Bernard Lewis

Bernard Lewis
Bernard Lewis
  • Born: May 31, 1916
  • Died: May 19, 2018
  • Nationality: British American
  • Profession: Historian









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Quote Topics Cited
… a very lively but ill-mannered democracy States. Nations & Nationhood
A generally free democracy in Iraq would be a mortal danger to its neighbors, particularly the group of states whom we call our friends. Democracies & Republics
A much better course would be a gradual development of democracy, not through general elections, but rather through civil society and the strengthening of local institutions. Democracies & Republics
A significant disadvantage of the present system is that there is no direct relationship between the elected members and the electors … the member is only responsible to the party leadership or, worse still, to the party bureaucracy Voters, Voting & Elections
Clash of civilizations War & Peace
Constitutional democracy is a Western idea. Democracies & Republics
Democratic elements in a society by their very nature feel that they have to give their religious fundamentalist opposition freedom of expression and action, a handicap from which their fundamentalist opponents do not suffer. Democracies & Republics
For a long time in the United States, in practice if not in principle, only white, male, Protestants were born free and equal. Equality & Equal Opportunity
For believing Muslims, legitimate authority comes from God alone, and the ruler derives his power not from the people, nor yet from his ancestors, but from God and the holy law. Religion & God
History consists of facts attested to by evidence. History
I don’t like trying to predict the future. I am a historian. I have enough trouble predicting the past. History
If a ruler is just he must have acquired power properly and used it properly. Religion & God
Iran’s rulers are so fanatical and apocalyptic that even nuclear deterrence would have no meaning. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
Islam assigns four things to government: justice, booty, Friday prayer, and jihad. Religion & God
Islamic fundamentalists … had no interest in democracy except as a one-way ticket to power. Religion & God
Israel and America are the only two grievances which may be freely expressed in Arab counties. Freedom & Liberty
Modernization vastly increased the power of the state. It gave the rulers new tools—the powers of indoctrination, surveillance, and repression. Power
Moslem fundamentalist leaders are not mistaken in seeing in Western civilization the greatest challenge to the way of life that they wish to retain or restore for their people Development & Growth
Muslims have been hating us for centuries …. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
Of the first four Caliphs, three were murdered; not a very promising start. Miscellaneous
Only God has rights. People have duties. Religion & God
The Armenian movement was the deadliest of all threats. From the conquered lands of the Serbs, Bulgars, Albanians, and Greeks, they could, however reluctantly, withdraw, abandoning distant provinces and bringing the imperial frontier nearer home. But the Armenians, stretching across turkey-in-Asia from the Caucasian frontier to the Mediterranean coast, lay in the very heart of the turkish homeland—and to renounce these lands would have meant not the truncation, but the dissolution of the turkish state. turkish and Armenian villages, inextricably mixed, had for centuries lived in neighborly association. now a desperate struggle between them began—a struggle between two nations for the possession of a single homeland, that ended with the terrible holocaust of 1915, when a million and a half Armenians perished. History
The total exports of the entire Arab world, not counting oil and gas, amount to less than Finland, one tiny European country… their economies depend entirely on oil…. Sooner or later, oil and gas either be exhausted or superseded as the modern world turns to other sources of energy. When that happens, they will have nothing left. One possibility is that they will develop other forms of economic activity. Another, more likely, is that the region will lapse into insignificance. Development & Growth ;Energy
Throughout the history of the Middle East there is one Moslem principle which comes up again and again: Tyranny is preferable to anarchy. History
Turkey alone [among the Moslem nations] has formally enacted the separation of church and the state. Religion & God
We in the West tend to think of a nation subdivided into different religions. Islam sees itself as a religion subdivided into different nations. States. Nations & Nationhood
Why is the Muslim world plagued by instability, undemocratic governments, and sectarian violence? History
You [a country] cannot be rich, successful and powerful and still be loved, particularly be those who have little success, wealth or power. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
You can’t be rich, strong, and loved, particularly by those who are not rich or strong. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs