Bernard Lewis citations
Date de naissance: 31. mai 1916
Bernard Lewis, né le 31 mai 1916 à Stoke Newington, un quartier dans Londres, est un historien, professeur émérite des études sur le Moyen-Orient à l'université de Princeton, spécialiste du Moyen-Orient, notamment de la Turquie, et plus généralement du monde musulman et des interactions entre l'Occident et l'Islam. Il est l'auteur de nombreux ouvrages de référence sur le sujet. De citoyenneté britannique à sa naissance, il a aujourd'hui également acquis la nationalité américaine et israélienne.
Outre ses activités académiques, Bernard Lewis est un intellectuel engagé dans le combat politique. Il est connu pour sa défense d'Israël, l'apologie de l'interventionnisme des militaires dans la politique turque et pour sa négation du génocide arménien pour laquelle, en France, il fut condamné au civil, en vertu de l'article 1382 du code civil pour « faute » et pour avoir causé un dommage à autrui[pertinence contestée]. Il fut conseiller des services secrets britanniques lors de la Seconde Guerre mondiale[réf. nécessaire], consultant du Conseil de sécurité nationale des États-Unis, conseiller de Benyamin Netanyahou alors ambassadeur d'Israël à l'ONU [réf. nécessaire] et reste aujourd'hui un proche des néo-conservateurs,.
Citations Bernard Lewis
„Les ressentiments actuels des peuples du Moyen-Orient se comprennent mieux lorsqu’on s’aperçoit qu’ils résultent, non pas d’un conflit entre des États ou des nations, mais du choc entre deux civilisations. Commencé avec le déferlement des Arabes musulmans vers l’ouest et leur conquête de la Syrie, de l’Afrique du Nord et de l’Espagne chrétiennes, le "grand débat", comme l’appelait Gibbon, entre l’islam et la chrétienté s’est poursuivi avec la contre-offensive chrétienne des croisades et son échec, puis avec la poussée des Turcs en Europe, leur farouche combat pour y rester et leur repli. Depuis un siècle et demi, le Moyen-Orient musulman subit la domination de l’Occident – domination politique, économique et culturelle, même dans les pays qui n’ont pas connu un régime colonial […]. Je me suis efforcé de hisser les conflits du Moyen-Orient, souvent tenus pour des querelles entre États, au niveau d’un choc des civilisations.“
„In the Islamic world, from the beginning, Islam was the primary basis of both identity and loyalty. We think of a nation subdivided into religions. They think, rather, of a religion subdivided into nations. It is the ultimate definition, the prime definition and the one that determines, as I said, not only identity, but also basic loyalty. And this is quite independent of religious belief. In Islam, there isn't or rather, there wasn't until recently any such thing as the church, in the Christian sense of that word. The mosque is a place of worship. It's a building, a place of worship and study. And in that sense, it is the equivalent of the church. But in the sense of an institution with a hierarchy and its own laws and usages, there was no such thing in Islam until very recently. And one of the achievements of the Islamic Revolution in Iran has been to endow an Islamic country for the first time with the equivalents of a pope, a college of cardinals, a bench of bishops and, above all, an inquisition. All these were previously unknown and nonexistent in the Islamic world.“
„In the 19th century you had two important events in Europe: the unification of Italy and the unification of Germany, and both of these had a tremendous impact in the Arab world. They saw in this, a model for what they should be able to do, and they tried for a long time to do it. Nasserism is probably the final phase of that movement and, as you know, it failed. Now all the Arab states are independent but no union of Arab states has ever worked. They always fall apart through internal dissension.“
„Ultimately, the struggle of the fundamentalists is against two enemies, secularism and modernism. The war against secularism is conscious and explicit, and there is by now a whole literature denouncing secularism as an evil neo-pagan force in the modern world and attributing it variously to the Jews, the West, and the United States. The war against modernity is for the most part neither conscious nor explicit, and is directed against the whole process of change that has taken place in the Islamic world in the past century or more and has transformed the political, economic, social, and even cultural structures of Muslim countries. Islamic fundamentalism has given an aim and a form to the otherwise aimless and formless resentment and anger of the Muslim masses at the forces that have devalued their traditional values and loyalties and, in the final analysis, robbed them of their beliefs, their aspirations, their dignity, and to an increasing extent even their livelihood.“
„We think of the defeat and collapse of the Soviet Union as a Western victory in the Cold War, and some of us credit President Reagan more particularly with that victory. For Osama bin Laden and his followers, this was a Muslim victory in the jihad. And if one looks at what actually happened, this is not an implausible interpretation. It was, after all, the Taliban in Afghanistan that drove the Red Army to defeat and collapse. And, as he put it, "We have now dealt successfully with the more deadly, the more dangerous of the two infidel powers. Dealing with the soft, pampered, and degenerate Americans will be easy."“
„What we have now come to regard as typical of Middle Eastern regimes is not typical of the past. The regime of Saddam Hussein, the regime of Hafiz al Assad, this kind of government, this kind of society, has no roots either in the Arab or in the Islamic past. It is due and let me be quite specific and explicit it is due to an importation from Europe, which comes in two phases.Phase one, the 19th century, when they are becoming aware of their falling behind the modern world and need desperately to catch up, so they adopt all kinds of European devices with the best of intentions, which nevertheless have two harmful effects. One, they enormously strengthen the power of the state by placing in the hands of the ruler, weaponry and communication undreamt of in earlier times, so that even the smallest petty tyrant has greater powers over his people than Harun al-Rashid or Suleyman the Magnificent, or any of the legendary rulers of the past.Second, even more deadly, in the traditional society there were many, many limits on the autocracy, the ruler. The whole Islamic political tradition is strongly against despotism. Traditional Islamic government is authoritarian, yes, but it is not despotic. On the contrary, there is a quite explicit rejection of despotism. And this wasn't just in theory; it was in practice too because in Islamic society, there were all sorts of established orders in society that acted as a restraining factor. The bazaar merchants, the craft guilds, the country gentry and the scribes, all of these were well organized groups who produced their own leaders from within the group. They were not appointed or dismissed by the governments. And they did operate effectively as a constraint.“
„Muslim fighters are commanded not to kill women, children, or the aged unless they attack first; not to torture or otherwise ill-treat prisoners; to give fair warning of the opening of hostilities or their resumption after a truce; and to honor agreements.... At no time did the classical jurists offer any approval or legitimacy to what we nowadays call terrorism. Nor indeed is there any evidence of the use of terrorism as it is practiced nowadays.“
— Bernard Lewis