Libyan authorities have banned the French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy from being part of former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s entourage to Libya because Lévy is Jewish.
Lévy was a champion of the revolt against former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who fell in 2011. He was instrumental in advising Sarkozy to send French warplanes to aid the rebellion.
Lévy wrote approvingly just last month, on the second anniversary of the Libyan revolution, about the new Libyan prime minister, Ali Zeidan:
The leader of the country, the master of all of Libya’s parts, is a newcomer whose integrity, moral uprightness, and refusal to dishonor himself under the old regime eventually brought him, as some of us had predicted, to the exercise of a power that he always said he did not want. Despite that rise, nothing distinguishes the new Ali from the one who had been my companion two years ago, the images of whom, heroic and fragile, as set down in my war diary and in my film of the war, are easily superimposed with the one before me now. Nothing–truly, nothing–in Ali Zeidan’s attitude, in the explosion of booming laughter that greets me as I enter his hotel suite (laughter quickly followed by the slaps on the back of old comrades happy to be meeting again), or in his relationship with Mansour, his longtime friend and now his closest adviser–has changed…
In response to the concern expressed by the former French president about the extent of the role played by Islamists in the country, Ali Zeidan counters that although the threat is present and should not be underestimated, it is marginal. The vast majority of the Libyan people, he says, remain faithful to the moderate Islam that is known, in Benghazi, as the middle ground and for which we all fought so hard.
Lévy continued of the meeting of Sarkozy and Ali Zeidan on the anniversary, “I see the complicity that binds them, a complicity that, despite the vicissitudes of life and political differences, binds me, too, to the two of them.”
The official explanation for the ban on Lévy visiting Libya is that the government thought Islamists would target Lévy because he is Jewish.
Photo: NATO Public Diplomacy Division/Benoit Linder