Illumination from an intellect

Bernard-Henri Lévy will speak at JCA’s annual fundraising event in Sydney on May 26.

IF ever the time was right to listen to what Bernard-Henri Lévy has to say, it would be now.

Considered by many, including the Boston Globe, as “perhaps the most prominent intellectual in France today”, Lévy is sounding the alarm about a level of antisemitism never experienced before by the majority of Jews alive today.

“Antisemitism is back. Everywhere. Openly,” Lévy recently observed, referencing events of last year that saw Jews massacred at a synagogue in Pittsburgh in October, and an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, Mireille Knoll, brutally stabbed to death by two assailants in Paris in March.

Last month saw another murderous attack in the US at Chabad of Poway near San Diego and, closer to home, an online threat to Central Synagogue in Bondi Junction that thankfully turned out to be a hoax.

Also last month, the New York Times editorial board took the extraordinary step of rebuking its own journalists for publishing a political cartoon with crude caricatures reminiscent of 1930s Germany.

Calling the cartoon “appalling”, the Times said its own actions were “evidence of a profound danger — not only of antisemitism but of numbness to its creep.”

The “ancient, enduring prejudice is once again working itself into public view and common conversation,” they noted.

Ahead of his visit to Sydney this month to talk at the JCA Annual Fundraising Event on May 26, Lévy has been warning of exactly this danger.

The philosopher, activist, filmmaker and author of more than 30 books including The Genius of Judaism does not shy away from controversy. He is an outspoken proponent of the obligation of the “thinking Jew” to provide a moral compass when much of the world seems to have lost direction.

Jews have little choice, says Lévy, but to “recognise the need for resistance and counter-offensive”.

The JCA event, titled “A night of Insight and Illumination”, will be Lévy’s only public speaking engagement in Australia.

Also appearing at the event will be the Australian founder and CEO of LeapFrog Investments, Andrew Kuper, who has been hailed as a trailblazer in changing “the way we invest as individuals, institutions and societies”.

Guests will also enjoy Israeli street food from a pop-up Miznon, the eatery founded by Israeli celebrity chef Eyal Shani.

Bookings for the JCA fundraising event can be made at or by calling (02) 9360 2344.