Bernard Henri Levy confided in Happy in Tel Aviv

Bernard Henri Levy confided in Happy in Tel Aviv

Posted on Dec. 01, 2015, at 11:07 am

Bernard Henri Levy will be at the Museum of Tel Aviv tomorrow to read a few pages of his upcoming book “Le Génie du Judaïsme” (The Spirit of Judaism). Today, he confides in Happy in Tel Aviv about his post- November 13th vision and his thoughts about Tel Aviv, the one he likes to call the “multi-ethnic city”.

HAPPY IN TEL AVIV: Hello Bernard Henri Levy! You’ll be in Tel Aviv tomorrow to present your אupcoming book « Le génie du judaïsme ». Tell us briefly what the themes are?

Bernard Henri Levy: It’s the sequel of « Testament de Dieu » (ed. The will of God) a very old book, a book I wrote when I was young but one of the books I care about the most. It’s been 30 years since I wanted to write the sequel. Here it is. The strength of Jews. The beauty of Jews and Judaism. The jewish pride that was found again, but actually, that was never lost sight of. This new book, this Spirit of Judaism, is paradoxically very optimistic. It says why I don’t fear anti-Semites. And Daesh.

After the attacks of November 13th in Paris and the international choc that it provoked, what’s your feeling about the atmosphere in Paris since it happened?

Well, I’m going to surprise you. But I think Paris woke up. We feared that she would be in choc, injured. Actually, not at all. It’s a city that stands up. A city that is angry. It’s also a city where « Paris est une fête » (ed. A Moveable Feast), Hemingway’s book, became a best seller again, within one night. Weird? No, Paris.

Are things different? Did people change their habits since the attacks? If yes, how do you see it? If not, why?

I don’t know. I don’t think so. The love for life seems to me, as I told you, as strong as it was. I don’t feel that restaurants emptied themselves. Neither did the cinemas. Nor the concerts. Actually, I heard, the other day, that the group which was playing, on this tragic night, at the Bataclan, is planning on coming back, as soon as possible, to finish the concert. You’ll see: we will be many, plenty, to come and listen to them.

Israel, that you know quite well and that you’re visiting now, has been facing this situation since a long time. Always ready to face terrorism, do you think that France can or should be inspired by « the Israeli model » as we’ve seen in the French news in the last couple days?

It depends what do you mean by « Israeli model ». When you say that in France, people think of a permanent alert mode, the emergency laid down the law, the unilateral and abrupt suspension of the state of rights. What strikes me, in Israel, it’s the exact opposite. The self-control. The moderation. A country that lives since its birth in a maximum alert mode, but at the same time that never lost sight of the fundamental democratic principles.

Tel Aviv, that you’re visiting right now, shows a concentration of different cultures and stories with roots coming from all over the world. What do you think of this kind of society where the difference of origins is seen as a strength from its inhabitants?

How I feel about that? That Israel, instead of being despised, should be seen as a role model. Europe and the USA are looking for the philosopher’s stone of a working multi ethnic society. Well, this stone, if it exists, exists in Israel. Because it’s there, in Israel that we can fully apply the famous E pluribus unum of Virgile (ed. Out of many, one), the actual motto of the american democracy and that could be the French one too. The multi-ethnic state exists. I met it. But in Tel Aviv, not in Paris or New York.

In Tel Aviv, which is the district that inspires you the most? Do you have some habits there (coffee places, restaurants, stalls…)?

La Cantina, on Rothschild Boulevard. In Yafo, the end of the beach, where Haim Arlozoroff was murdered (ed. Haim Arlozoroff was a Zionist leader of the Yishuv during the British Mandate for Palestine, prior to the establishment of Israel, and head of the Political Department of the Jewish Agency). And the Museum of Tel Aviv where I will be tomorrow to read, a preview of a few pages from my book Le Génie du Judaism that did not come out yet but that already matters a lot to me. See you Wednesday. Free entrance.

Thank you Bernard Henri Levy for your time and have a great trip in the White City.

Bernard Henri Levy is invited at the Museum of Tel Aviv on December 2nd at 8.30PM. Free entrance.


© Photo : JF Paga

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