A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) and the Middle East (and MEI)

The passing of Christopher Hitchens is naturally provoking a lot of comment online, and since he often was engaged in controversy over issues relating to the Middle East, a few words here may be in order. His many incarnations as a public intellectual, journalist, author, debater, controversialist, and maverick all-around bomb-tosser guaranteed that at some point in his career he managed to offend almost everyone: Israelis, Palestinians, Islamists, opponents of the Iraq war, and probably others as well. Slate has a collection of reminiscences up.   I can't imagine many people agreed with all his opinions, which often seemed contradictory; in his later years his hostility to political Islam and support of the Iraq war alienated some of his old friends on the left. His knowledge of the region always struck me as broad but perhaps a bit shallow; still, he kept people's attention.

As he wrote so prolifically, I'll avoid linking to much more. I thought this time capsule from 20 years ago, however, might be of interest: he keynoted the Middle East Institute's Annual Conference back in 1991:

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