Lévy is correct in observing that this new look to an ancient prejudice has the potential to become a 'moral atomic bomb.' Condemning Israel (and world Jewry) for the suffering of Palestinians normalizes anti-Semitism, allowing it to appear more respectable as a human rights issue, concealing its bigoted, murderous agenda. In a sly twist to centuries of Jewish displacement, Jews are now being blamed for having a homeland and for vigorously defending it ... The Genius of Judaism, a smart, revealing and essential book for our times, is Lévy’s own private whale, and our treacherous world is his Nineveh. The book enables him to reflect on how he has lived his life as a Jew and how, as a student of moral philosophy and world events, his writer’s voice took on more prophetic, humanistic dimensions.
What is one to make of The Genius of Judaism? Its emotional logic — which is in part the logic of an unconscious penitent, that of a secular universalist yearning to be a yeshiva bocher, engaged in daily pilpul — goes in one direction and its intellectual logic in another. And yet, even if one doesn’t agree with its predicates or its conclusions, there is a lot here that is genuinely provocative and, on occasion, insightful. If only more time had been spent organizing the book and filling in the context, this effort might have carried greater weight. As it stands now, The Genius of Judaism reads like a trawling manuscript in search of an editor — or, perhaps, a more introspective author.
While he is a committed Zionist and extols the virtues of Israel as a model of democracy, Lévy argues that Jews’ ethical duty is not confined to the needs of fellow Jews or their allies, but also must be turned toward the non-Jew, even to Israel’s most hateful enemies ... An impassioned work written with a fluid, poetic prose that’s deeply affecting ... he provides a powerful critique of modern anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, which often parade in the guise of a liberal commitment to the human rights of Palestinians ... Lévy defends the absolute right of Israel as a political state while never losing sight of various ways Israeli leaders have not lived up to their own promise.