France’s most famous intellectual urges Jews not to leave
There is no American equivalent of Bernard-Henri Lévy. Known as “BHL,” he is among the last of a quintessentially French breed, the 20th century intellectuel engagé. As a “nouveau philosophe” disenchanted with Marxism, communism and the excesses of 1968, when civil unrest roiled France, Levy has enjoyed a long and theatrical career since the 1970s, embracing journalism, philosophy, film and an outspoken advocacy for human rights.
His latest book, however, returns to a subject that has animated him throughout his life: Judaism.
At its core, “L’Esprit du Judaïsme” is a reflection on the role of Judaism in the evolution of France, a passionate argument that places the former at the heart of the latter. The book, which will be published in English by Random House this September, ultimately appears amid a considerable anxiety. France is currently home to Europe’s largest Jewish community, but in an era of jihadism and an increasing anti-Semitism, many in that community have begun to question whether the country can truly sustain a robust and viable Jewish future. In 2015, for instance, a record number of French Jews — approximately 8,000 — emigrated to Israel, the latest installment in a recent trend. Anti-Semitic violence, such as an attack on the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in January 2015 and a machete assault on a Jewish teacher in Marseille last month — is on the rise.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Lévy defended the crucial role of Jews in France — past, present and future…
And as he has put it about ISIS et al.:
Thinking the unthinkable: This is war
Nasty old world.