Image for The Great

The 2021-22 Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture

Please upgrade to a browser that supports HTML5 video or install Flash.Screen-Shot-2022-04-07-at-1.16.22-PM-wg-y00.png

Bernard-Henri Lévy, French philosopher, filmmaker, activist, and author.

Thursday, March 31, 2022
12:00 PM (Pacific Time)

 Image for Calendar ButtonImage for Calendar Buttonimage for support button



Bernard-Henri Lévy is a French philosopher, filmmaker, activist and the author of over 45 books.

Lévy’s work as an intellectual and writer is uniquely intertwined with humanitarian activism. Over the course of 2020, Lévy wrote for a group of international newspapers including the Wall Street JournalDer SternLa RepubblicaParis-Match and others and reported from countries overcome with suffering and hardship, disrupted by war and facing the most challenging geopolitical disasters, but off the radar of the West. These experiences were chronicled in his latest film, The Will to See, which premiered January 16, 2021 at Lincoln Center’s New York Jewish Film Festival.  

In 2018, following the abandonment of the West after the 2017 Iraqi Kurdish referendum and the Turkish attack on Afrin, Lévy co-founded a US based non-profit organization: Justice for Kurds. Since its creation, Justice for Kurds is a main base of Mr. Lévy’s humanitarian commitments. Since 2015, Lévy has been very involved on the side of the Kurds, in the fight against ISIS. His documentary film, Peshmerga, premiered as Official Selection of the Cannes Film Festival and followed his months embedded with the Kurdish forces traveling the 450 km front line against the jihadists. In 2016, Lévy was embedded with the Kurdish and Iraqi forces liberating Mosul. Out of this unique experience, came another film, The Battle of Mosul, which is the only first-hand account of the fall of the Caliphate’s capital.

Lévy was instrumental in the intervention by Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Barack Obama in order to protect the civilian population in Libya against dictator Moammar Gaddafi and published a first-hand account of his role in this war in the form of a writer’s journal (La Guerre sans l’aimer, 2012) and a film, The Oath of Tobruk (Official Selection Festival de Cannes 2012). 

In the wake of the war against the Taliban, in 2002, Lévy was appointed by French President Jacques Chirac as Special Envoy to Afghanistan. His findings resulted in the French book Reports to the French President and Prime Minister on France’s Participation in the Reconstruction of Afghanistan (2002). It was published for the first time in English in July 2021 by the Middle East Institute with a foreword by General David Petraeus.

In June 1992, Lévy convinced French President François Mitterrand to make his surprise-journey to Sarajevo to stand in support with the Bosnians. For four years, Lévy pushed for the West to intervene and stop the ethnic cleansing and atrocities committed by the Serbs.

Bernard-Henri Lévy has always been a devoted Zionist. His book The Genius of Judaism (2017) is an ode to the exceptionalism of Israel and the grandeur of Jewish thought. 

Examples of his books include: The Will to See: Dispatches from a World of Misery and Hope (2021), The Virus in the Age of Madness (2020), The Empire and the Five Kings (2019) and American Vertigo, Traveling America in the footsteps of Tocqueville (2005). He followed the trail of the murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan for his book Who Killed Daniel Pearl? (2003).



Kal Raustiala holds the Promise Institute Chair in Comparative and International Law at UCLA Law School and is a Professor at the UCLA International Institute, where he teaches in the Program on Global Studies. Since 2007 he has served as Director of the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations. From 2012-2015 he was UCLA’s Associate Vice Provost for International Studies and Faculty Director of the International Education Office. Professor Raustiala's research focuses on international law, international relations, and intellectual property. He is currently writing a biography of the late UN diplomat, civil rights figure, and UCLA alum Ralph Bunche for Oxford University Press.



In sponsoring the Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture Series, the Burkle Center for International Relations celebrates the memory of Daniel Pearl as a prominent journalist who dedicated his life to bringing joy and understanding to the world. Past presenters have included David Remnick of The New Yorker, Leon Wieseltier of The New Republic, Christopher Hitchens, CNN's Anderson Cooper and Jake Tapper, David Brooks and Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, ABC’s Ted Koppel, CBS’s Jeff Greenfield, Daniel Schorr of NPR, CNN's Larry King, former Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice, CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Ambassador Samantha Power, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bret Stephens, CNN anchor Fareed Zakaria, and Bob Woodward, award-winning author and associate editor of the Washington Post. 

To learn more and support this lecture series, visit:



This event is co-sponsored by the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations, the Daniel Pearl Foundation, the Hillel Center for Jewish Life at UCLA, and Gregory Annenberg Weingarten, GRoW@Annenberg.

Sponsor(s): Burkle Center for International Relations, Daniel Pearl Foundation, Hillel Center for Jewish Life at UCLA

Please upgrade to a browser that supports HTML5 audio or install Flash.

Audio MP3 Download Podcast

Duration: 01:05:12


Transcript   * This might take a few seconds to load.