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Bernard-Henri Lévy

French philosopher; Bestselling Author; Filmmaker; Activist

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Bernard-Henri Lévy is a French philosopher and one of the most esteemed and bestselling writers in Europe. He is the author of over 30 books, including works of philosophy, fiction, and biography. Lévy gained renown for his documentary film about the Bosnian conflict, Bosna!, in 1994.

His most recent books include; “The Genius of Judaism,” New York Times bestseller “American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville” and “Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism.”

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Bernard-Henri Lévy - Guest Sermon - 1.21.17

Bernard-Henri Levy at Columbia University OneForTheWorl ...

Bernard-Henri Lévy on Mosul film

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Bernard-Henri Lévy is a French philosopher and one of the most esteemed and bestselling writers in Europe. He is the author of over 30 books, including works of philosophy, fiction, and biography. His most recent book, The Genius of Judaism, was published in January 2017 by Random House. American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville was a New York Times bestseller (2006). Subsequent books in English are Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism (2008) and, with Michel Houellebecq, Public Enemies: Dueling Writers Take on Each Other and the World (2011). A 2013 book, Les Aventures de la Vérité—Peinture et philosophie, explored the historical interplay of philosophy and art. The book was written as a companion to a successful exhibition curated by Lévy at the Fondation Maeght in Saint Paul de Vence (June 29–November 11, 2013). His last play, “Hotel Europe,” which premiered in Sarajevo on June 27, 2014, and in Paris on September 9, 2014, is a cry of alarm about the crisis facing the European project and the dream behind it. He is a columnist for Le Point, El Pais,Corriere de la Sera, The WorldPost, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and others.

Lévy gained renown for his documentary film about the Bosnian conflict, Bosna! (1994). After starting his career as a war reporter for Combat — the legendary newspaper founded by Albert Camus during the Nazi occupation of France — Lévy founded the New Philosophers group. His 1977 book Barbarism with a Human Face launched an unprecedented controversy over the European left’s complicity with totalitarianism. Lévy’s cultural commentary, novels and journalism have continued to stir up such excitement that The Guardian noted he is “accorded the kind of adulation in France that most countries reserve for their rock stars.”

Lévy has undertaken several diplomatic missions for the French government. He was appointed by French President Jacques Chirac to head a fact-finding mission to Afghanistan in 2002 in the wake of the war against the Taliban, a war that Lévy supported. He has traveled to the world’s most troubled areas. He followed the trail of Daniel Pearl in Pakistan to research his bookWho Killed Daniel Pearl? (2003). A subsequent book, War, Evil, and the End of History (2004), took him to the sites of what he calls the world's forgotten wars, from Colombia to Sri Lanka, and from Burundi to Nuba Mountains. His reportage and commentary from Israel during the 2006 Lebanon war appeared to wide acclaim, in among others, the New York Times Magazine. And, after an extensive, clandestine visit to Darfur in 2007, he reported on the ethnic cleansing and genocide there for Le Monde and The Financial Times. His first-hand account of the fall of Moammar Gaddafi in Libya appeared in the form of a writer’s journal (La Guerre sans l’aimer, 2012) and a documentary film (The Oath of Tobruk, which debuted at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival).

In June 2016, he released a new documentary, Peshmerga . This "war movie" (Official Selection at Cannes Film Festival 2016) was filmed, from early July to late November 2015, along the 1000 kilometer of frontline separating the Iraqi Kurds from the Islamic State. It premiered at the New York Jewish Film Festival in January 2017. Lévy's latest film, The Battle of Mosul, premiered in Europe in March 2017.

Speech Topics

What is the true impact of globalization? Is it really an unhappy process? According to Lévy, there is no better choice than the path of globalization and this should be embraced, rather than disputed. Globalization offers access to prosperity, education and, at the end of the day, democracy. And, those advocating for the contrary oppose the values of the Enlightenment. Lévy passionately shares how globalization throughout history has led to the advancement of civilization and will continue to bring both societal and economic progress if kindled.

Capital, or money, is the greatest tool that civilization ever invented. With comprehensive philosophical and historical analysis, Lévy demonstrates, that, in essence, money equals mobility, liberty and is at the heart of democracy. It can help shape human desire in positive ways, right certain transgressions and has an ethical value far greater than we often see. When used as a means and not an end, money is to be praised as it can be a noble tool to foster good for mankind.

Lévy provides a new general theory on the current rise of anti-Semitism in which there are three pillars: anti-Zionism, Holocaust denial and the competition of victimhood. Each pillar tugs at present-day sensibilities and emotions. Lévy believes that this paradigm is spreading across the United States and can speak to this plague on both sides of the Atlantic. He also addresses the Boycott Divest Sanction (BDS) movement that is a global campaign attempting to increase economic and political pressure on Israel. Lévy aptly demonstrates that BDS is in fact rooted in the European anti-Semitism of the 20th century. In a logical and mathematical fashion, he provides fresh and inedited information on the Nazi background of this movement and proves that it is an alarming and growing global phenomenon. Additionally, Lévy offers a passionate defense of Israel from the liberal side and makes his case demonstrating the virtues of Israel’s extraordinary democracy. A strong multiethnic society that embraces immigrants from all over the world, Israel serves as a model of integration and openness.

What is populism? How can it be empirically and theoretically decrypted? Why is it completely different from the sovereignty of people, in other words, democracy? What makes populism different and close to the Fascist movements of the 1930s? Why are these movements in such favor around the world today? What is real bridge between Putin and Trump? On all these questions, Lévy has unique insight. He brings historical philosophical analysis from thinkers like Machiavelli, Alexis de Tocqueville, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, as well his on the ground experience, to paint an original picture of today’s global political climate.

From Lévy’s international best-seller, “Who Killed Daniel Pearl?” to his recent documentary, “The Battle of Mosul”, the philosopher has first-hand experience with many jihadi groups from the exact places where they grow and expand. He has supported and followed enlightened Muslims, such as the Kurds, who are on the frontlines combatting the fascism of our time: jihadism. Lévy explains that the only clash of civilizations today exists within Islam: a democratic versus fundamental Islam.


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