The left, in particular, has long despised Lévy, in something like the way it came to despise Christopher Hitchens. That is because, even as he claims to be a socialist himself, he stands for three things that are anathema to the contemporary left. First, he is fundamentally opposed to the idea of revolution; he came to prominence in the 1970s as a spokesman for the “New Philosophers,” a group of young thinkers who rejected the violent revolutionary fantasies of French Marxists and Maoists. Second, he advocates an interventionist foreign policy in defense of humanitarianism and human rights—most recently, he supported the NATO action in Libya. Since at least the Iraq War, if not earlier, this idea has been scorned by the left as a mere fig leaf for Western imperialism, and a recipe for international chaos (with Libya as a case in point). And third, Lévy is a committed Jew, who places Jewishness and the state of Israel at the heart of his political and intellectual identity.
This is particularly significant in a French context, because in recent years Alain Badiou, often considered France’s greatest living philosopher, has helped to turn anti-Judaism into an intellectual point of pride. To Badiou, and his epigone Slavoj Žižek, Judaism is the enemy of utopianism; just as Jews denied Christ, so Jewish liberals today deny the transcendent dimension of the revolutionary Event. The only good Jews, according to this school, are the ones who reject solidarity with other Jews and turn themselves into revolutionaries and pariahs, like Spinoza and Marx. In particular, this form of left-wing anti-Judaism demands hostility to Israel as a token of liberation from Jewish particularism.I wouldn't say that that sort of thinking is exclusive to France. It pretty much describes leftist thinking vis-à-vis Israel in North America and the rest of Western Europe, including the U.K., too, does it not?
(As an aside, doesn't the piquant phrase "Badiou and his epigone Slavoj Žižek" sound like the name of a French art house movie?)