Trending Topics:

Obama ‘betrayed’ American Jews and Trump is a ‘swineherd’ — Bernard-Henri Levy

on 92 Comments

The French intellectual Bernard-Henry Levy has a new book out called The Genius of Judaism, much of which is a defense of Israel. He flacked for the country on public radio and in the New York Times this week.

On Thursday on WNYC’s Leonard Lopate show Levy said that anti-Zionism is just the latest disguise for anti-Semitism.

There is a very dangerous and terrible trick today, which is that if one wants to be anti-Semitic, wants to put fuel and gasoline in his anti-Semitic hatred, the best habit for that, the best dressing, the best cosmetic, the best language, is anti-Zionism. If you want to recruit a large crowd of followers for an anti-semitic politic, anti-Zionism which is the hate of Israel as such is the best carburent [?]… You cannot be seriously anti-semitic today, if you are not anti-Zionist.

And the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign aimed at Israel is the embodiment of this new anti-Semitism.

The BDS movement, which is a really nasty movement, is much stronger in the US than in France… which consists in harassing vessels bearing an Israeli flag because they are Israeli. This alas is stronger here.

When do WNYC and Leonard Lopate ever air defenders of BDS?

Levy said he was a Maoist as a young man but fell in love with Israel during the Six Day War. Notice the exceptionalism:

I was as far from Judaism as one could be and nevertheless I felt compelled to take a plane and go to Israel…. It was a force stronger than myself, it was something that did not match with all my creeds of this time… I tried to enlist myself in IDF in order to fight, in order to defend this little nation fighting against a lot of people coalesced against it.

I was more than affected. I was completely struck. My discovery of Israel was really like a thunderstorm… in my life. Not for religious reasons… Not for nationalistic reasons…. Maybe for political reasons… an exemplary democracy, a great democracy…. If there is a place where multi-ethnicity works, it is in Israel… This question of multi-ethnicity on which we French break our teeth and you Americans broke your teeth also, it is not bad… in Israel.

Levy also described the Jewish religion as exceptional. He said on WNYC that “at the end of the day what makes the difference between Judaism and the other religions” is the Talmud. Because the Talmud allows Jews “to unfold the wings of the spirit,” and “this is the… genius of Judaism.”

Also on January 19, Levy published an essay called “Jews, Be Wary of Trump,” in the New York Times, which begins by saying that President Obama betrayed Israel and American Jews by allowing the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution condemning settlements.

A few weeks back, both Israel and American Jews were betrayed by Barack Obama.

Donald Johnson notes, “Most of the comments I read ripped this piece to shreds.  It is a remarkably stupid piece. Look at the swineherd parable. I had never heard of it.”

The swineherd parable is a story from the Talmud that Levy uses to explain Donald Trump’s relationship to American Jews:

Rabbi Yehudah Nessia, one of the foremost figures of Jewish thought of the third century, … ran a school that a young Roman swineherd would pass by nearly every day. The students at the school, their heads full of knowledge and a sense of their own superiority, never missed a chance to mock and beat the pig farmer.

Years later, Rabbi Yehudah was summoned to the distant city of Caesarea Philippi, to appear before Roman Emperor Diocletian. It seemed that the emperor was full of consideration for his guest. He sent to him one of his most distinguished ambassadors and ordered that a sumptuous bath be provided to allow his guest to cleanse himself after his dusty voyage.


But Diocletian also sent his ambassador on a Friday, so that Rabbi Yehudah would be forced to travel on the Sabbath, violating the most important of commandments.

The emperor also heated the baths to such a degree that the rabbi would have been boiled to death — a fate from which the rabbi was saved by the last-minute intervention of an angel, who cooled the waters.

When the rabbi appeared before Diocletian, he recognized the former swineherd, who said to him with spite, “Just because your god performs miracles, you think you can scorn the emperor?”

I cite this story because it provides a good metaphor for the West today, where, as in ancient Rome, the triumph of nihilism can enable a pig farmer — anybody — to become emperor.

It is a good example, too, of Jewish wisdom, which responds to the situation as follows: “We had contempt for Diocletian the swineherd, but we are ready to honor Diocletian the emperor provided he, like Saul — who, before becoming king had tended donkeys — heeds the prophecy, rises to his office, and becomes a new man.”

And, above all, it is a good allegory of the double-edged favors, or, if you will, the poison apples, proffered by a humiliated swineherd, eager for revenge, who [as Trump did] decides to show Jon Stewart and his fellow Jews that he is indeed smarter than they are.

In the face of this situation, nothing is more important, it seems to me, than to maintain a measure of distance…

In this period that has been labeled, for lack of a better word, populist… in this new political culture that has now encircled the earth, one in which, from the American plutocrats to their Russian oligarch cousins, the swineherds slap their pedigree shamelessly on imperial palaces, the little Jewish nation has no part to play.

To ally with that sort of “populism” would be to betray Israel’s calling.

To surrender to Diocletian would be to betray oneself and to take the terrible risk of no longer being who one is.

Donald Johnson says, “I would have thought the point was that the students were arrogant and cruel to a humble man and this later bit their rabbi in the ass.  The Bible itself has stories along those moral lines.  I think there are even one or two in Greek mythology. BHL’s reading of the moral is  ugly and ethnocentric. For all I know maybe that is the intended point, but it seemed more like the usual one where you should be kind to humble people or God will punish you later.” I’d only add that Levy’s characterization of Jews as people whose heads are “full of knowledge and a sense of their own superiority” is, unh, highly problematic.


Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

Other posts by .

Posted In:

92 Responses

  1. John O on January 21, 2017, 2:10 pm

    Love the photo. “Where ees ma medallion? Eet was rahnd ma neck jhust now when Aa was doing ma Neil Diamond impersonation.”

    • xanadou on January 22, 2017, 4:28 pm

      John O: times are so bad that I have almost forgotten how to laugh. Your input keeps me laughing every time I think about yr comment. Thanks.

      The “philosopher/intellectual” (which is just as deep as saying that butter is buttery), i.e., the silly aging Lothario ignoramus sounds like someone who has probably realised that his time has come and gone together with his philosophising intellectuality. Could it be that he has grasped that Baruch Spinoza he ain’t?

      Oh, and the intellectuallist’s: “I cite this story (about Aurelius) because it provides a good metaphor for the West today, where, as in ancient Rome, the triumph of nihilism can enable a pig farmer — anybody — to become emperor.”

      I’ll take Rome’s exercise in nihilism any time: art, architecture, aqueducts, roads, public welfare and healthcare systems, sewage systems, agriculture, calendar, religious tolerance, law (a person is innocent until proven guilty), collection centres for abandoned infants, etc., over the next to nothing, especially of consequence, found by archeologists in today’s israel, and expected to relate to israel, the nebulous myth.

      Sic transit gloria mundi. N’est-ce pas? It must be hard to register that Oblivion is his destiny.

      • RoHa on January 23, 2017, 9:09 pm

        Benedict Spinoza.

  2. amigo on January 21, 2017, 2:13 pm

    So , telling the truth is antisemitic.

    Opposing human rights abuses is antisemitic.

    Opposing Apartheid is antisemitic .

    Opposing land theft is antisemitic.

    Opposing the perpetration of war crimes is antisemitic.

    Opposing ethnic cleansing is antisemitic.

    Ok , Mr Bernard Levy.

    Btw , does this guy live in Israel ??.

    • Paldi5 on January 23, 2017, 10:38 am

      Well, I’m waiting for Mr. Trump to wake up to which side of the fence (wall) he is currently on, and jump to the other side of it. Kushner may not like it, but Ivanka will side with her dad.

    • Theo on January 23, 2017, 12:16 pm

      No, he lives in France, where he enjoys free speech, what the native palestinians do not have, safety and an unearned glory. He would never emigrate to that wonderful jewish state he so much praises.

    • gailc120 on February 23, 2017, 4:25 am

      Once Netenyahu uttered the words, “The Jewish State of Israel”, he thought he was off the hook. If anyone criticizes the policies of his government, he can cry “Anti-Semitic”. Well, regardless of what this author said about the “evil” BDS movement and Zionism, I can say I am not against Jews but I AM against a movement called Zionism. One is a religious group and the other is a political movement. One is thousands of years old, the other has been with us since the late 1800’s. I object to my tax money being used to aid a country that blatantly discriminates against non-Jews and against Arabs. One that refuses to give back the land they stole and refuses to treat Palestinians with anything but contempt. That is simply being a decent member of the human race.

  3. Kay24 on January 21, 2017, 3:19 pm

    Of course the superiority comes through, none better than us, we are entitled….

    No mention that those very same people are occupying and stealing.

  4. Sulphurdunn on January 21, 2017, 3:29 pm

    The guy needs to button his shirt. So, it’s downright righteous to torment the swineherd but not OK for him to return the favor? Livy’s interpretation of the swineherd parable is sad apologia for a “suck up kick down” morality that even dispenses with the pretense of nobles oblique. Treating others the way you want to be treated is the moral genius of all enlightened people. Group entitlement conferred by religion, race, ethnicity or class to rationalize abuse of the weak always leads to disaster and is a manifestation of hubris, not genius.

    • Citizen on January 21, 2017, 5:29 pm

      The Talmud, as a source for spiritual inspiration? Depends on which class of soul one is assigned therein? If I were Jewish, I’d be more inspired by Hillel the Elder tradition in Judaism. but that’s just me.

      • David44 on January 22, 2017, 11:23 am

        Um – you are aware, aren’t you, that the primary source we have for the tradition of Hillel the Elder is the Talmud? The Talmud incorporates that tradition as part of its dialectic: it makes no sense at all to separate them out, as if “the Talmud” somehow has a unitary meaning which is separate from the words of the rabbis incorporated within it.

      • Mooser on January 22, 2017, 12:12 pm

        “The Talmud incorporates that tradition as part of its dialectic”

        Uh-oh. Here we go with that Jews-and-Bolshevism thing.

      • Citizen on January 22, 2017, 1:27 pm

        I think the ethics in the Talmud are ethnocentric, except for Hillel’s POV.

      • MHughes976 on January 22, 2017, 1:39 pm

        Rabbi Hanan Balk of Cincinnati has an essay on ‘The Jewish and the non-Jewish Soul’ (?2016) arguing that the idea that they are of distinct kinds is really post-Talmudic – and (I would think) rather disconcertingly dependent on non-Jewish (Neoplatonist) ideas in order to be rather sniffy about non-Jews. Balk mentions Talmudic passages according a share in the Age to Come to non-Jews. Balk at one point uses the phrase ‘the Talmud concludes that…’.
        I haven’t got a thousandth of Balk’s Talmudic learning but I had thought that the idea of a Talmudic ‘conclusion’ is to be avoided, since the T is a record of civilised debates among rather lovable rabbis, contrasting and meant to contrast sharply with what contemporaries would have seen as the increasingly ferocious temper of the Christian bishops and their dogmatic pronouncements. The figure of Hillel is a character in the spiritual drama, standing for the most reasonable and gentle – though at the same time elliptical, puzzling and mysterious – interpretations of the Law. In my ignorant opinion he represents the spirit of the Talmud a little more than anyone else, though he is really a fictional character.

      • Mooser on January 22, 2017, 3:58 pm

        Well, I’d rather go to Hillel in a handbasket than find out what made Shammai run. That’s what I always say.

      • RoHa on January 22, 2017, 6:19 pm

        Rabbis are always loveable, full of gentle wisdom, love for all humanity, and wry humour. Ask Mooser. I’m sure he’ll agree.

      • Mooser on January 22, 2017, 11:50 pm

        “Rabbis are always loveable, full of gentle wisdom, love for all humanity, and wry humour. Ask Mooser. I’m sure he’ll agree”

        Well, I can only go by the Rabbis I’ve known, and frankly, I wouldn’t know any other kind.
        Wow, you shook loose an old, old memory, that’s right, when I got B.M.’ed the presiding Rabbi was (or so I was told) a cousin on my Mom’s side of the family.
        And to let me pass, considering my haftorah performance, he would have had to have been, wise, loving and full of wry humor. Or generously bribed.

  5. lonely rico on January 21, 2017, 5:01 pm

    I was completely struck

    Make that completely dumbstruck Bernard-Henri.

    And he never recovered.

  6. Citizen on January 21, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Interesting this “philosopher” faults Obama and Trump for not “turning the other cheek.” Not very Christian of them, eh? I don’t remember Jesus being arrogant, feeing superior, to or beating up on any poor swineherd, do you?

  7. pabelmont on January 21, 2017, 7:19 pm

    “the students were arrogant and cruel to a humble man”

    Gosh, sure sounds like the settlers today (including “students” and not a few rabbis). Giving stupid youth a sense of unearned entitlement (As Trump — as a kid — may have had) ought to be one of the deadly sins. Haven;t we heard from some rabbi: even a gay Jew is superior to a non-Jew! (hah, two birds with one stone).

  8. JLewisDickerson on January 21, 2017, 7:43 pm

    BHL played a significant role in creating the debacle that is today’s Libya (now a failed state). I no longer take him seriously.

    • jd65 on January 21, 2017, 10:04 pm

      Agreed, JLewis. Taking BHL seriously (on Palestine/Israel/Zionism, anyway…) is mainly a waste of time and energy. While he may have some intelligence in some areas/capacities, I believe he is, in many ways, an idiot. Or if not an idiot, a major jerk. From my review of Salaita’s Uncivil Rites:

      Lastly on the issue of false accusations of anti-Semitism, Salaita quotes “philosopher/intellectual” Bernard-Henri Levy’s assertion that the central belief of anti-Zionists is that, “Jews are detestable because they are inseparable from a detestable state” (131). This infers that Salaita thinks all Jews are “inseparable from Israel.” This is not the case. The reality is actually the exact opposite of Levy’s theory. Anti-Zionists work against the notion that all Jews are inseparable from the State of Israel. And it is, in fact, Israel itself which works toward irrevocably attaching all Jews to itself.

      • oldgeezer on January 21, 2017, 11:18 pm

        Well said. Maybe I am a bad bad man but I consider individuals who identify as Jewish to be no more or less equal to anyone who identifies with any other religion or no religion. That said an individual who supports Israel or even Saudi Arabia (a not all inclusive list) is morally bankrupt as those states are morally bankrupt and are both rogue states and human rights abusers.

        It is the zionists who equate Jews with Israel. Not me. It is not a state comprised of solely Jews and it’s supporters are not solely Jewish. Just thugs who disregard the equality of mankind. Maybe one of the zionists can remind me who claims to speak for all Jews and which state claims to be the state for all Jews.

        Hophead can whine all he wants but he is whining from the bottom of the gutter. jackdoh is merely ignorant and racist to the core. Their sole contribution to mankind is to help define the lower level(s) of humanity. Examples of how low humans can sink.

      • Citizen on January 22, 2017, 1:55 pm

        I am guessing U R a goy, like me, & I am also an old geezer; I agree with your take.

      • oldgeezer on January 22, 2017, 5:40 pm


        You guessed right. Now if only we could turn your talents to lottery numbers haha :)

  9. HarryLaw on January 21, 2017, 7:56 pm

    Levy gets a pie in the face again, well deserved.

    • John Douglas on January 22, 2017, 4:53 pm

      I honestly cannot think of one person in all the world, all the galaxies, that is more suited for a pie-the-face than he is. And to watch that guy run from the deadly threat of whipped cream, yelling “Oh no!!” In these dark times it raised my mood.

  10. John Douglas on January 21, 2017, 8:50 pm

    Bernard-Henri Levy is auditioning for Eli Wiesel’s. Want to know what you as a Jewish person is supposed to think? Ask B-H. I cringe when I read him referred to as a philosopher, the self-promoting faker. Bring me Camus or Russell or Dewey. Bring me Peter Singer, not this hollow, craven fashion plate who never saw a mike he didn’t seek out to fill with the most banal rubbish.

  11. Citizen on January 21, 2017, 9:24 pm
  12. wondering jew on January 22, 2017, 1:51 am

    Because BHL raises the topic of the six day war.
    I found in my notes (I think from avi shlaim), that the turmoil that preceded and caused the war had more to do with inter Arab rivalry (nasser versus syria. Syria versus jordan. Nasser versus king hussein) than it had to do with the Israel Arab enmity.

    • marc b. on January 22, 2017, 11:11 am

      Yes, your notes. Which are proof of what exactly?

      American and Israeli intelligence all agreed that Egypt was not prepared nor intended to attack Israel, and Israelis have admitted it was a war of choice. The war was a ‘do over’ since Israel regretted not taking the West Bank in ’48. So spare us your propagandizing musings.

      You got kicked around and made a fool of a few years back on this topic, on this site, but like rain off a metal roof . . .

      • wondering jew on January 22, 2017, 2:29 pm

        You present certain aspects of the war. Presenting a simplified version: do over of 1948 in order to conquer the west bank is as propagandistic as anything I’ve heard.

      • Mooser on January 22, 2017, 3:55 pm

        ” a simplified version”…”as propagandistic as anything I’ve heard”

        You mean like this, “Yonah”?:

        “the war had more to do with inter Arab rivalry (nasser versus syria. Syria versus jordan. Nasser versus king hussein) than it had to do with the Israel Arab enmity.”

      • oldgeezer on January 22, 2017, 4:16 pm


        Do tell yonah. What’s your take.

        Because of rivalry between arabic states Israel was forced to undertake a sneak attack upon them and slaughter people outside of the laws of war?

        Mooser’s ripost is funny but your post is pure comedic genius.

      • marc b. on January 22, 2017, 5:47 pm

        “There were matters that had remained as if they were a cause of mourning for generations to come . . . . Generations have not yet passed and all these matters have been repaired. All the defects have been repaired,” Eshkol stated in the first cabinet session after the ceasefire, on 11 June. He was referring to an expression coined by his predecessor and now political foe David Ben-Gurion, who had defined the government’s September 1948 rejection of his proposal for the capture of the West Bank as a cause of “lamentation for generations to come.” The euphoric mood, which replaced the fear and the somber atmosphere that had prevailed in Israel since mid-May, was summed up best by Dayan, who announced at the Air Force’s victory ball: “we are now an empire.”

        The Bride and the Dowry, Avi Raz

      • wondering jew on January 22, 2017, 11:39 pm

        I suppose raising the issue of the cause of the 67 war was bound to attract negative reactions.
        The point that I was raising was not the immediate cause of the war (meaning in this case: who shot first) nor the underlying cause of the war (as in the 48 war and its effects on the region), but the intermediate causes of the war. Nasser did what he did (mobilizing forces, asking the UNEF to leave and declaring aggressive intents regarding the Strait of Tiran) based on two factors: russian, aka Soviet misinformation, and inter Arab tensions. Avi shlaim, not a propagandist, stated that the cause of the war was the inter Arab rivalries. That is what caused the escalation that triggered (rather than started) the war.
        Eshkol did everything in his power to avoid the war. Unfortunately, mobilizing the reserves (prematurely) put Israel in a tenuous position and decreased the flexibility he might have had to avoid the pressure of his generals to go to war. Also his disastrous address to the israeli public made the public feel less secure rather than moreso and that address forced him to acquiesce to the generals’ demand that he appoint Dayan as defense minister. Once that appointment was done in the aftermath of the Jordan egypt rapprochement, the die was cast.

        Whatever speeches he made after the victory are relevant regarding the underlying tensions and the attempt to ballyhoo his or the nation’s accomplishments, but are an inaccurate indication of the cause of the war.

      • wondering jew on January 23, 2017, 2:13 am

        Let me add to the proximate causes the israeli attack on es Samu on west bank, then controlled by jordan in nov. 66. when rabin went to visit Ben Gurion in sde boker before the war BG had two criticisms, the mobilization of reserves and the attack on samu. Israeli oblivious ness re: the inter Arab rivalry (enmity) meant that in the name of deterrence they stirred the pot that brought on the war.

      • RoHa on January 23, 2017, 7:07 pm

        Yonah, I notice that you make no mention of Israel’s continual encroachment on the Golan Heights, used by Israel as a means of keeping tensions with Syria at a high level.

      • wondering jew on January 23, 2017, 8:19 pm

        Roha- You’re right. I skipped the Syrian Israeli tension. (not on the Golan Heights, but on the armistice line, no man’s land). Sorry about that. The es Samu incident occurred in november 66 and the clashes with syria were before that.

    • Mooser on January 22, 2017, 12:02 pm

      “I found in my notes…”

      Which you keep in Einstein’s discarded snail shells.

      • Mooser on January 22, 2017, 3:56 pm

        And there he kept them, very well.

    • Misterioso on January 23, 2017, 10:49 am

      The June 1967 War:

      At 7:45 AM on 5 June 1967, Israel attacked Egypt and thereby, Jordan and Syria who each shared a mutual defense pact with Egypt. The attack took place just hours before Egypt’s VP Mohieddine was to fly to Washington for a prearranged June 7th meeting with the Johnson administration to defuse the crisis between Egypt and Israel based on an agreement worked out in Cairo between Nasser and Johnson’s envoy, Robert Anderson. In a cable sent to Johnson on May 30, Israel’s PM Eshkol promised not to attack Egypt until June 11 to give diplomacy a chance to succeed. However, on June 4, when it heard about the June 7th meeting and the distinct possibility that it would rule out war, Israel’s cabinet ordered its armed forces to attack Egypt the next day. In short, the war was another massive land grab by Israel.

      Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Minister without portfolio in Eshkol’s cabinet, while addressing Israel’s National Defence College on 8 August 1982: “In June, 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai did not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.” (New York Times, 21 August 1982)

      Meir Amit, chief of Israel’s Mossad: “Egypt was not ready for a war and Nasser did not want a war.” (Dr. Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality, pp. 134-5)

      Israeli Chief of Staff Rabin: “I do not believe that Nasser wanted war. The two divisions which he sent into Sinai on 14 May would not have been enough to unleash an offensive against Israel. He knew it and we knew it.” (Le Monde, 25 February, 1968)

      Prime Minister Eshkol: “The Egyptian layout in the Sinai and the general military buildup there testified to a military defensive Egyptian set-up south of Israel.” (Yediot Aharonot, l8 October 1967)

      Robert McNamara, U.S. Secretary of Defence: “Three separate intelligence groups had looked carefully into the matter [and] it was our best judgment that a UAR attack was not imminent.” (The Vantage Point, Lyndon Johnson, p. 293)

      An article published in the New York Times (4 June 1967) just hours before Israel attacked notes that Major General Indar Jit Rikhye, Commander of UNEF in the Middle East, “who toured the Egyptian front, confirms that Egyptian troops were not poised for an offensive.” (Dr. Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality, p. 134)

      On May 26, in reply to Eban’s assertion that according to Israeli intelligence, “an Egyptian and Syrian attack is imminent,” Secretary of State Dean Rusk dismissed the claim and assured Eban that Israel faced no threat of attack from Egypt. On the same day, during a meeting at the Pentagon, Eban was also told by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and his aides that “…Egyptian forces were not in an aggressive posture and that Israel was not opening itself to peril by not attacking immediately. The contrary was true, Eban was told.” (Donald Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem, pp. 140-41)

      BTW, as the UN Emergency Force (UNEF)Commander, Major General Idar Jit Rikhye, revealed, Nasser was not enforcing the blockade of the Tiran straits: “[The Egyptian] navy had searched a couple of ships after the establishment of the blockade and thereafter relaxed its implementation.”

      • wondering jew on January 23, 2017, 2:30 pm

        Mysterioso: the June 11th commitment by eshkol is news to me. Quick Google found it unsourced. Do you have a source?

      • marc b. on January 23, 2017, 2:39 pm

        thanks for doing the heavy lifting. i did not assume anything you or i wrote would have an impact on persons unnamed. there is no objective controversy as to the underlying causes and motivations of the parties, and contrary to what some have said, Eshkol’s and others post-war comments about rectifying a prior mistake do constitute evidence of intent. (there have been recent document releases from the CIA calling into question the narrative about the ’73 war as well.)

      • talknic on January 23, 2017, 6:06 pm

        1967 and 1966

        Resolution 228 (1966)
        of 25 November 1966

        The Security Council,

        Having heard the statements of the representatives of Jordan and Israel concerning the grave Israel military action which took place in the southern Hebron area on 13 November 1966,

        Having noted the information provided by the Secretary-General concerning this military action in his statement of 16 November 1/ and also in his report of 18 November 1966,2/

        Observing that this incident constituted a large-scale and carefully planned military action on the territory of Jordan by the armed forces of Israel

      • annie on January 23, 2017, 7:30 pm

        PM Eshkol lied

        here’s hostage:

        Initially there was the story put forth by Israel, and widely believed by all, that Israel was suddenly attacked by Arab states.

        Yes, nowadays the verbatim record of the false account is available online from the UN archives:

        4. At 3.10 this morning, the Permanent Representative of
        Israel to the United Nations informed me officially, in my
        capacity as President of the Security Council, as follows:
        “1 have just received reports that Egyptian land and air
        forces have moved against Israel and Israel forces are now
        engaged in repelling the Egyptian forces.”
        5. The Israel Permanent Representative told me that he
        wished to make an urgent communication about this to the
        Security Council when it was convened. He then read the
        following communiqud from the Israel Defense Forces:
        “Since the early hours of this morning fierce fighting
        has broken out between Egyptian air and armoured
        forces, which moved against Israel, and our forces, which
        went into action to contain them.”

        — S/PV.1347 5 June 1967

        Within a matter of days Prime Minister Eshkol was forced to admit during debates in the Knesset that it was all a lie, but by then the story had already taken root in the public’s imagination.

      • Misterioso on January 23, 2017, 8:19 pm


        “Misterioso: the June 11th commitment by eshkol is news to me. Quick Google found it unsourced. Do you have a source?”

        Source: Lyndon Johnson, The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency 1963-1969, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971.

        To quote President Johnson: “As my advisers and I interpreted it, [the content of Eshkol’s May 30th cable] meant that we had about two weeks to make diplomacy succeed before Israel took independent military action. This judgment was strengthened by information from other diplomatic sources.”

      • wondering jew on January 24, 2017, 1:55 pm

        The timing of that telegram from eshkol to lbj, was it the same day as the Jordan nasser abdication/rapprochement. When eshkol widened his cabinet and took dayan aboard on June 1st it was game over. As of that moment eshkol became a figurehead and dayan became the decisive voice.

      • marc b. on January 24, 2017, 3:34 pm

        annie linked to one, but there are several good posts and supporting comments on the 6-Day war on this site.

        eshkol lied about who fired the opening salvo, and he also confided prior to the start of the war that he intended to take Jerusalem ‘back’, confirming the double lie of the war: its cause and Israeli goals.

    • Theo on January 24, 2017, 11:49 am

      Remember our intelligence ship SS Liberty, in international waters, attacked by israeli warplanes and speedboats, killing 74 US sailors and wounding around 170!
      Because they monitored the israeli plans to attack Egypt without warning, never mind declaration of war. The IDF tried to sink the ship to destroy any evidence of their treacherous plans and the even more treacherous Johnson and admiral McCain made sure no help came to them and all secrets were buried in deepest vaults.
      74 young americans had to die, who cares!

      • wondering jew on January 24, 2017, 1:49 pm

        Certainly the attack on the uss liberty is a black stain against israel.
        (1 American soldier killed would be too many but the number on Wikipedia is 34 not 74.)

  13. Maghlawatan on January 22, 2017, 5:24 am

    BHL reminds me of Mort Zuckerman

    And the Talmud may open the spirit but not in Eretz Israel Hashlemah where kids have to become soldiers for the settlers

    • Mooser on January 22, 2017, 12:07 pm

      “And the Talmud may open the spirit…”

      Yeah. Just like LSD!

  14. Peter in SF on January 22, 2017, 6:03 am

    This week, BHL was also on KQED Forum hosted by Michael Krasny, the San Francisco equivalent of Lopate. He made the same points as above. He said that anyone who supports BDS against Israel is required to support BDS against other countries such as Syria. He also insisted that all citizens of Israel have equal rights under the law, regardless of whether or not they are legally Jewish. If he really believed this, he would have brought up strong objections he’s heard to the claim and explained why they lack merit, but he didn’t do this, because he is counting on his audience not having heard these objections before.

    You can tell when a BDS opponent is being dishonest if they don’t tell you the 3 explicitly stated goals of the movement and whether or not they support those goals. BHL here was no exception.

    • Atlantaiconoclast on January 23, 2017, 10:45 am

      The reason why BDS is appropriate for Israel but not for Syria, is that Israel is dominated by one ethnic group, who has seriously oppressed an out group and consistently refused to toss out its supremacist leaders. You can’t say the same about Syria. The Alawites of Syria do not experience anywhere near the privilege Jews do in Israel, and even the occupied territories. So called democracies are always much better candidates for sanctions, cause the people of supposed autocracies have no say in their govt’s policies. I don’t think the hostility toward the Assad regime is even justified, but, even if it was, the people of Syria would not deserve sanctions, if they really had no voice in their govt. like the people of Israel do.

    • eljay on January 23, 2017, 1:03 pm

      || Peter in SF: This week, BHL … said that anyone who supports BDS against Israel is required to support BDS against other countries such as Syria. … ||

      A quick google indicates that BHL supported military intervention in Libya and Syria. According to his “logic”, he should also support military intervention in Israel. Does he, or is he just another Zionist hypocrite in a seemingly endless line of Zionist hypocrites?

  15. Eva Smagacz on January 22, 2017, 7:18 am

    Poor misunderstood, victimised Rabbi Yehudah (/sarcasm alert).
    Surely, allowing his pupils to mistreat a non-Jew was never, ever, a good enough reason to be in turn mistreated by a non-Jew, who, on top of having a good memory, had a chutzpah to raise above his station.
    Outrage!! Total outrage!!

    • Citizen on January 22, 2017, 2:01 pm

      Looking at that story in the Talmud, and how Levy interpreted it, I can understand the history of the Jews within world history (as distinguished from world history written by Jewish historians, or Jewish history written by Jewish historians).

      • JWalters on January 23, 2017, 9:27 pm

        An arrogant attitude of superiority toward one’s neighbors inevitably causes conflict?

  16. Boomer on January 22, 2017, 11:04 am

    This notion that “President Obama betrayed Israel and American Jews by allowing the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution condemning settlements” may be “remarkable stupid” but it is also remarkably common. More than that, it seems to be generally accepted as true among people who ought to know better. For example, a reporter for public radio recently seemed surprised to learn that other U.S. Presidents had allowed many such resolutions to pass:

    Aggressive, brazen, repeated lies seem to work well these days.

  17. AddictionMyth on January 22, 2017, 11:17 am

    Considering that Trump is pro-Zionist (even if he’s anti-Semitic), this is all just too ironic and funny. Israel will be forced into one-state, and Israel will be fine. Just like South Africa. Not perfect. But fine.

    • zaid on January 22, 2017, 12:01 pm

      Bernard Levy!

      Have this guy ever been right about anything.

    • catalan on January 22, 2017, 12:14 pm

      Israel will be forced into one-state, and Israel will be fine. Just like South Africa. Not perfect. But fine. – addictionmyth
      I too share your cautious optimism. I think that sometime in the future things there will turn out alright. Usually both dire predictions and exuberant optimism prove misplaced. Your voice is a very sane one here.

      • MHughes976 on January 22, 2017, 3:08 pm

        What will the force be that overcomes Israeli reluctance? The human rights based claims and arguments that we know so well, mediated by international opinion?

      • Mooser on January 22, 2017, 4:08 pm

        “What will the force be that overcomes Israeli reluctance?”

        A severe and extensive diminution of Zionist power and resources will do the trick.

        (Just between you ‘n me, “MHughes”, we don’t even really want the place. When things don’t go Israel’s way, we will abandon it like an out-of-fashion summer resort)

    • amigo on January 22, 2017, 5:40 pm

      Israel needs no external force to be a one state.It is by it,s own actions there already.As soon as the usual suspects cut off the life support system from the brain dead 2SS , we can all get on with a UNSCR welcoming the New Bi National State of , “???????? ” into the family of nations.

      One thing for sure , when that happens , zionists / hasbarists will still be claiming that God , AKA Donald J Trump gave Israel to them and goys have no right to take it away and the world is inhabited by 7 billion antisemites, out to kill all Jews.

      It,s gonna be fun , for those privileged enough to be around to live in a world without Zionism.

      • Mooser on January 23, 2017, 12:36 am

        “Israel needs no external force to be a one state”

        Well, I take your point, but it does. It requires tremendous amounts of private money from Zionist supporting organizations and individuals to support criminal activities, and lots of US support for the Israeli military. Without that Israel would be a no-state or at best, would acquire its realistic dimensions.

      • echinococcus on January 23, 2017, 5:52 am


        What are the signs if any, that suggest that a “New Bi National State of , “???????? ”” will be any different than the current partition-cum-Zionist-entity disaster? It seems that the colonial powers are still firmly in the saddle, and the US and their its puppets are fully committed to the Zionists. So what kind of bi-national state do you get under these auspices? UN resolutions may be positive only when registering accomplished events.

        As long as the Zionist entity is not totally dismantled, instead of “a world without Zionism”, any uni-, bi-, tri-national or multistate will mean the creation of yet another machine to occupy, rob and exterminate the owners of the country.

      • amigo on January 23, 2017, 10:01 am

        “As long as the Zionist entity is not totally dismantled, instead of “a world without Zionism”, Echie

        A world without Zionism v Zionist entity totally dismantled —-I see no light between those two statements.

      • amigo on January 23, 2017, 10:23 am

        “Well, I take your point, but it does. It requires tremendous amounts of private money from Zionist supporting organizations and individuals to support criminal activities, and lots of US support for the Israeli military. “Mooser

        Mooser , I don,t think Sheldon Adelson/Haim Saban /Kushner/ et al Israel firsters would appreciate being referred to as external forces when it comes to the zionist entity.Not to mention the congress critters who willingly sold their souls and dignity in the service of Israel.

        Besides , Israel is firmly opposed to any and all external interference in their internal affairs.

    • Atlantaiconoclast on January 23, 2017, 10:50 am

      Jesus Christ! How in the world is Trump anti Semitic? Hate Trump all you want, but please stop with the drama queen over the top accusations.

  18. Ossinev on January 22, 2017, 1:34 pm

    Sighted in yesterdays London Times front page leader on the Trump inauguration speech:
    “In a message to American allies he warned that the US would no longer “subsidise” the armies of other nations”

    I thought OMG ! Is he going to scrap Ziocare as well as Obamacare? Does this mean that the 10 year x 3.8 billion US taxpayer funded Ziobung will be spent on the needs of Americans rather than wealthy foreign states ? Will Adelson and Co have to dig in to their pockets to take up the considerable slack . Will AIPAC have to organise a nation wide mega crowdfunding ?

    Will be watching and waiting.

    Meanwhile the Ziocrap is still spewing out in torrents:

    “The alliance between our states and our nations is not solely based on friendship. It is rooted in our shared values and longstanding commitment to freedom, liberty and democracy – the foundation stones of our societies, Rivlin wrote Trump”. He means freedom , liberty and democracy for the Chosen and not for untermensch Palestinians of course.
    Even the so called”doves” are brainwashed in the Zionosphere and as for the “hawks”=
    “Earlier Sunday, the prime minister told Likud ministers that he was only willing to give Palestinians a “state-minus.”

    WTF is “a state minus” ? Surely whatever it is it must be classed as a precondition ? I thought the Yahoo only did face to face negotiations without preconditions.

    Poor soul he must be feeling the one state heat.

  19. MHughes976 on January 22, 2017, 3:22 pm

    Diocletian was, if I understand the story, impressed by the magical powers which surrounded the Jews – underemphasised by Levi – and therefore offered them privileges and protection. Jewish good sense is contrasted implicitly with Christian behaviour which provoked – there is some truth in that, I think – the persecution for which D is famous. I don’t see much indication that Jews should keep their distance from the powerful. It does suggest both a) that people who gain power will themselves respect power and that an arrangement based on a degree of mutual respect, rather than strident opposition, should usually be offered and b) that one should not insult the humble who may become powerful.. Of these a) seems like a reasonable point of view, b) seems morally inadequate.

    • lysias on January 23, 2017, 8:00 am

      Both Diocletian’s persecution of the Christians and te contrast with his successor Constantine, who made Christianity the state religion, may explain the friendliness towards hum.

    • Donald on January 23, 2017, 5:00 pm

      ” seems morally inadequate.”

      Yeah, if the idea is that one should avoid cruelty solely to avoid God’s punishment ( but it would be okay if we could dodge His wrath)’ then yes, that would be a purely self interested motive. Usually, though, the idea is that you shouldn’t be the sort of person who is cruel– God’s punishment is not there just to provide the incentive but to demonstrate what God thinks of cruel people. In the NT, see the parable of the rich man in hell. In the OT, my favorite is the story that Nathan tells King David about the rich man who steals and sacrifices the poor man’s beloved pet. David is outraged, as he should be, only to find he is the villain. The aftermath– David loses his son — is problematic since the baby pays the price, but the moral is clear. Don’t abuse the powerless.

      I don’t know what the point of the swineherd story is. Levy’s reading is repulsive.

      • RoHa on January 23, 2017, 9:13 pm

        I see two, clear, take-away messages in this story.

        1. It’s OK to beat up Goys if they are powerless, but suck up to those who have power.

        2. Jewish kids are thugs and their teachers are arseholes.

        Or am I missing some subtlety in this great moral tradition?

      • Mooser on January 23, 2017, 10:13 pm

        “Or am I missing some subtlety in this great moral tradition?”

        Just the same one they all miss:

        3. And what did this get us?

      • MHughes976 on January 24, 2017, 11:40 am

        We’re taking about the Jerusalem Talmud, which is much less accessible than its Babylonian counterpart, so I may be getting some things wrong. Does Diocletian really summon Judah ha Nasi to the rather obscure Caesarea Philippi rather than to C Maritima, the capital of Palestine? The appended moral is ‘never insult a Roman, since he might become Emperor’, which is certainly a bit shocking. Obliquely it shows that Jewish inhabitants of the Empire were not particularly downtrodden or servile in their self-image. They do not see any reason to apologise but instead think fit, though it is they who have wronged him, to tell him to become ‘a new man.’. The analogy with Saul, who seems to have suffered moral degeneration when moving from animal husbandry to political power, might be regarded as a bit insulting in its own way, but all this Levi admires.
        Levi seems to think that Diocletian’s advancement was a demonstration mainly of the nihilism of Roman, implicitly of Western, society, though a person who joined the army without a privileged background when his country, for all its faults a great custodian of the arts and sciences, was falling apart and who was one of those who brought back stability and morale, must have had some impressive qualities.
        My suspicion is that Levi is misreading the story’s tone and that the rabbis’ remarks are to be understood as tactful in implicit comparison with Christian manners towards this pagan patriot. How carefully has he read his original? Why is this insulting, boastful man the grandest public intellectual of a whole continent? Maybe Richard Dawkins has the same sort of fame, but at least he knows his Darwin and puts together some reasonable arguments.

  20. Brewer on January 22, 2017, 3:27 pm

    Can never see this clown referred to an an “intellectual” without being reminded of this:
    “France’s best-known philosopher, Bernard-Henri Lévy, has become the butt of intellectual ridicule after copiously quoting a leading authority on Kant who, it transpires, is a modern-day hoax……..
    Mr Lévy, who in France goes simply by his initials BHL, has been doing the media rounds to promote his new work, On War in Philosophy.

    In his book, which has received lavish praise from some quarters, the open-shirted Mr Lévy lays into the philosopher Immanuel Kant as being unhinged and a “fake”. To support his claims, he cites a certain Jean-Baptiste Botul, whom he describes as a post-War authority on Kant.

    But the chorus of approval turned to laughter after a journalist from Le Nouvel Observateur pointed out that Mr Botul does not exist: he is a fictional character created in by a contemporary satirical journalist, Frédéric Pagès.

    Alarm bells should have rung given that Mr Pagès, a journalist with Le Canard Enchaîneé, a satirical weekly, has penned one book under the Botul pseudonym entitled The Sex Life of Immanuel Kant.

    He has even given rise to a school of philosophical thought called Botulism – a play on words with the lethal disease – and has created a theory of “La Metaphysique du Mou” the Metaphysics of the Flabby.

    But Mr Lévy missed the joke, citing Mr Botul from a “series of lectures to the neo-Kantians of Paraguay” he supposedly gave after the war, in which he said that “their hero was an abstract fake, a pure spirit of pure appearance”.

    • WeAreAllMadeOfStars on January 23, 2017, 4:19 am

      In the French speaking part of the world BHL is considered such a joke of an intellectual. But of course, seemingly just like the other side of the Atlantic, MSM doors and columns are wide open for him to spew his crap … Guess why

  21. traintosiberia on January 22, 2017, 7:47 pm

    “There is a law that governs the relations between the Jews and the rest of the world. ” NYT article by Levy following the sentences of betrayal by Obama . Levy is questioning his own answer. Didn;t he just say that there is a law that governs the relation between Jews and the rest? Obama just followed the rules by siding with 14 other “non Jews” at UN . But why bother where polemic in one sentence gets overruled by next polemic . This what Socrates called sophistry .Bernard gets to clam it as philosophy. Again it’s kind of philosophy where miracle intervenes to cure the ills – rescuing him from Maoism . It’s a kind philosophy that builds on scorning any opinion that smells of “insufficient love for people of Israel” whether by Trump or Obama or Hannah Arendt or by emperor swineherd . Is the deep anxiety about an uncertain period shaking him in his foundation ? He doesn’t know who to trust excepting the cursor that points to his self interest .But he is afraid to click .He can’t say about Trump voters with same certainty that he expressed about Libyan rebels ” as a Jew I support the rebels .They have promised to recognize Israel” .
    To him – there is no one time charity . Charity for full acceptance by the divine that is Jewish god has to be year after year month after month and day after day despite hardships despite inability despite potential for self harm – it just has to continue . Obama failed on 2 occasions – Iran deal and UN resolution . Even the Iran deal could be construed as unrelated to earthly interests of the Jewish God to whom the offerings haven’t dwindled a bit .

  22. oneangrycomic on January 23, 2017, 9:21 am

    If a survey were done as to our preference: “Button his shirt” vs. “Button his lips” we could be looking at a tie. Shouldn’t Levy at least have some discernible chest hair to support his fashion statement? Next to Illegal Squatters, perhaps the most repulsive, arrogant creatures on the planet are intellectual French Zionists!

    The latest page from the ZioPlaybook attempts to blurr any difference between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. I’m hoping this desperate tactic accelerates the exposure and downfall of racist Zionism. A wounded animal can be VERY dangerous. But we have an obligation to put it out of its misery! As it thrashes around, biting and clawing at anything that moves, I’m hoping it exhausts itself and expires soon! Perhaps organizations like BDS will give it a decent burial?

  23. catalan on January 23, 2017, 1:04 pm

    “A world without Zionism v Zionist entity totally dismantled —-I see no light between those two statements. ” Amigo
    Either way, it is heartwarming to see that we are at the dawn of a new age, one without Zionism, nationalism, evil, where people will be honest, generous, and kind towards each other. I hope to see it. Sometimes I have moments of doubt, but when I read the confidence in this new era on the White World I get hopeful again. It is encouraging that the end of violence and evil is almost here and my kid’s generation will inhabit a gentler, kinder, and safer world.

    • eljay on January 23, 2017, 1:45 pm

      || catalan: … it is heartwarming to see that we are at the dawn of a new age, one without Zionism, nationalism, evil, where people will be honest, generous, and kind towards each other. I hope to see it. Sometimes I have moments of doubt, but when I read the confidence in this new era on the White World I get hopeful again. It is encouraging that the end of violence and evil is almost here … ||

      The existence of evil is not an invitation to partake of it. Zionists don’t get it or don’t care but, either way, they just want their share.

    • amigo on January 23, 2017, 3:51 pm

      catalan , I look forward to a world in which educated people understand the use of a reply button.

      Perhaps your children will inhabit such a world.

  24. James Canning on January 23, 2017, 1:24 pm

    Bernard-Henri Levy is properly credited with bringing on the ill-considered Anglo-French attack on Gaddafi, creating chaos in Libya and helping to set up the catastrophe in Syria.

    BDS campaign may well be in Israel’s true best interests.

  25. wondering jew on January 23, 2017, 3:03 pm

    No matter Israel’s sin against the Palestinians, the rhetoric of the Arab street in the weeks preceding the war was a bit much. And it was enough to push BHL to get on a plane to israel. I for one do not accept BHL’s explanation that it had no connection to some nationalistic identity that was given to him by his parents, despite themselves. I think jews in France in the 50’s and 60’s who pretended that there was no past they were hiding from, communicated a terror to their children and the message was sent and received despite themselves.

    • wondering jew on January 23, 2017, 3:08 pm

      Because his parents were Algerian my analysis may not be enough. One recalls de gaulle’s distancing himself from israel in the period before the war, and how a maoist mindset might react to de gaulle’s “none of my business” attitude.

      • Mooser on January 23, 2017, 3:59 pm

        “Yonah” give up. Mr. Levy’s problem is not “because his parents were Algerian” or “jews in France in the 50’s and 60’s who pretended”. The simple fact is, BHL suffered from “botchulism”

        “and how a maoist mindset might react”

        Any Maoist worth his salt would immediately take up the cry: “Please, don’t squeeze the Chairman!”

    • RoHa on January 23, 2017, 7:27 pm

      “I think jews in France in the 50’s and 60’s who pretended that there was no past they were hiding from, communicated a terror to their children and the message was sent and received despite themselves. ”

      I think you have, yet again, put a comma after a subject clause.

  26. Misterioso on January 23, 2017, 8:39 pm

    Meanwhile: news/1.698833

    Haaretz – Jan 21, 2016

    “Chinese President Calls for East Jerusalem as Capital of Palestinian State”

    “Xi Jinping addresses Arab League in Cairo before planned visit to Iran, announces millions in aid to Palestinians.”

Leave a Reply