Sunday, February 27, 2011


I highly recommend David Horovitz' interview in last Friday's Jerusalem Post with 94 year-old Bernard Lewis, the dean of Islamic scholars who has written seminal histories of the Muslim world.  Besides demonstrating just how current and relevant and eloquent one can be at 94, Lewis gives many reasons for taking the cheerleading coming from many Western commentators for the imminent birth of Arab democracies with a huge grain of salt.

In contrast to many of the cheerleaders, Lewis actually has in-depth knowledge and understanding upon which to base his opinions, rather than simply the press of deadlines and the adulation of people who want him to say what they think.  Lewis does not contend that the Arab world must be stuck with authoritarian dictators such as the ones they have had in recent years.  Rather, he understands why their cultures may not be receptive to Western-style democracies and he points to other non-oppressive models of governance more likely to be attractive to them.  In other words, he respects their history while being realistic about their status and prospects. 

One telling quote from Lewis:  "(T)he total exports of the entire Arab world other than fossil fuels amount to less than those of Finland. . ."

And another:  "I don't know how one could get the impression that the Muslim Brotherhood is relatively benign unless you mean relatively as compared with the Nazi party."

It is an interview worth reading.

1 comment:

  1. The central problem is the oft repeated falsehood that elections = democracy. This is simply not the case. Far from the first, elections are the last element of democratic success (after the rule of law, independent judiciary, etc).

    While it has gotten little attention, I suspect that people will eventually realize that Mubarak was the bulwark holding back the Egyptian army's total domination. Only time will tell.