Like me, John Podhoretz lacks the ability to respond to Christopher Hitchens’s passing (Chris I got loaded with you, in 89!) in any other terms than Israel:
Christopher’s loathing for Israel originated in his days as part of Britain’s neo-Marxist left and its post-1967 decision to treat the Jewish state as an imperialist power (where once it had been considered a great success in the battle against British imperialism). But when he turned from those views, he continued to express an alienation toward Israel even when he came to hold views about the civilizational threat of Islamic radicalism that were remarkably consistent with, say, Natan Sharansky’s. In the end, his feelings toward Israel calmed down but never underwent an evolutionary change, because his problem was not with the notion of a homeland for the dispossessed Jewish tribe so much as it was with the continued existence of the tribe itself—a tribe of which he was astonished to discover in midlife he was a member, on his mother’s side. That tribe survived on this earth through the millennia because of its fidelity to the laws not of man but of God. That fidelity, as I am sure he was honest enough with himself to understand, made his own formidable life possible.
Earlier today commenter Woody Tanaka wrote that it was disrespectful of Hitchens’s views on God to invoke God in his passing. So I don’t share Podhoretz’s condescension that only the Jews’ fidelity to God made Hitchens’s life possible. Put it away, John. It’s not the right moment. And yes, I file this piety under the same heading as his brother-in-law Elliott Abrams’s belief that Jews are a covenantal community, with God, and that’s why we’re not to intermarry or he will shun you.