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
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.