A Review of Left in Dark Times by Bernard-Henri Levy

by Lorna Salzman

"Anti-Americanism is the progressivism of the imbecile"
- Bernard-Henri Levy.

Bernard-Henri Levy, French journalist, must be doing something right if he is constantly attacked by the American left.

But if you read the criticisms carefully, you will note that the leftist attacks seldom if ever actually rebut anything he says. One critic caught him in a lie which turned out to be an error regarding an event that took place in ancient Rome. Other criticisms generally focus on his love life, hair style and clothing. Some point out that he is friendly with French president Nicolas Sarkozy. And so on, and on and on, in this vein.

Levy of course is the latest writer to excoriate, justifiably, the American left, and they won't take his attacks lying down. No wonder: his charges of a resurgent neo-fascism on the left are well documented and doubly substantiated by other critics of the left, including former Marxist Fred Halliday as well as by those other apostates formerly on the left like Christopher Hitchens.

These other critics have focused, as I have numerous times, on the preposterous and insanely blind pro-Palestine/anti-Zionist stances of the American left and their sympathizers in the UK and within the islamofascist community itself. BHL, as he is popularly known in Europe, prefers the term Fascislamism, though that isn't likely to placate those who take issue with the term Islamofascism.

BHL's latest book (if that is the correct term for this collection of first person moral philosophy musings on "the new barbarism") is entitled "Left in Dark Times", and most Americans will find it unreadable. One suspects that these were transcriptions from TV interviews or simply tape recordings of him talking for hours about politics and morality. It is tortuous, full of complex sentences that start with a thought, break off for an interjection preceded and followed by a dash, and conclude, after other interjections within parentheses, with the end of the original thought.

But if one passes over these interjections and connects the first and last part of the sentences, and one persists until the final chapters on anti-Semitism and Islamism, the rewards are great, particularly the analysis and insights into the origins of anti-Semitism and how this, in his considered opinion, underlies the angry anti-Americanism exhibited by the American left. One would be hard put to dispute this connection given the statements and positions of the American left with regard to Israel and the Palestinian problem.

Two subjects of the book I found to be valuable in their historical context: the take-over of the Durban NGO social forum in 2001 by anti-Zionists and pro-Palestine interests and the collaboration of Islamists with Hitler in the 1930s. I had heard rumors about the extremism of the Durban conference but not the details, and these are ugly in the extreme.

This NGO meeting was intended to expose and condemn slavery, world hunger, racism and wars, but these issues were apparently drowned out by the cries of "One Jew, one bullet", echoed by large numbers of the 8000 attendees. Not only Jews were offended, BHL says . Delegations from Rwanda and Burundi as well as from the Roma (gypsies) and the Indian untouchable caste, Dalits, and from indigenous peoples of Ecuador and Colombia, and minority ethnic groups from the Balkans, all expressed dismay at the failure of the conference to give any attention to their problems and the failure to enact any condemnation of the repressive policies in these other countries. All the attendees wanted to hear was the slogan "Free, free Palestine", and the rest of the world be damned.

Besides pro-Nazi groups in Syria and Iraq, who admired the Nazis and their literature as did many Arabs in the middle east, the Muslim Brotherhood founded by Hassan al-Banna (father of present-day islamofascist and fork-tongued poseur Tariq Ramadan) had pledged his organization to the service of the Third Reich which shared his raging anti-Semitism. His brother translated Mein Kampf into Arabic and recruited an aide of Joseph Goebbels as an adviser. Tariq Ramadan is infamous for many things, not least his advocacy of a "moratorium", rather than abolition, on stoning women to death, and for his speech at the 2003 European Social Forum, prior to which he circulated a list of Jewish intellectuals who he thought did not deserve so much media attention.

The key anti-Semite, however, was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, uncle of Yasser Arafat and spiritual father of the leaders of Fatah, who boasted of his visit to Germany in the late 1930s, his friendship with Himmler, and his announcement to Ribbentrop that "the Arabs"...are "ready to cooperate with Germany with all their hearts", and his meeting with Hitler in which he promised to form a "Fascist-type Arab state" in exchange for the Nazis' support in eradicating the emerging Jewish state, and finally his visit to Auschwitz, after which he wrote "I'll go peacefully to my grave knowing that five million Jews have been exterminated".

Thus, the line of inheritance of anti-Semitism from the 1930s down through today becomes clear. The Muslim Brotherhood, its western headquarters in Geneva run by Tariq Ramandan's brother, is the living breathing DNA of anti-Semitism, while Palestinian groups model themselves on the Nazis and call for the extermination of Zionism and Israel: read Jews. BHL makes an impeccable case for the left's disguise of their anti-Semitism in the form of support for the Palestine Right of Return groups and the fact that these groups have never supported a two-state solution to the problem, clear evidence of their real intent.

But how is this connected to anti-Americanism? Very simply: the left never ceases to attack American support for the state of Israel, both military and strategic support. Israel is regarded by them as America's surrogate in the middle east, and all this is reinforced by people like Walt and Mearsheimer, among others, who assert that Zionists are formulating American policy towards Israel, as well as by Noam Chomsky, whom BHL calls a "planetary fraud" and "maniacal negationist", Israel-hater journalist Robert Fisk, and, surprisingly for some of us, French anti-globalist Jose Bove, who, renouncing his pacifism, goes to Ramallah and then posts on Tariq Ramadan's web site the "murders" and "internment camps" he sees there; he adds insult to injury later by suggesting that the anti-Semitic attacks in Paris in 2002 could only have been committed by those who "profit from it", inferring Israel or the Zionists.

Though much of this important history is partly buried in the nearly indecipherable syntax of this book, one can in fact extract important facts and details. One can also extract the lesson that the author is teaching: that the left preaches a double moral standard first of all, and that its tactics resemble not the radical or even progressive anti-fascism that originally motivated leftist movements but have come to resemble the repressive tactics of fascist regimes past and present. BHL ends on a regretful note, saying he still considers himself to be on the left but cannot remain quiet in the face of the left's betrayal of its principles and origins.

© 2002 Lorna Salzman. All rights reserved. Material may be quoted with permission.