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Christopher Hitchens' “Jewish Power, Jewish Peril”

The Final Solution that Hitchens refers to is more an emotional event
than simply a historical happening.
I just finished reading Christopher Hitchens, "Jewish Power, Jewish Peril," first published in 2002.
Overall, I think the essay argues for the need of Nation States to accept assimilation as a
component of modern globalism. I don't feel that Hitchens entirely believes that. I think
in some ways his language is equivocating insomuch as he presumes, as do many others
including the United Nations and the United States, that Israel is a nation like any other
and should have the chance to evolve as its citizens see fit. Generally speaking, I tire
easily when reading the standard apologetics applied to both Israel and Jewish people as a
group. Since I can think of no other type of human being that is born to both an ethnicity
and a religion simultaneously, I'm weary of arguments that demand my attention yet
presume that I subscribe to a religiously unique idealization of self-determination.

If I learned anything from this essay at all it was that the Protocol of Zion are considered
some kind of magical yet fictional narrative that can harm only select individuals while at
the same time must be considered as rank forgery.

The one sentence that I felt stood out for me was when Hitchens was condemning
the analogies that anti-Semites make when comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, "It would
actually be good if all sides dropped this outrageous analogy, which is designed to
cheapen something, namely the Shoah, or Final Solution, the memory of which must not
be abused." Though I would not choose to do so, I believe that free people in a free
country are free only if they are able to defy the specific type of mandate that Hitchens
has presented.

To analyze the above claim intellectually is to tread lightly in today's sensitive
cultural climate. The Final Solution that Hitchens refers to is more an emotional event
than simply a historical happening. It has become a center point from which no other
event in time is similar and no other event ever can be compared. The ability to
comprehend a claim like his can only be left to the beholder. It is only arguably true that
the scale with which the forced removal of the Jewish people, from the European
continent, was carried out was monumental. That Jewish people are somehow unique
from all other human beings is difficult to posit unless one believes it to be so from the
outset. If the claimant (Hitchens) presumes this to be so, than theoretically, any
transgression against the group (Jews) is qualified as anti-Semitic.

I do not believe that the warrant or assumption for determining the unique
character of the Shoah has been appropriately determined. I say that only as the beholder
to this and various other arguments that center on the qualifying statements made in
Hitchens and others' writings. It is not simply because I am skeptical of the established
history surrounding the event per se, it is that I'm not as moved emotionally to believe
that Jewish people are somehow unique from all other human beings and therefore suffer
uniquely as a result of what is more plainly known as a dislike of foreigners, a burden
common to all groupings of human beings that adhere to long established sets of criteria
used to exclude other human beings they perceive as different from themselves.

Emotional claims like Hitchens may not always be supported through evidence.
What has occurred is that Hitchens' assertion has taken precedence over any other
alternative to comprehending should be a purely historical event placed in its proper
context alongside other examples of human hostility. It is difficult to answer whether this
claim needs to be supported by evidence or not. In 2005 we are still within close
proximity to the event and many people are inclined to let collective memory color the
way in which they choose to view history as a whole. I know of no other event that has
not and cannot be called upon, by historians, to support its fundamental claims other than
the event with which Hitchens speaks. Perhaps in the future we will be beyond the need
to harm one another in the ways in which we, as a species, have since the beginning of
time. At that point one might imagine the Shoah as taking its place among other dark
moments in our collective past.
Clear as a cracked bell 18.Jun.2006 16:56

Maria Valderame

Your post is opaque and cloaked in rational, almost academic intellectualism. Do you also question that the Cambodian Killing Fields existed, that blacks were slaughtered, enslaved and denied equal rights, that Armenians were massacred, that Palestinians are being oppressed and killed, that Rwandans were massacred? In these cases, are you also "skeptical of the established history surrounding the event per se..."? How many slaughtered Jews does it take for you to accept the data on the "Final Solution"? Up to a million, two million, three---? Your argument that these horrible events happen in culture because of a "dislike of foreigners" is about as big a howl as I've ever heard. It has nothing to do with "foreigners"...the Jews in Europe were citizens...completely assimilated. Many massacres have nothing to do with "disliking foreigners". You know it. You are full of it. I, too do not believe that the Jewish people have a lock on suffering and that israeli policy should not be questioned because Israel arose from the detritis of the European war. The fact that the Palestinian people were made to bear the burden of European brutality and British colonial arrogance is a crime against humanity. The oppression and violence visited upon the Palestinians by Israel is not excusable in any way shape or form. to me,The question comes down to this: Was the Holocaust an unimaginable horror because it happened ( yes, happened, buddy) (primarily) to the Jewish people or because it happened to human beings? to me, it was the latter.

But something else is inexcusable: pseudo-intellectual bigots like yourself masquerading as rational thinkers. You're full of it. Why are you so focused on spending your time trying to disprove the scale and scope of the Holocaust? It's clear as a bell. Just as anyone who would spend their time diligently compliling facts that "disprove" the scale and scope of the lynchings that happened to African-Americans clearly has a specific agenda. What? To prove that those who suffered really didn't suffer that much? What a load of bullshit, Professor.

"Is Imagination really more important than knowledge?" 19.Jun.2006 16:17

Still Concerned

I must disagree with your assertion that the Jews of Europe were fully assimilated citizens. It can be argued that they were not, for if they were, it would have been impossible to identify them as a foreign element. It may be given that many Jews were not persons born outside of or had come from a country other than Germany, but it is more the informal description of foreigner that would have them as persons not belonging to a particular place or grouping. Under this definition many Jews would indeed be foreigners simply because ideology would deem them to be strangers or outsiders. Conversely, if a Jewish person, born in the United States, were to immigrate to Israel, they would be a foreigner in the former sense yet not in the latter. This latter definition is only true in the presence of a specific ideology, in this case, Israel's "Law of Return."

In my critique, I had hoped to better illuminate the theoretical underpinnings of the event because I believe it is these that we are pressed to believe rather than any empirical foundations that might call for further investigation. Remember, it was Hitchen's declaration that stated, "It would actually be good if all sides dropped this outrageous analogy, which is designed to cheapen something, namely the Shoah, or Final Solution, the memory of which must not be abused."

With that said, I believe Hitchens has attempted to emotionally concretize this event, not just as a historical fact but somehow as a theory too fragile to withstand scientific scrutiny. By default his claim is not open to debate or analogous to other events because it is by some means unique to the human experience and therefore outside the bounds of what can be held as a rationally justifiable assertion, scientifically verified, capable of logical or mathematical proof, therein rejecting both metaphysics and theism. This failure of Hitchens to discern between empirical and theoretical is a modern error the works more toward presenting an emotional claim as pathos rather than a scientific claim as logos. In this context we must forgive the Greeks in their religious connotations regarding logos. My usage is that of a unifying principle and the underlying reason for belief greater than mere supposition.

For Hitchens, his Shoah belongs to a more mythologized telling of history rather than an edifying event in time. I only question his motives because I find it strange that a citizen of a constitutional republic such as that of the United States would advance the notion of negative sanctions to enforce normative behavior. I feel that many would agree that skepticism in anything deemed scientific fact should not elicit the wrath of the State or its constituents.

Don't be concerned, Sir 20.Jun.2006 16:21

Maria Valderame

No matter how bright Hitchens might be, he has become a Neocon shill. You, on the contrary, are a Neo-Nazi shill who uses the rhetoric of intellectualism to argue for the justification of violence against "outsiders", revealed in your ridiculous statement that you are utiliziing the "informal description of foreigner that would have them as persons not belonging to a particular place or grouping." Who came up with that definition? You? By your definition, the only human beings who would not be considered foreign in the United States would be Native Americans ---certainly not you, unless you and your family have tribal ancestry, which I doubt. This point could be argued with vigor and has merit but is a side issue in this particular situation. So, up against the wall, Professor! You are a foreign element among us and if the persons who do "belong" to the proper group decide to exterminate you because you just don't quite fit the mold, well then, we'll just have to parse the term "exterminated" and decide if it is truly applicable to the action that took place or if, in fact, it would be more accurate and less emotive to utlilize the term, "expunged" or "removed" or "relocated to another dimension" or "returned to its original components of organic matter". We'll have the best minds assigned to this investigation.

Care to answer my questions?

1. Why are you so focused on spending your time trying to disprove the scale and scope of the Holocaust?

2. Do you also question that the Cambodian Killing Fields existed, that blacks were slaughtered, enslaved and denied equal rights, that Armenians were massacred, that Palestinians are being oppressed and killed, that Rwandans were massacred?

I'll wait until you pull out your "logos" and crunch the numbers. Ah, yes, let's excuse the Greeks for their mistake in conflating religion with logos. I'm sure they will give a collective sigh of posthumous relief to know that such a superior being as yourself has let them off the hook.