In 1998, Lévy publishes in Le Monde two major investigative reports about Algeria, then ravaged by terrorism. His investigations, which take a firm stand against radical Islam and pin most of the blame for the violence on its adherents, trigger a furious debate. Through La Régle du Jeu, Lévy wages a tireless campaign in support of democratic forces in Algeria.
In April of the same year he returns to Sarajevo to receive from Bosnia’s president the country’s highest honor, the Coat of Arms, for services rendered to the Bosnian nation. He is one of three Frenchmen to have been so honored (the others being Bernard Kouchner and General Philippe Morillon). After years of maintaining that he sought no decorations and repeatedly declining induction into the French Légion d’Honneur, he makes an exception to accept the Bosnian award.
Ten years after the fatwa declared against Salman Rushdie, Bernard-Henri Lévy joins the author in publishing Questions de Principe VI (Livre de Poche), which describes the years of suffering of the hunted author and the shared views and friendship of the two authors.
In 2000, Grasset publishes Lévy’s Le Siècle de Sartre. To mark the twentieth anniversary of Sartre’s death the Sartrean Study Group asks Lévy to deliver the opening address at a colloquium it sponsors at the Sorbonne.
Also in 2000, Bernard-Henri Lévy travels to Jerusalem to inaugurate the Institute of Levinassian Studies, which he founded with Benny Lévy and Alain Finkielkraut.
In September 2001, Bernard-Henri Lévy publishes Réflexions sur la Guerre, le Mal et la fin de l’Histoire, a collection of his war reporting from Angola, Sri Lanka, Burundi, Colombia and Sudan that first appeared in Le Monde, Corriere della Sera, and El Mundo (Madrid). The original reports are supplemented by notes, portraits, anecdotes, and reflections on war and literature, as well as autobiographical passages. The work, praised by the French and European press as a major contribution to politically committed literature, receives the Prix d’Aujourd’hui.
Keeping a promise made during the Bosnian war to help Serbia recover from its totalitarian nightmare, Lévy produces Goran Markovic’s documentary, Serbia, Year Zero.
In February 2002, French President Jacques Chirac, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, and Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine ask Lévy to go to Afghanistan to assess how France can best contribute to the reconstruction of free Afghanistan. Upon his return, Lévy presents a report that is published jointly by La Documentation Française and Grasset.
In May, Lévy is awarded an honorary doctorate from Tel Aviv University.
In September, Lévy founds a French-language monthly in Afghanistan, Les Nouvelles de Kaboul. The publication, which he edits, is supported by the Fondation André Lévy, established by Bernard-Henri Lévy in honor of his father. Simultaneously, in Burundi, and with support from the same foundation, he and David Gakunzi found a radio station called “Renaissance and Citizenship” that broadcasts across the lakes region to counter the influence of Radio Mille Collines.
Still in 2002 and again with the resources of the Fondation André Lévy, Bernard-Henri Lévy’s companions from the war in Bosnia, Susan and Samir Landzo, establish the Kid’s Festival of Sarajevo, which aims to help Bosnia’s children rebuild a society torn apart by war, death, and the thirst for vengeance.
In January 2002, American journalist Daniel Pearl is taken hostage in Pakistan and then decapitated by a group of Islamic fundamentalists close to Al Qaeda. For a year, in Karachi, Kandahar, New Delhi, London, Washington, Los Angeles, Jerusalem, and Islamabad, Bernard-Henri Lévy retraces the journalist’s steps. The result of this long investigation appears in French in May 2003 (Grasset) and in English under the title Who Killed Daniel Pearl? (Melville House; translated by James Mitchell).
Also in 2003, the Sartrean Study Group and the International Simone de Beauvoir Society ask Bernard-Henri Lévy and Julia Kristeva to deliver the opening address at a colloquium at the Sorbonne entitled “From Beauvoir to Sartre and from Sartre to Beauvoir.”
In 2004, Grasset publishes Récidives, subtitled Question de Principe IX, a collection of essays and articles on literature, philosophy, the cinema, Bosnia, and Israel, among other subjects, many of them previously unpublished.
In July of the same year, responding to a commission from the Atlantic Monthly, Bernard-Henri Lévy begins a voyage across the United States “in the footsteps of Tocqueville.” He also produces, through Films du Lendemain, a Franco-Afghan film entitled Terres et Cendres (Earth and Ashes), adapted from the novel of the same name by Atiq Rahimi. Through the same company, he also commences production of the filmed version of his American odyssey, directed by Michko Netchak with assistance from Gilles Hertzog.