The Chutzpah of Bernard Lewis


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A small group of Middle East studies academics, led by Bernard Lewis, have formed a new professional group, the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa, according to InsideHigherEd. Their stated reasons for establishing the group are “the increasing politicization of these fields, and the certainty that a corrupt understanding of them is a danger to the academy as well as the future of the young people it purports to educate.” Funny, that, because Lewis, from his perch at Princeton, is probably the country’s greatest practitioner of Mideast studies in the service of politics. A few of Lewis’ greatest hits:

  • Participated in a pre-9/11 “study of ancient empires, sponsored by [Donald] Rumsfeld’s office, to understand how they maintained their dominance,” according to the Times.

  • Became one of the earliest and most public proponents of war with Iraq soon after 9/11, writing op-eds for the Wall Street Journal, including “A War of Resolve” and “Time for Toppling.”

  • In a series of personal meetings after 9/11, helped disabuse Dick Cheney of “his former skepticism about the potential for democracy in the Middle East,” according to Time.

  • Earlier this year, received standing ovation after defending the Christian crusades in his speech accepting the Irving Kristol Award at the American Enterprise Institute.

The new association rounds out its apolitical “Academic Council” with U.S. News columnist Fouad Ajami, National Review writer Victor Davis Hanson, and former Secretary of State George Schultz.

—Justin Elliott

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