroying the opposition. Sharon as the dangerous ideologue is SO 80’s. You want to question is morals? fine, there’s plenty to question. But it has NOTHING to do with his policies regarding the Palestinians, which reflect the beliefs of the average mainstream (secular) Israeli.

  8. Also, OF COURSE the early Zionists knew there was going to be conflict with the Arabs. The Arabs had already started massacres a century ago. I mean, duh

  9. In response to the statement that the Intifada began in 1987, Rabin once said: “Friends, you are mistaken. The intifada began in Nes Ziona, in Wadi Elhanin, when Arabs killed Avraham Yalofsky in 1888.”

    For Hitchens, this is proof we’re guilty!!!
    How can you argue with someone like that?

    All kinds of communists hated Zionists, not just Trotsky. Lenin in his student days disrupted Zionist meetings. Zionism and Communism competed over the same limited pool of Eastern European Jews.

  10. Hitch says in the interview:

    Well, the problem of Palestine is not, I hope, so anguishing and cataclysmic that it needs my personal solution

    WOW THIS GUY IS GOD!!!!!!! Amazing!

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