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.
– Benjamin Kerstein, “The Trouble with Hitchens”, from Jewish Ideas Daily
Dear Christopher Hitchens Fans,
I used to consider myself as someone in your ranks, but when it became clear that the Hitch was foolishly wrong about God, it also became clear that his thinking was muddled about many issues, including Israel and the Jews. I still think he was right about Saddam, but I can’t say that I was glad to have him in my corner…he gave us hawks a bad name. I’ll stick with Peter, who understands God in a way his brother never could, and therefore writes on the subject beautifully.