Bicom anniversary hears upbeat Bernard-Henri Levy

Bicom chair Poju Zabludowicz,centre, with BHL; Amb Daniel Taub, left

Bicom chair Poju Zabludowicz,centre, with BHL; Amb Daniel Taub, left

The celebrated French intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy spelled out his fears and hopes for Israel at a dinner in London to mark the 10th anniversary of the advocacy group Bicom.

In a bravura performance which was closer to lecture-length than an after-dinner speech, the globetrotting author and commentator said: "I was never as concerned as today for the destiny of Israel… at the same time maybe I had never had as much hope as I have today in the future of Israel."

A passionate supporter of Israel for more than 40 years, Mr Levy, known in France by his initials, BHL, listed several causes of anxiety including the "frightening" prospect of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and growing international delegimitisation of Israel.

He also highlighted the growth of a "new form of antisemitism" which accused Jews of supporting a "racist" state, exaggerating the Holocaust and being preoccupied with their own suffering at the expense of others.

But on the positive side, he declared: "We can also see that Israel probably never - at least in my lifetime - had as many as strong, sharp defenders as today."

Mr Levy, who earlier this year lobbied the French government to intervene on the side of the Libyan rebels, also saw hopeful signs in the Arab Spring.

Fears that anti-Israel campaigners might seek an arrest warrant for one guest, former Israeli airforce head Eliezer Shkedi, proved unfounded. Mr Shkedi, now the chief executive of El Al, which sponsored the event, made a presentation to Bicom's founding chairman Poju Zabludowicz.

There were tributes to Bicom by the UK's Israel envoy Matthew Gould and from the Quartet's Middle East envoy Tony Blair.

    Last updated: 2:22pm, November 3 2011