From Martin Peretz Blog:
I just came from a lecture by Bernard-Henri Levy at the 92nd Street "Y" in New York. Lucid and learned, the talk was about anti-Zionism as the favored new form of anti-Semitism. Levy spoke for an hour and a half without a note...and without hesitation. His is the eloquence of the great orators, word following thought, of course, but with careful cadence and deep symbolic association. A friend said to me that Levy reminded him of how Leon Blum was said to move a crowd: with the passion of his intelligence.
BHL focused on the contemporary war against Israel. Taking Hezbollah and Hamas as exemplars, he pointed out that their strategies are post-Clausewitzian. They have no recognizable politics, or no politics except the total elimination of Israeli society and the Israeli state. Has either one of these movements ever stated another aim? So they are enlisted by definition in the enterprise of total war, like some of the wars of antiquity.
Fortunately, these warriors are underequipped. But their aims are clear and plenary. When they have nuclear weapons at their disposal, they will use them.
What’s your relationship to Israel?
For a long time, for all the Jews of the world and, in particular, for me, Israel was perceived as an asylum and a refuge. Today, the disunity of Israel, the constant attacks on the country, the danger from its most uncompromising enemies, and, thus, the necessity of defending it against any injustice, are such that the relationship has been inverted: It’s the protector that must be protected.
What caused you to turn to explicitly discussing anti-Semitism?
Its return. And a relatively new rhetoric. Anti-Semitism, to pass under the radar, to become again undetectable, to be in a position to operate without being accused of being anti-Semitism, must draw from three sources: anti-Zionism, the denial of the Holocaust, and victim competition. It must articulate the following discourse: “The Jews are a detestable people who, firstly, invented and exaggerated their own martyring”—which is denial of the Holocaust; secondly, “They overshadowed, in doing so, the martyring of other people”—which is victim competition; and, thirdly, “They accomplished this crime because they are obsessed with the defense of an assassin state”—which is anti-Zionism.
In your latest book, you condemn Hugo Chávez and were critical of Nicolas Sarkozy for meeting with him. Barack Obama has promised a similar unconditional visit. Does that worry you?
Yes. Because Chávez is not a democrat. He is, at minimum, a populist dictator. Perhaps a true Fascist—with, what’s more, a connection to Ahmadinejad. I like Obama. I would vote for him if I were American. But an American president cannot shake the hand of a man who practices government anti-Semitism and who advocates the destruction of Israel