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A Conversation with Bernard Lewis

Even after dropping out of my masters in Middle Eastern history, I still try not to miss anything Bernard Lewis says or writes. Here is a link to the transcript of a talk he gave recently at The Pew Forum on Religious and Public life:

Professor Lewis has that rare talent that separates the brilliant academic from the rest – he can articulate complex concepts in stunningly simple terms. He provides many insightful answers to some very current questions about Islam, Iraq and Iran – and in general his observations are possibly the most worthy of consideration of anyone making comments about the "clash of civilizations". Some ideas he presented that I found particularly interesting:

Good news is no news – Significant accomplishments have been made in Iraq, although he marvels at "our ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory."

"Licensed Grievance" – He reminds us that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is only the most journalist-accessible example of many bloody conflicts that take place on virtually the entire perimeter of the Islamic world. Quote: "it is the general conflict that is preventing us from solving the Palestinian problem, rather than the Palestinian problem that is preventing the solution of the general one."

On what’s really wrong with us: "The most vividly remembered year of my life was the year 1940. And more recently I have been thinking of 1938 rather than of 1940. We seem to be in the mode of Chamberlain and Munich rather than of Churchill."

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