Christopher Hitchens’ ‘Fundamentalist’ Exemption for Zionism

In Arab culture there is a strong imperative to not speak ill of the dead, but I’m going to have to make an exception for Christopher Hitchens. Knowing Hitchens, I’m sure he’d approve. Hitchens had a tenacity and ferociousness that would not compromise for considerations of tact, tradition, or politeness. That was something I admired about him, and will pay tribute to it in the only fitting way possible.

I only met Christopher Hitchens once, on March 9th, 2006. The New York University Remarque Institute held an event entitled “What Happens Now? Israel And The Palestinians after Gaza, Sharon, And Hamas.” Hosted by the great late Tony Judt, it brought Hitchens to speak along with Lebanese novelist Elias Khoury and Israeli journalist Gideon Levy.

The discussion was very interesting and intelligent, until Hitchens took the pulpit and started hyperventilating about Hamas winning the Palestinian elections. He went on for 20 minutes on the evils of religion in politics. A theocracy, he said, could never make peace with its neighbors and will always discriminate based on idiotic religious grounds. Palestinians thus deserved to be isolated and punished by the USA for choosing a religious regime.

After his talk, I took Hitchens aside and asked him why he didn’t feel the same way about the other religious fundamentalist regime in Palestine: Zionism. If he was so concerned about Hamas’s religious fundamentalism, why was he silent about the religious fundamentalism that is driving millions of Palestinians out of their homes, occupying their land and denying them freedom because of their religion? Shouldn’t America deal with Jewish fundamentalism in the same way he wants it to deal with Islamic fundamentalism?

For once, I saw him flustered and speechless. It was clear he genuinely had not thought of this and now he felt thoroughly embarrassed. He smiled, looked around, tried to find something to say, but came up with nothing. He then tried to ignore me by going back to his comfort zone and engaging in a shouting match with a Muslim and calling him a “fucking peasant.” (That man was Ashraf Laidi, a currency trader and author whose CV indicates he’s never really been a peasant.) I asked Hitchens if he’d make my point in his next talk about Palestine/Israel, and again, he had nothing to say. I ended with: “well, either tell me why I’m wrong or admit you’re wrong and that in your next speech you’ll denounce Islamic and Jewish fundamentalism in the same way.” The stupid smirk left his face, and he walked away.

This was post-2001 Hitchens. The over-riding directive of his life was to make money by pleasing American right-wingers by dressing up their idiotic nationalism, chauvinism, and jingoism with Big Words and an English accent. It was a highly rewarding career, because he sold to morons who watch Sean Hannity the illusion that they are not complete cretins, and they pay top dime for that sort of intellectual deceit.

Clearly, it was not part of the New Hitchens act to include material critical of Israel, since the awful Islamo-Fascist-Satan-Beast had to be defeated at all costs. This life-long crusader against religion had perfected his new act to the point that he had stopped noticing, entirely, that Israel was a state based on religious discrimination, and was championing its case as it went on ethnically cleansing people who came from the wrong religion. Still, I’m sure on his death bed he would have imagined that this was all worth it, since it helped Israel and George W. Bush, the two greatest forces of secularism of our time, to spread the gospel of enlightenment, freedom, rationalism and tolerance to the “fucking peasants” of the Arab world.

159 thoughts on “Christopher Hitchens’ ‘Fundamentalist’ Exemption for Zionism”

  1. When I was 8 and 9 years old I spent two summers at the so-called Werkdorp Wieringen in the Netherlands where mostly young Jews were trained for agrarian work. Many of them did not really consider themselves Zionists but were going to do Alyah, or return to the "Promised Land". I learned soon that even the Zionists were far from a uniform group because their "members" ranged from ultra-orthodox to Stalinist with almost everything in-between including outright fascists. It was also clear to me that the leaders of the Zionist movement did not really care. A body was a body more to settle in the British Mandate of Palestine.
    This experience was crucial for me in 1945. Amsterdam, where we lived, had become a leave center for Allied soldiers in Germany. One day my older sister brought to our home a member of the Jewish Brigade of the British Army. He assumed that I was Jewish and sympathetic to Zionism. He offered to smuggle me into the Mandate. When I asked why he said: "we will kick the Arabs out of our land". I replied: "the kicking out of people has to stop now everywhere on Earth". Of course I did not go.

    1. I heard Michelle Bachmann say she went to work on a Kibbutz when she got out of school. I assume it was one of the Stalinist variety. A plus for her in her Presidential campaign.

  2. Anyone interested, Alexander Cockburn wrote an wonderful essay on C.H. in Counterpunch.
    Glenn Greenwald did the same for Salon.

    As everyone knows, Cockburn – as are most people of the Real Left – was no fan of C.H.

    Best line of the Cockburn's Farewell to C.H. essay: after Hitchens had dug up his Jewish roots, Cockburn writes: I always liked Noam Chomsky’s crack to me when Christopher announced in Grand Street that he was a Jew: “From anti-Semite to self-hating Jew, all in one day.”)

    Had Hitchens truly been a 'contrarian', he would have never had the coverage and adulation of the lapdog-corporate-statist press.

  3. I always meant to buy a horsewhip and if perchance saw CH on the steps of his club, would have horse whipped him for his attacks on Mother Theresa. He could be charming but was a warmongering Trotskyite (neo-con) Zionist. Zionism isn't Judaism and is a stain on the religion so he could well praise the fascist state and not in anyway support religion.

    The American right is more in the grips of the Trotskyites than the left who are mainly cowards.

  4. I have wondered if, after he decided to become right-wing, he absolved Henry Kissinger of the monstrous crimes of which he convicted him in his book "The TRial of Henry Kissinger".

  5. How many people forget that it was the Palestinians of the pre-1994 era where a largely more secular people.? The history of HAMAS is well know. History has shown that the mossad initially used them as a tool to discredit Arafat's Fatah movement. I did google Hitchens and Zionism. He has a Charlie Rose interview where he says he says very anti-Zionist things even trying to dissuade his mother from going to Israel. This article shows a good point for 2011 Israel and Palestine. Googling Hitchens gets his pre Sept 11th attack viewpoint and his afterwards viewpoint.

  6. "flustered and speechless" LOL! It is so easy to claim victory over Hitchens now that he is dead and can't write a rebuttal to to your innane drivel. Hitchens would have wiped the floor with you mate.

  7. I saw him asking for a moment of silence for some fresh victims of his war in Iraq as part of a debate against George Galloway justifying it. A militant atheist taking time to invoke silent prayer shows how evil this little shite really was.

  8. YAAA….. But in the end Hitchens bought the joke legend of the Neocon's 911 gambit…. He fell for it lock stock and Jack Daniels….. !!!!!

  9. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQxhyy9Wpb4
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Hitchens

    Need I go on?

    It seems to me that the author was confused, and greatly irritated, by the fact that he wasnt getting a straight answer from Hitchens on the Israeli/Zionish Jewish question. Obviously if the author had read any of the previous things that Hitchens had said on the topic he would have sorted out an answer rather quickly. So, maybe it was more the case that Hitchens was annoyed at SUCH A STUPID question, gave the author a chance to ask something more intelligent, then got up and walked away when he figured it was likely not to happen.

    Another thing, to say that Hitchens was a Jewish apologist puppet only looking to make a buck is a conspiracy theory that is such an extraordinarily easy and overly simplistic thing to make up, especially in light of the situation that occurred between the author and Hitchens, that it can be dismissed solely on the reason that its a "nice story, but explains nothing".

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    In Arab culture there is a strong imperative to not speak ill of the dead, but I’m going to have to make an exception for Christopher Hitchens. Knowing Hitchens, I’m sure he’d approve. Hitchens had a tenacity and ferociousness that would not compromise for considerations of tact, tradition, or politeness. That was something I admired about him, and will pay tribute to it in the only fitting way possible.

  11. Yes, you can find a number of Hitchens' videos on YouTube denouncing Zionism and giving some really good and honest thought to the poison of ZIonism. However, this is all before 2001, when he completely flip flopped on all of his principles and became an absolute apologist for all of America's wars, as well as Israel's policies in the face of what he would then call "islamo-fascism". φωτιστικα

  12. You have to follow his career very carefully, and pay close attention to dates, when it comes to Hitchens, because at some point he totally and completely sold out, this is a fact. If you want to see this highlighted in the best manner possible, I urge you all to check out a 2003 debate, hosted by Democracy Now; George Galloway vs Christopher Hitchens. Seriously, whoever is critisizing this author for "having no idea about Hitchens" needs to carefully watch this debate. φωτιστικα

  13. You have to follow his career very carefully, and pay close attention to dates, when it comes to Hitchens, because at some point he totally and completely sold out, this is a fact. If you want to see this highlighted in the best manner possible, I urge you all to check out a 2003 debate, hosted by Democracy Now; George Galloway vs Christopher Hitchens. Seriously, whoever is critisizing this author for "having no idea about Hitchens" needs to carefully watch this debate. φωτιστικα
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  15. Hitchens in 1991 was one of the BIGGEST critics of the American invasion of Iraq via Operation Dessert Storm, however in 2003, he was one of the biggest apologists for George Bush and Tony Blair in their newfound Middle East adventures.

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