Tuesday, May 17, 2005

He Means Well

Inconsistent Bloviator

Backspin has a thought-provoking item on the intelligent but congenitally inconsistent Brit writer, Christopher Hitchens. While attacking those who call Iraqi terrorists "insurgents," at other times he speaks with considerably greater warmth on the Palestinian cause.

Hitchens can't be classed with the half-baked ideologues and fifth-rate Fleet Street bozos who infest British and British-expatriate-in-the-U.S. journalism. He very publicly split from the left after September 11th, and gained many enemies in the process. However, Hitchens does seem to have a blind spot on the Israel-Palestinian dispute. Note the following from an interview with him in FrontPage Magazine:

The Balfour Declaration and the Sykes-Picot agreement preceded the Palestine Mandate, and planned for a disastrous partition of the region which we are still (or those of us who know about it) compelled to regret.

As my mother would say, Hitchens "means well." (The "those of us who know about it" comment is only mildly condescending by British standards.) But he still has an engrained Marxist-British hostility to Zionism, colored by both far-left brain-washing and post-imperialist guilt, that poisons his thinking.

Note the quote above. I've picked one of the less hysterical and more rational passages from his FrontPage interview. What his analysis ignores is that the Sykes-Picot agreement never amounted to anything, and that the Balfour Declaration didn't "plan" for a future partition by any stretch of the imagination. Hitchens further ignores that the first partition was the one that snapped off Trans-Jordan from Palestine in the 1920s, and that the 1947 partition plan, rejected by the Palestinians, would have provided an Arab state considerably larger than anything possible today. To my knowledge, neither the partition that created Trans-Jordan nor the rejection of the '47 partition plan ever penetrates the prejudiced skulls of British Zionistphobes (or the media generally, for that matter).

Now, keep in mind that this is a fellow who is basically intelligent and independent-minded. Combine this kind of engrained hostility to Zionism with a more rigidly leftist mindset, and you have a good idea of the wretchedness of the British intelligentsia today.