Said and Hitchens — two highly literate and accomplished writers — know their audience. Although Verso proclaims itself the "imprint of New Left Books," there is barely a whisper of Marxism in Blaming the Victims, much less an apologia for the Soviet Union or terrorism. Rather, the editors have carefully limited the essays included here (more than half of which have been previously published) to attacks on Israel and the United States.
The result has to be deemed impressive for, no matter how tendentious, the essays are judicious in tone, factual, and amply documented. Indeed, this combination suggests that anti-Israel scholarship has finally shed its extremist, irrational past and come of age. Noam Chomsky here still calls Ronald Reagan and Shimon Peres "two of the world's leading terrorist commanders," and he reaches a hysterical pitch when accusing Israeli forces of attacking hospitals, but his chapter is an exception. Other essays, especially the six written by the editors, are mellifluous, engaging, and even slightly humorous.
But after trudging through nearly 300 pages of lovingly minute analysis of Israeli and American sins, one has to wonder why the authors bother, what inspires them to churn out this carefully crafted nonsense, and what purpose their effort serves. In the end, one cannot avoid coming back to two standard explanations: a large dose of anti-Americanism, with a sprinkling of anti-Semitism, underlies virtually every word in this book.