Bernard Lewis


Bernard Lewis : biography

May 31, 1916 –

The article received significant press coverage though the day passed without any incident.August 22 coverage:

  • Sydney Morning Herald, August 26, 2006.
  • The Guardian, August 9, 2006.
  • The Register, August 23, 2006.
  • National Review, August 10, 2006.
  • Jerusalem Post August 22, 2006.
  • Toronto Star, August 12, 2006.
  • , ABC News Blotter, August 21, 2006.
  • .

In his 2009 book, Juan Cole responded that there was no evidence to suggest that Iran "had been working assiduously on a nuclear weapon for fifteen years." He also takes issue with Lewis’ suggestion that Ahmedinejad "might deploy this weapon against Israel on August 22, 2006":


Bernard Lewis was born to middle-class Jewish parents in Stoke Newington, London. He became interested in languages and history while preparing for his bar mitzvah.

Lewis graduated in 1936 from the School of Oriental Studies (now SOAS, School of Oriental and African Studies) at the University of London with a B.A. in history with special reference to the Near and Middle East; and earned his Ph.D. three years later, also from SOAS, specializing in the history of Islam., Department of Near Eastern Studies, University of Princeton, retrieved May 26, 2006. Lewis also studied law, going part of the way toward becoming a solicitor, but returned to study Middle Eastern history. He undertook post-graduate studies at the University of Paris, where he studied with the orientalist Louis Massignon and earned the "Diplôme des Études Sémitiques" in 1937. He returned to SOAS in 1938 as an assistant lecturer in Islamic History.

During the Second World War, Lewis served in the British Army in the Royal Armoured Corps and as a Corporal in the Intelligence Corps in 1940–41, before being seconded to the Foreign Office. After the war, he returned to SOAS, and in 1949, at the age of 33, he was appointed to the new chair in Near and Middle Eastern History.Lewis (2004), pp. 3–4

In 1974, aged 57, Lewis accepted a joint position at Princeton University and the Institute for Advanced Study, also located in Princeton, New Jersey. The terms of his appointment were such that Lewis taught only one semester per year, and being free from administrative responsibilities, he could devote more time to research than previously. Consequently, Lewis’s arrival at Princeton marked the beginning of the most prolific period in his research career during which he published numerous books and articles based on the previously accumulated materials.Lewis (2004), pp. 6–7 In addition, it was in the U.S. that Lewis became a public intellectual. Upon his retirement from Princeton in 1986, Lewis served at Cornell University until 1990.

Lewis has been a naturalized citizen of the United States since 1982. He married Ruth Hélène Oppenhejm in 1947 with whom he had a daughter and a son before the marriage was dissolved in 1974.

In 1966, Lewis was a founding member of the learned society, Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA), but in 2007, he broke away and founded Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA) to challenge MESA, which the New York Sun noted as "dominated by academics who have been critical of Israel and of America’s role in the Middle East.", Annie Karni, New York Sun, November 8, 2007 The organization was formed as an academic society dedicated to promoting the highest standards of research and teaching in Middle Eastern and African studies, and related fields, with Lewis as Chairman of its academic council.

In 1990 the National Endowment for the Humanities selected Lewis for the Jefferson Lecture, the U.S. federal government’s highest honor for achievement in the humanities. His lecture, entitled "Western Civilization: A View from the East," at NEH Website . Retrieved January 22, 2009. was revised and reprinted in The Atlantic Monthly under the title "The Roots of Muslim Rage."Bernard Lewis, The Atlantic Monthly, September 1990. His 2007 Irving Kristol Lecture, given to the American Enterprise Institute, was published as .