14 December 2010

Some Jews and their Christopher Hitchens problem

Benjamin Kerstein, a fellow Jew, Tel-Avivian, "writer, blogger, Zionist, film critic, senior writer at The New Ledger", produced quite a broadside titled Christopher Hitchens’s Jewish Problem. I am not sure whether Benjamin writes about The Dude regularly or this is his first essay on the subject. I am also not sure whether the timing of this piece is so clever, taking into account the health situation Hitch is going through (I wish him till 120, hoping quite against hope).

I was amazed by the amount of work Benjamin invested into this opus. Its size is the best witness to the passion he experiences (most probably) regarding Hitch's perceived anti-Semitism. This passion is, probably, what clouded his thought process to produce a long and rambling flop. Rather an insult to one's eyes, not to mention one's intellect, puny as it may be in my case.

To start with, the author consistently confuses Hitch's anti-Judaism with anti-Semitism. Granted that the formal definition of  "Who is a Jew" is mucho confused and intermixed with Judaism, but this conundrum has nothing to do with dry, clear and precise definition of anti-Semitism. Benjamin could always look it up in a dictionary.

As for Hitch's extremely negative attitude to Judaism: come on, Benjamin! Imagine that you have dedicated a good part of your life effort fighting religions - all of them. Now, what is the source and the foundation of the two major (quantitatively speaking) religions? How would you feel and talk about this source, given that you are a brilliant, albeit extremely abrasive - I would even say acidic - speaker and thinker? Will Judaism get a preferential treatment or the shaft then?

And quoting the attack on Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, not even trying to separate it from the political substance of what Hitch is saying - isn't this trick a bit low? One can disagree with Hitchs' take on ME peace process (or the lack of thereof), but using this wretched quote about our wretched Rabbi as an example of anti-Semitism? Puerile.

Hitch is not a saint and is far from being omniscient. His famous treatment of Maccabees' defeat of the Hellenistic regime was a fallacy. But as a proof of his anti-Semitism it doesn't hold water.

There are many more examples of why Benjamin Kerstein's essay is one long blooper, but to finish this (already too long) post, I shall mention only one other example: Benjamin refers to Hitch's supposed admiration of Israel Shahak as proof of his anti-Semitism, forgetting for the purpose one small detail: Israel Shahak happens to be a Jew as well, somewhat dulling the edge of the argument...

Anyway, the best answer to the whole anti-Hitch litany is this:

Oh, and by the way, looking in the mirror, I can confess to the following: I do have a big problem with all religions. I don't feel any respect or other positive feelings re Rabbi Ovadya (and some other rabbis, come to think of it). While I am off Shahak forever, I do love poetry of anti-Semite Eliot and prose of anti-Semite Gogol and more of that ilk (no, I don't love music of anti-Semite Wagner, my bad).

So brand me now an anti-Semite too...


jams o donnell said...

I knoe this is a bit heretical but I have never  held Hitchens in quite the high regard that other bloggers have. Can't imagine how anyne could twist him into an ati semite though

SnoopyTheGoon said...

I do hold Hitch in high regard, but wouldn't force this attitude on anyone. And of course he is not A/S. It's pure B/S if you ask me.

jams o donnell said...

Don't get me wrong min ami, he does have a lot of good stuff to say (with a bit of crap too). At the end of the day he is not his brother and that is a major plus in my books!

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Re the bro: truer words were rarely said.