December 18, 2011, 10:40 AM
I have read several appreciations of Hitchens written by conservatives and neo-conservatives who knew him and appreciated his transformation from a man of the left into a man of the right since the US invasion of Iraq.
All of these essays, like the generous conservative swooning over Hitchens for the better part of the last ten years makes me uneasy. For all of his personal transformation, there is one prejudice that I don't think Hitchens every abandoned and that is his anti-Semitism.
Please read the linked essay on the subject by Benjamin Kerstein. Kerstein wrote it last December and I believe that he definitively proved that my unease at Hitchens has always been well-deserved.
The fact that so many pro-Israel conservatives are willing to overlook his underlying, and always obvious hatred for Judaism is I believe the function of a larger problem. Jews are always reluctant to admit that just because someone is good on everything other than Jews doesn't mean that we can give him a pass on hating us.
And we can't give anti-Semites a pass. They won't end their bigotry because we love them. They will see our love as justification for their hatred. After all, we must deserve to be hated if we are so willing to embrace our haters. To the best of my knowledge, Hitchens never disavowed his antipathy for Israel or his rejection of our right to define ourselves as a nation or our legal, national and moral rights to the land of Israel. And so I will never disavow my objection to him and refusal to give him a pass for his anti-Semitism.
He may have known how to hold his liquor, spin a yarn, turn a phrase and all the rest, but he was no hero in my eyes. He was a Jew hater.