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November 5: Bernard-Henri Levy

Lawrence Bush
November 4, 2016
French activist philosopher, playboy, and public intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy, who identifies as a leftist while tearing down many of the fundamental premises of leftwing thought, was born in French Algeria on this date in 1948. Levy began his career as a war correspondent covering the Bangladesh war of independence before shifting into philosophy as a founder of the New Philosophers school of young, progressive intellectuals who emerged from the crucible of the 1968 upheaval in France as sharp critics of existing communist and socialist movements. In 1977, Levy published Barbarism with a Human Face, an anti-Marxist book that turned him, writes Jacques Hyzagi in the New York Observer, into "France’s favorite punching bag." Others of his thirty-plus books are Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism (2008), American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville (2006), War, Evil, and the End of History (2004), and Who Killed Daniel Pearl? (2003). Far from being an armchair intellectual, Levy has embedded with the Israeli army in Gaza ("I saw how careful the Israeli army was with the civilian population, how gentle they were with Palestinians, how cautious they were before entering a house"), engaged in talks with Libyan rebels against Qaddafi in Benghazi, dodged snipers' bullets in Sarajevo, and traveled into Iraq to talk with Kurdish fighters against ISIS. To read his views on Israel and the two-state solution, click here. "The conservatives want to revolutionize the world all at once. And that's a dangerous proposal."--Bernard-Henri Levy

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.