Christopher Hitchens spent an enormous part of his pre-September 11th life criticizing Israeli policies in the mideast and supporting the Palestinian national movement. He co-edited a book with Edward Said, wrote countless articles, gave a million speeches, etc.
Then on 9/11 he realized the secular progressives he’d worked with for decades had been harboring a secret desire all along to live in a caliphate ruled by Osama bin Laden. It seemed like a strange thing for secular progressives to want, particularly the women, but that just underscored how dangerous they were.
Of course, Hitchens’ new allies were the exact same people he’d excoriated for decades on Israel/Palestine. The question then became how long he’d hold onto his previous views on this issue, since they were now glaringly anomalous. For a while he gave it a shot. Here he is in December, 2003:
HITCHENS: I think a second term for [Bush] is more likely to lead to pressure being brought upon the Israelis than the election of any feasible or possible Democratic candidate… it’s a great deal more likely that the regime change forces in the case of Iraq, in Washington, will be helpful in the solution of the Israel-Palestine dispute.
Right. It’s just this kind of clear-sighted, 100% accurate prediction for which Hitchens is justly famous.
In any case, as anticipated, he’s now given up the ghost completely. Dennis Perrin explains:
In the final spasms of our friendship, Hitchens and I exchanged numerous emails about his apparent lack of interest in the continuing woes of Palestinian life…Amid all this bluster, Hitchens never really answered why he was largely silent on Palestinian suffering.
Or at least Hitchens didn’t until he wrote a op-ed for the Wall Street Journal last Tuesday. Says Dennis:
Titled “The Politics of Sabotage,” the piece exposes a part of Hitchens that he’s been trying to suppress or explain away, namely, giving the Israeli state the benefit of the doubt when it’s engaged in full-scale aggression…Hitchens finds that Israel’s “blowing up of [Lebanon’s] bridges and the other interruptions of all air and sea traffic possess a certain grim rationale”…
So committed is Hitchens to this premise that he writes “the former Israeli fans of Vladimir Jabotinsky are saying in public that Israeli colonization of Arabs is demographically impossible and morally wrong.”
These former Jabotinsky fans are part of Kadima…to say that Kadima has renounced colonization is simply false, as continued settlement of the West Bank (establishing “final borders”) immediately shows. And at last look, I’ve seen no indication that Kadima plans to give up East Jerusalem…That Hitchens blames Hamas and Hezbollah for derailing something that doesn’t exist — de-colonization — and that he confuses political pragmatism and necessity for state morality (another phantom concept), merely deepens his deceit, whether intentional or unconscious. Hitchens may not see himself becoming an Israeli state apologist, but after reading this piece (which I’ll send to anyone who wants to read it), I can see why the Wall Street Journal might happily differ.
The rest, all worth reading, is here.