Bernard-Henri LÃ©vy, author of Who Killed Daniel Pearl?, participated in a seminar last fall (pictured above, with link) about how the West is thinking about Islam too much — indeed, that it is “obsessed” with it, and that this obsession is “costing us.” I don’t know what stand BHL took on that issue at the seminar, but in any case, now he has been targeted for death by jihadists. Perhaps those who think we are thinking about Islam too much are not thinking about it enough.
BHL’s view of Islamic jihad is almost accurate. In “Europe is possible,” an interview of him by Thierry Chervel at Sign and Sight, April 20, 2007, he says this:
…But, you have to understand that this phenomenon of Islamism takes place in a double context. There is, if I dare say, the “little” context, the religious one. But there’s also another context, what I call the “big” political context, which is tied up with the history of fascism. Some people would have us believe Islamism is a purely religious affair, that the whole problem lies in the Koran and all you have to do to correct matters is amend it. That’s not my opinion. Of course I believe the Koran must be amended. I believe we need a generation – of Muslims of course – who will undertake with the Koran the work of religious Aggiornamento that the Jews and Christians did with their own sacred book. And I believe, to put it brutally, that a part of the problem will be resolved when Muslims accept that the divine word must be subjected to commentary – when, to put it another way, a sort of “talmudic” tradition emerges in Islam.
To say that the Qur’an should be “amended” is a huge step — one that goes far beyond the claim of most Western authorities and learned analysts, that Islam Is A Religion of Peaceâ„¢ that has been Hijacked by a Tiny Minority of Extremistsâ„¢. But his view is otherwise naive. The Qur’an has already been “subjected to commentary” by Muslims for centuries, and that commentary has only reinforced the supremacist and violent aspects of the book — as we have shown many times here. A wholesale reexamination of the Qur’an and this authoritative interpretative tradition is indeed needed, but Westerners must also realize that it is unlikely to happen, and that we cannot depend upon it, even as we call for it (which call can also expose false moderates) and welcome any genuine signs of it.
BHL goes on in the same interview to claim that political Islam has its roots in 1930s European totalitarianism, which is a piece of common bunkum that ignores the political character of Islam that goes all the way back to the Hegira, and the political aspects of Sharia that have been consistently taught by all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence.
Note also that this hit list was found “during a raid on homes of local Muslim community members.” Did other “local Muslim community members” report these would-be murderers and abettors of murder to police? Or did they silently approve of what they were doing? Does anyone know? Does anyone care?
Jewish-French philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy was listed by a Belgium-based Islamist group as a target for assassination alongside other leading Jewish personalities in Europe, the Belgian daily La Derniere Heure reported earlier this week.
The planned assassination was apparently thwarted after group leader Abdelkader Belliraj, a Belgian of Moroccan ascent, was arrested last February in Morocco, the newspaper reported.
Belgian authorities found the list during a raid on homes of local Muslim community members last November, according to the report.
The hit list mentioned the names of five other well-know Jewish figures in Belgium and France: Josy Eisenberg, producer of the A Bible ouverte (Open Bible) television program on FR2; Simone Susskind, a leader of Belgium’s secular Jewish community; attorney Markus Pardes, president of the International Association of Jewish lawyers and jurists; Belgian writer Jean-Claude Bologne and La Derniere Heure reporter Edmond Blattche….
Some more background:
BHL says a great deal that is good about the Islamic jihad threat, but he (like so many others) is also myopic about jihad in the Balkans and Chechnya. From “Bernard-Henri LÃ©vy: A very political pin-up,” from The Independent, March 8, 2004:
“The fight of my life, since the fall of the Berlin Wall, has been in favour of moderate Islam against the Islamists [BHL’s term for Islamic fundamentalism],” he says, leaning forward. “I fought and campaigned for intervention in Bosnia, because the Muslims of Bosnia are the embodiment of the Islam of Enlightenment, and they were being slaughtered. I campaigned for France to support the great Ahmed Shah Massoud.” (Massoud was a heroic, anti-Taliban Afghan democrat, known as the “Lion of Panjshir”. On 9 September 2001, al-Qa’ida suicide bombers murdered him.)
“I went to see him many times. He was my friend. Massoud, to me, was the embodiment of moderate Islam. And I have supported the Chechen resistance, which contains many people who are the embodiment of moderate Islam. For me, to stand by the side of moderate Muslims today is as important as to stand beside the dissidents of the Soviet Union. This is the fight of our day. I supported these people not just with my mind, but with my feet. I went and saw their struggles. I try to tell the world about them.”
I am all for standing with genuine moderates, but Massoud aside, neither in Bosnia or Chechnya have any actual moderates been able to hold the line against the encroachments of jihadists. Here again we encounter the problem of definition. Would BHL consider Izetbegovic, who wrote about the need to restore the Islamic state and Sharia, a moderate?