The Hidden Anti-Semitism of Christopher Hitchens and the New Atheists

My essay on Christopher Hitchens and the New Atheists originally published on Orthodoxy Today has been reposted on Monomakhos. You can find it here. My thesis:

Hitchens’ rationales for anti-theism of late provide much fodder for criticism. My purpose at present is to concentrate on one aspect of his argumentation, specifically his present invective against the Old Testament. Although his hatred of Christianity is palpable, I have come to believe that there is another, more subtle, hatred at work as well. One that predates the institution of the Church and which arises out of paganism itself. What I am talking about is nothing less than a species of anti-Semitism. Is it possible as one critic has recently stated that Hitchens has a “Jewish problem,” one that “has been an open secret for years”?i

I hope you find it instructive. Any comments can be posted here.


  1. Actually his problems run deeper then anti-Christian or anti-Jewish sentiment. Anit-semitism is misused in your article. Semites are the peoples of ancient southwestern Asia including the Akkadians, Phoenicians, Hebrews, and Arab and their descendants. In fact Arabs resent the term as most Jews occupying the Holy Land are not Semites but Russians, Germans and Africans. Anyway this clouwn is an antichrist. Generally blaming the devil for everything is usually not only unproductive but incorrect in this instance this guy is riddles with legons of demons. He denounces anything incorpeal or anything which would lead another to God. He disagrees with any path leading to God so essentially he spends time with his fanciful linguistics chasing his own tail.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Angela, you are right about the Arabs resenting the Jews as being non-Semites. I mentioned the whole Khazar angle and showed how genetic research has demolished it. And of course the Semites are in deed a broad group as you mentioned. My angle was against Finkelstein who said that the catastrophe that befell the Hyksos became ingrained in the historical memory of the other Semites. Clearly it did not. For some reason though it did become ingrained in the collective memory of the Hebrews. And you’re right: Hitchens has completely gone around the bend. I still pray for him every night.

  2. …….Here is a quote from the Sarah Sentilles book A Church of Her Own When people lament the state of religion today–how different it is than the early church how modernity has perverted real Christianity how things used to be simpler and more clear–they seem to believe there is a pure version of Christianity that we could get back to. Todays multiple denominations organizations and interpretations stem from one early church they think and if we could return to that one church then modernity and all its confusion would disappear.

  3. cynthia curran says

    Actually, Jesus himself stated that about Moses in the burning bush as a fact. And stated that God was the God of the living and not the dead andd he was the God of Abraham, Issac, Jacob, which means they actually existed, but to prove that these things happen outside of the bible is difficult, you just have to have faith. And there is a lot about early biblical history we don’t have information about how it fits into the biblical story.

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  5. Hitchens, in his disdain for theism, feels instead nothing but derision for tradition, no doubt because his atheism demands it. Hence his insistent acceptance of the gradualist, heterogeneous origin of the Israelite people in the first millennium before Christ.

    Think about it: if Hitchens is wrong and the Jews are who they say they are, then this raises unsettling questions about the impetus that compelled them to set themselves apart throughout their history. This begs a further question: why, especially, since it often was not in their national interest to do so? Indeed, the entire history of the Jewish people can be characterized on one level as one long, studied fight to resist assimilation, often against great odds and against people to whom they were culturally inferior. In addition, if the revisionist narrative of natural, heterogeneous growth is false, then what driving force compelled the Jews to view themselves as a people apart? The Bible tells us that this was the command of God, who spoke through His prophets. The improbability of the revisionist position clearly demands that we look at the reality of revelation, something that Hitchens and the other New Atheists cannot do.

    George, in memory of the late Christopher Hitchens (bless his pea-pickin’ heart), I took the time to read your fine and well-written article with no distractions except to get another cuppa. It deserves a long, slow read from beginning to end, and afterwards, thinking about. Thanks for a great article. You think outside the Platonic box we Western thinkers all too often refuse to leave. Your article weaves opposites together and pulls them apart with reasoning that might make Hitchens, Shermer, Dawkins, Randi and even Penn and Teller pause and think before they came up with the perfect answer.

    Your article jogged my brain and gets me back to that place where I am beginning to think the existence of the God of Israel can’t be reasonably denied. Meaning, my faith is as tiny as it can be, and yet… and yet…I cling… as Charles Williams writes, “This also is Thou; neither is this Thou.”

    Thinking about this idea, I just now found this quote online from Charles Williams book, He Came Down from Heaven and will post it here, as it seems to fit:

    It is a recurrent effort, since it is a recurrent temptation: if this or that could be done, surely the great tower would arise, and we should walk in heaven among gods—as when the orthodox of any creed think that all will be well when their creed is universal. Yet the recurrent opposite is no more true, for unless something is done, nothing happens. Unless devotion is given to a thing which must prove false in the end, the thing that is true in the end cannot enter. But the distinction between necessary belief and unnecessary credulity is as necessary as belief; it is the heightening and purifying of belief. There is nothing that matters of which it is not sometimes desirable to feel: “this does not matter.” “This also is Thou; neither is this Thou.” But it may be admitted also that this is part of the technique of belief in our present state; not even Isaiah or Aquinas have pursued to its revelation the mystery of self-scepticism in the divine. The nearest, perhaps, we can get to that is in the incredulous joy of great romantic moments—in love or poetry or what else: “this cannot possibly be, and it is.” Usually the way must be made ready for heaven, and then it will come by some other; the sacrifice must be made ready, and the fire will strike on another altar. So much Cain saw, and could not guess that the very purpose of his offering was to make his brother’s acceptable.