Bernard Lewis

I think confronted with the modern world or with the rest of the world, I think people are becoming aware that the Western and Islamic civilizations have more in common than apart. It was a German scholar, C. H. Becker, who said a long time ago that the real dividing line is not between Islam and Christendom; it’s the dividing line East of Islam, between the Islamic and Christian worlds together on the one hand and the rest of the world on the other. I think there is a lot of truth in that.

“I think confronted with the modern world or with the rest … Read More

You see in Turkey, they had a remarkable success story in building up a democracy. I was in Istanbul for most of the year 1950. That was the year when the government held free and fair election, was defeated and simply withdrew from power and handed it over to the opposition, without precedent in Middle Eastern history. That was a really remarkable time and it was a fascinating and rewarding experience to be there at that time.

“You see in Turkey, they had a remarkable success story in … Read More

Muslims naturally saw Christendom as their arch rival. One point that is really important to bear in mind, particularly in addressing an American audience, and that is that the Islamic world has a very strong sense of history. In the Muslim world, history is important and their knowledge of history is not always accurate but is very detailed. There is a strong historical sense in the Muslim world, a feeling for the history of Islam from the time of the Prophet until the present day.

“Muslims naturally saw Christendom as their arch rival. One point that … Read More

What has been happening in Turkey. The country has been taken over by the present rulers and they have been very, very skillful and taking over everything and taking over control over everything and now taking control over the judiciary. They will be taking over the constitution. Unless there will be some radical change, which is unlikely, I will say the tradition of Kemalism will be dead in Turkey. And Turkey is becoming a more Islamic state, in the traditional sense.

“What has been happening in Turkey. The country has been taken … Read More

If you look at the movement of refugees, in Vladimir Lenin’s phrase, “the people who voted with their feet,” the movement of refugees until comparatively modern times was overwhelmingly from West to East, not from East to West. Refugees of all kinds were constantly fleeing from Christendom to the Islamic lands. Jews of course and Muslims of course, but even some Christians and the movement of refugees went overwhelmingly that way.

“If you look at the movement of refugees, in Vladimir Lenin’s … Read More

One reason which I find particularly fascinating about Israel is this. There is no such thing as a Jewish civilization. There is a Jewish culture, a Jewish religion, but there is no such thing as a Jewish civilization. The Jews were a component basically of two civilizations. In the Western world, we talk about the Judeo-Christian tradition and you talk about the Judeo-Islamic tradition because there were large and important Jewish communities living in the lands of Islam.

“One reason which I find particularly fascinating about Israel is this. … Read More

The Jewish Talmud says that the righteous peoples have an equal place in paradise. The Christians and Muslims agree in rejecting that; they claim that they are the fortunate recipients of God’s final message and those who accepted will go to heaven and those who rejected go to hell. So there is a long struggle between the Dar al-Islam and the Dar al-Harb, which in effect was Christendom. This was the perceived enemy. And this has inevitably colored the perception of everything else.

“The Jewish Talmud says that the righteous peoples have an equal … Read More

In the Christian world, as you remember, Christianity is in the 21st century, Islam is in the 15th century. I don’t mean to say that Islam is backward; I mean to say that there are certain experiences that it hasn’t gone through. Christianity had the great religious wars of the 17th century. Islam, fortunately for the Muslims, did not have that. Christianity worked out a system of toleration. Islam was always more tolerant of Christendom.

“In the Christian world, as you remember, Christianity is in the … Read More