On Jewish Ideas Daily, the extraordinary website run by my predecessor as editor of COMMENTARY Neal Kozodoy. the young critic Benjamin Kerstein offers a coruscating and long-overdue analysis of Christopher Hitchens’s animus toward Judaism.
Kerstein shows how the intellectual fundament of Hitchens’s thought about Judaism, Israel Shahak, was “cracked” (among other things, he accused Martin Buber, the 20th-century Jewish philosopher, of mass murder). Most important, he reveals the ways in which Hitchens’s passionate atheism cannot be used as the explanation for his feelings about Judaism, which run deeper than his hostility to the faiths that followed it; as Kerstein writes, “Judaism is to blame for everything Hitchens hates about monotheism as a whole.”
It’s a dazzling analysis of a dazzling polemicist whose brave turn against the sacred cows of his own leftist camp in the past decade should not blind us to the ugliness of his own core ideas.