Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bernard Lewis on “Radical Islam: Israel and the West”

On February 16, 2010, The Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (SICSA) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem hosted an exclusive seminar featuring Prof. Bernard Lewis, a world expert in the field of Middle Eastern studies and Islam entitled “Radical Islam: Israel and the West”.

An Israeli participant sends the following summary of the topics that were discussed:

The seminar was moderated by Prof. Robert S. Wistrich, the Center’s director and a world expert on anti-Semitism.

Muslims and the West

Prof. Lewis began by explaining that “this is the first time in 1,000 years that the Muslim world is in charge of their own affairs.” In this post-Communist era, “the Russians can’t play a role, and the Americans don’t want to play a role.” This change has created a painful new awareness in the Muslim world and has raised questions regarding why Muslim countries have fallen behind the West. There seems to be two very different answers to this question.

The first approach claims that Western Imperialism is to blame. The supporters of this view place the blame squarely on the United States and Israel (“the ‘illegitimate offspring’ of the United States”), who they see as the face of Western Imperialism today. They believe that modernization is a betrayal of their Islamic heritage and the only solution is to return to authentic Islam, no matter the sacrifice. This is what radical Islam is claiming to be doing.

The second approach claims that the Muslim world has no one to blame but themselves for their current state of affairs. In other words, the Muslim countries haven’t fallen behind the West as a result of Western Imperialism but as a result of their own actions — it is a “self-inflicted condition.” Supporters of this view agree that the solution lies in the modernization of Muslim countries — no finger pointing, just hard work to make it happen.

Prof. Lewis summed it up as follows: “It is important to realize that the greatest tragedy of the Middle East is a result of reforms introduced in the Middle East by Arab and Muslim rulers, not Europeans in the 19th and 20th Centuries.”

Europe and Islam

Prof. Lewis also discussed the concern that Muslims may take over Europe. He pointed out that it is hard to address this issue because there aren’t any reliable statistics regarding the number of Muslims in Europe. However, one indication that this concern may be well-founded is a rise in the number of Muslim names being given to children, and in some European countries these names are now the most popular.
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Historically, it is important to remember that the Muslims made two previous attempts to conquer Europe — the first was in the 7th Century and the second in the 19th Century. The third attempt, which we are witnessing today, seems to have a much better chance at success. This current conquest is being waged in the form of peaceful migration rather than military aggression. As such, it is that much harder for Europe to defend itself.

What (the Muslims) are saying in Europe is that they want the same rights that the Muslims granted Christians and Jews in the classic Muslim state. These seem to be very legitimate claims and they imply that Muslims in Europe aren’t looking to take over Europe, they just want to ensure their basic rights as citizens. “The only question remaining for us to answer regarding the future of Europe,” quipped Prof. Lewis, “is will it be an Islamized Europe or a European Islam?”


When asked about the current situation in Iran, Prof. Lewis was very optimistic. “The regime is extremely unpopular, there is a great desire for change and the prospect in Iran is encouraging.”

He explained that “the revolution has reached the Napoleon stage” and as such “we shouldn’t give Iran the gift of Patriotism.” We must be very careful not to slip into the trap of strengthening the resolve of the Iranian radicals by questioning their rights to Nuclear weapons, giving them a reason to unite their people from within.

Radical & Moderate Islam

One development that does concern Prof. Lewis is the growth of radical Islam in several Muslim countries. Saudi Arabia is the most extreme example (“Wahhabism is the official religion of Saudi Arabia at the present time.”) and Turkey is also showing signs of a change in ideology (“What is happening in Turkey is alarming as it appears to be the first successful attempt to undo the Kemalist Revolution.”).

The good news, however, is that not all Muslims or Arabs are extremists or Jihadists, and we must support and strengthen these moderates. Prof. Lewis pointed out that authentic Islam is not about violence (“Sharia law states not to harm non-combatants and that suicide in all forms is forbidden”.) and that moderates (i.e. “those who don’t make the headlines”) are more than willing to accept the modern world and the West.

This article was compiled by the staff of The Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (SICSA) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The Center (www.sicsa.huji.ac.il) is dedicated to an independent, non-political approach to the accumulation and dissemination of knowledge necessary for understanding the multi-faceted phenomenon of anti-Semitism.


Fjordman said...

Bernard Lewis has written some worthwhile books in the past, a couple of which I have quoted myself. However, his statements are becoming increasingly erratic with old age. There is no "European Islam," as Mr. Lewis and Bassam Tibi seem to suggest. Muslims don't have "legitimate claims" and they want to take over the entire world, not just Europe. This is stated explicitly in their religious texts. They don't want equal rights, they want superior rights over us in our countries. It's called sharia, which states that Muslims should rule over others.

The only question remaining is whether we expel them again, as we have done in the past, of whether they destroy this continent.

Profitsbeard said...

"...authentic Islam is not about violence..." -B. Lewis.


Tell that to Mohammad.

"...strike at their necks..." Sura 9:5, the Koran.

"...if they change their religion, then kill them..." -Hadith, quoting Mohammad.

Time for retirement, Bernie.

Maybe a nice condo in Qom?

Where the peaceful nuclear aspirations of the lunatic ayatollahs will be so cozy... and warm.

Defend Civilization or move aside, bub.

Islam itself has nothing but duplicitous apologists, they don't need kafir dog assistants.

Arius said...

Bernard Lewis denies the fact of the Turk perpetrated Armenian Genocide of 1.5 millions in spite of mountains of evidence.

For him to say that "... Muslims ... {only} want the same rights that the Muslims granted Christians and Jews in the classic Muslim state" he must be a blockhead, dumb as that rock in Mecca. Muslims in Europe don't want dhimmitude for themselves, they want to put the ball and chain of dhimmitude around the necks of the Europeans.

Free Hal said...

I'm hard on Bernard Lewis. His status is one more sign that Europe’s civil society has no source of self-repair.

His sole contribution is to suggest that the muslim world’s problems are not solely the fault of Europeans and Americans.

He is considered a critic of Islam, set up for edgy debates opposite Tariq Ramadan, someone with whom he has uncomfortable similarities.

This paragraph, for instance, could have come straight out of the Tariq Ramadan press office:

"What (the Muslims) are saying in Europe is that they want the same rights that the Muslims granted Christians and Jews in the classic Muslim state. These seem to be very legitimate claims and they imply that Muslims in Europe aren’t looking to take over Europe, they just want to ensure their basic rights as citizens. “The only question remaining for us to answer regarding the future of Europe,” quipped Prof. Lewis, “is will it be an Islamized Europe or a European Islam?”"

The reference to "rights that the Muslims granted Christians and Jews in the classic Muslim state" refers to the Millet system under the Ottomans. But:
(a) this wasn't a classic muslim state, but an 19th century muslim state that had long since come to the end of its power of conquest since Vienna 1683,
(b) the Millet system was the codification of Dhimmi status: Christians and Jews could arbitrate their own civil affairs but woe betide them if they had a difference with a muslim - then sharia applied,
(c) this has nothing to do with protecting muslims' "basic rights as citizens" - secular civil society does that already - but about protecting what Islam says are muslims' rights as muslims, and
(d) muslim enclaves in Europe are not the result of non-muslim encroachment, but the reverse.

Finally, to declare airily that "These seem to be very legitimate claims" is unworthy of any historian.

He has never to my knowledge ventured a solution. His aim appears to be to pose questions for intellectuals to savour like fine wine. You can almost hear sycophantic chuckling to his ‘quip’: “The only question remaining for us to answer regarding the future of Europe is will it be an Islamized Europe or a European Islam?”

If that is the “only question” then why no answer? And what do you do if the answer is not the one you want? And why is this question relevant at all given the disturbing similarities between European Islam and Islam generally?

And Lewis should know the numbers of muslims in Europe. European governments are coy about it, but there are other indicators, and Lewis has always billed himself as a researcher.

Few answers. Lots of questions. Nearly all of them irrelevant.

Best wishes,


Zenster said...

What (the Muslims) are saying in Europe is that they want the same rights that the Muslims granted Christians and Jews in the classic Muslim state.

That one just sort of leaps right off of the page and bites you on the face, now doesn't it?

I'm obliged to go with those numerous others that found the above statement more than a little off base. Clearly, Lewis has not fully considered the obvious implications of his own conjectures. By doing so, he has achieved a position of accomplice more than scholar.

ɱØяñιηg$ʇðя ©™ said...

What rights does the copts have in Egypt, Bernie? Basically to f-off and die. That's it folks!

Baron Bodissey said...

Dr. Lewis has long since made his position on Islam clear. No one could ever count him as part of the Counterjihad. He is a scholar of Islam, and a sometime Islam-critic, but -- unlike, say, Hans Jansen -- he tends to veer off into being an apologist for Islam much of the time.

I presume that SICSA realized this about Dr. Lewis when they extended the invitation.

George Mc. said...

"Prof. Lewis pointed out that authentic Islam is not about violence (“Sharia law states not to harm non-combatants and that suicide in all forms is forbidden”.}"

Well, yes that's true as far as it goes, but Mr. Lewis doesn't go all the way. The very existence of non-Muslims is an affront to Islam because they have de-facto rejected Allah and Mohammed and are therefore not non-combatants, but are to be confronted and forced to convert, pay the jizya, or die. If you are non-Muslim, you are a combatant. Also, Muslims do not count as suicide the death of a Muslim who dies while killing non-Muslims. He is a martyr and is thus guaranteed a direct path to paradise. It is, in fact, the only guaranteed way according to Mohammed.

To not carry the thought to its logical conclusion in Islamic theology is either done out of ignorance, or is dissembling. Since Mr. Lewis professes to be an Islamic scholar, I suspect he knows all this and is simply dissembling.

Aquila said...

Thanks to that prostitute historian, the David Irvingesque Bernard Lewis, people were and are still taught that Muslim massacres of the Jews throughout history were a result of anti Semitic, European ‘Christian’ writers who somehow inspired or influenced Muslims to commit such atrocities.

Lewis adopted this approach when writing his Islamic ‘histories’ so as not to endanger his exclusive access to the bureaucratic detritus of the defunct Ottoman empire that was so generously granted to him by his friends in the Turkish government a few years after WWII.

Lewis would have felt perfectly safe in adopting an Irvingesque approach as in those pre internet days just about everyone in the West, was completely unfamiliar with the contents of those depraved, hate filled screeds, the Koran, the Hadiths and the Sira, and no one had to worry about having to avoid ‘No-Go’ areas of their cities.

Lewis did such a thorough job, and his historical whitewash of Islam was greeted with such acclaim by his Turkish-Muslim masters, that his ‘historical works’ were soon translated into Turkish and Arabic and became the main source documents in western universities to support almost every delusional belief still held about Islam and Islamic history in the west.

With people like Esposito and Karen Armstrong continuing to embellish and build upon the foundation of BL’s Irvingesque fantasy about Islam there is almost no chance that the false versions of Islamic history being peddled in western universities will change.

The muddled leftists of the elective juntas that misgovern every single so-called democracy in Europe, North America and Australasia lack the mental capacity, let alone the will, to do other than allow their respective nations to gradually transform themselves into new style Lebanons.

No histories, other than the false histories written by the Lewis-Esposito-Armstrong type of historian, will be allowed to exist as a guide for the confused non Muslims of the next generation. They will be unable to work out what caused their once prosperous countries to slowly mutate into Islamic hell holes.

Using the rise of Iran’s Khomeini in the early 1970s as the starting point, we’re getting close to being almost two generations into a new version of an Islamic ‘Golden Age’.

Don’t expect things to improve.

Quaoar said...

Islam, on the whole, is anathema to modernization. Yes, some Islamic countries do seem to have a face of modernization; but, no, underneath it all is a lack of emphasis on modern education of the masses. The Quran dictates everything about education to most Muslims in seven century AD terms.

What this means is that there will be, if possible, mass ranching of halal camels, goats, and sheep in Europe as the primary development activity of Muslims. The great engineering and scientific establishments of Europe will be no more, except as a Muslim source of better Halal cell phones. The Quran says nothing about science and education, so there it is.

I think that the old Lebanon is a good example for what Europe faces. Once the modern face of cooperation of Muslims, Christians, and several other religions, it became a killing zone when the Muslims acquired modern weapons to emulate the Quaran's dictates.

My best guess is that England will be the first to fall. Britain seems bent on restricting the rights of their own citizens in favor of fomanating Muslims. Next will be Sweden, although raising livestock in Sweden is difficult, and the reason that so many Swedes emmigrated to Canada and the US.

With Islam in the world as a major force, the future is dismal for
western forms of civilizaton.

Anonymous said...

First of all, there's no such thing as radical Islam. There is Islam and that is about it - and Islam is just like it's historical manifestation: violent. There are moderate Muslims who don't practice the real Islam(funny enough, they're going to hell according to their religion). In the same sense, I am an Orthodox Christian. I don't fast, for example, even though I'm supposed to. This doesn't mean that I'm practicing a moderate Orthodox Christianity. lol. So no such thing as European Islam, just like any other foreign group becoming relevant will make Europe stop being European. For example, while I was in London or Paris, if it wasn't for the historical buildings, I wouldn't have felt like I was in Europe at all. And Europe is more than a collection of street names and pleasant architecture. And yes, Sharia does grants me rights as a non-combatant in the same way in which a capitulated army had rights - not much.

Also, I disagree, this invasion isn't more successful. We are failing because it's impossible to fix in the relative and equal mindset we have now. But with a change of that, it would be easy - ban Islam and the new building of mosques while slowly letting the old ones crumble(hey, it's successful under Sharia and apparently Lewis would support it since Muslims would have the same rights as us would under Sharia - actually, I'd have those rights if I faked being devouted to my religion, otherwise I'd be executed) and stripping all Muslims of their citizenship and making them leave and go back home. What people don't realize is that the time to chit chat about it and be nice is over. If you want Europe to stay Europe, we need to change the way we see the world completely and go back a century and a half in our mentality. The people who dispair about the solution are the people who still try to find the solutions within the current mindset, which is indeed impossible. But with a different mindset, it becomes less difficult.

What this article misses because it doesn't follow through is this... The problem aren't Muslims, their birth rates. These are consequences. The problem is this - who are we? Who is an European? Because if an European isn't an ethnic European who also treasures his own culture, than he is the "Other".

Anonymous said...

Oh, another thing, as long as we won't see the countries of the ethnic Europeans as theirs and the migrants as foreigners and we will consider them equal, their ideas become equal too. It's just natural because you accept their identity.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Bernard Lewis knows a lot about history, and that is good. But goodness ends there.

He's a convicted genocide denier (fine: 1 Franc :), peddles in moral equivalence between Islam and the West, and was (if I recall correctly) used extensively to justify Iraq War II.

Reading his books can be instructive, but I wouldn't invite him for a conference. He'd talk away from the controversial issues we need to confront.

Anonymous said...

It is biased to identify Islam as a religion of violence, when that is not the case. The birth of Islam, mirrors that to the birth of Christianity; the refusal of Jesus from the Jews and the emergence of Christianity as we know it today in Europe.

Throughout history the only form of power was through war, hence, the position of Islam in war is the same as the position of Christianity in war. No death was necessary and no form of superior power offered equality to the ‘other’.

The issue with Islamic Scholarship is the delicacy of its interpretation. Unfortunately, many Muslims, particularly those who are extreme and non-Muslims who are uneducated, do not realise that to interpret the Qur’an you must have a certain level of credentials to do so. A part of a verse cannot be taken, translated or practised without the whole of the verse, the time, the event and the situation is also examined. Many people believe that because there are verses that condemn infidels, as encourage jihad that this is the whole of the religion. That would be illogical. Each verse can only be used within a certain preference, situation and time, it is not applicable to everyone and everything. The first used above, "...strike at their necks..." Sura 9:5, the Koran.
This cannot be taken literally, you may think I being romantic in thought, but I have dedicated my life to academic studies of religious scholarship.

Indeed, during a time of war, during for instance the crusades this was used. But it is not a religious practise, rather a military approach that can only be observed at certain times and within certain circumstances. So the issue here, which Muslims have failed to illustrate is the distinction between the personal practise of Islam (prayer, knowledge, fasting, alms ect,) and the political and military aspects identified within Islam, only applicable within a certain contexts.

Similarly, to say Europe is being plagued by Islam is backwards, Muslims go to the Western world to practise their faith harmoniously without the concern of dictators implanting a strict and unwarranted and unjustified and illogical, so called Islamic rule that is not even Islamic. Yes, many Muslims say they want the world to be Muslim, but honestly, the amount of people who say that and actually believe that is very minimal, it’s only a form of showing off, which is wrong, racist and not tolerable. Muslims should not say or believe that.

But it is not the religion that dictates it is the people pride that forms a greater war than that of the Iraq war. I am a Muslim, and I don’t believe that any religion would dictate who is or is not going to heaven; I certainly cannot say that my fellow colleagues are going to hell, for that thought alone makes me worthy of being sent to hell myself. There is a lot of misunderstandings amongst the Muslims and non-Muslims about the position of Islam in the world and its relationship with politics and dictatorship. If it was separated from the state, just as the church was, it may have been treated as a religion, as it should be. It is a religion, one that needs to be reassessed with the correct level of knowledge from both Muslims and non-Muslims. Murder, war and politics are not fundamentals of any worship and shouldn’t be.

There may be Muslims who say that my words are unIslamic, they cannot judge me, just as we cannot judge one another. Europe is an amazing world with its history and its landmarks, that won’t be changed by this idea that Islam is taking over. These Muslims who say that, should go fix their own countries.
Your fear is justified, but I am muslim and I am not a terrorist and I hate the thought of knowing there are those who have allowed Islamic representation to come to this.

Anonymous said...

Hello Anonymous Muslim Troll,

Your dawah falls on deaf ears here.

Your false pedophile 'prophet' Mohammed - and his sad sick followers through the ages - have enforced the idea of ABROGATION which holds that the final ideas and words of Mohammed completely overrule the initial ideas and words of Mohammed.

The Koran is organized by size of verse rather than time periods, so Mohammed's initial ideas and words are interspersed with his final ideas and words - which confuses non-Muslims who fail to understand that ALL Muslims MUST follow the final ideas and words.

Now, it just so happens that the initial ideas and words are ever so slightly 'peaceful' sounding whereas the final ideas and words mandate Muslims to wage eternal war, murder, rape, and mayhem against non-Muslims. Period.

Now, being a Muslim 'religious' scholar, you categorically know what I say to be true which is why you yourself state to infidels, "Your fear is justified."

You also know that any Muslim who publicly contradicts Mohammed's jihad as expressed in his last words is an Islamic hypocrite - the very worst sinner who will face an ummah-wide death sentence to be enforced anywhere in the world at will by any Muslim with full Muslim honor in the service of Satanic Allah and his Sharia Law state.


"Da‘wah or Dawah (Arabic: دعوة‎) usually denotes the preaching of Islam. Da‘wah literally means "issuing a summons" or "making an invitation", being the active participle of a verb meaning variously "to summon" or "to invite" (whose triconsonantal root is د ع ى). A Muslim who practices da‘wah, either as a religious worker or in a volunteer community effort, is called a dā‘ī, plural du‘āt. A dā‘ī is thus a person who invites people to understand Islam through a dialogical process, and may be categorized in some cases as the Islamic equivalent of a missionary, as one who invites people to the faith, to the prayer, or to Islamic life.[1] Da'wah activities can take many forms. Some pursue Islamic studies specifically to perform Da'wah. Mosques and other Islamic centers sometimes spread Da'wah actively, similar to evangelical churches. Others consider being open to the public and answering questions to be Da'wah. Recalling Muslims to the faith and expanding their knowledge can also be considered Da'wah."