28 February 2011
In Jerusalem, MK Shai Hermesh, chairman of the World Jewish Congress Israel Executive, and Dan Diker, WJC secretary-general designate and director-general of WJC-Israel, hosted a dinner in honor of Princeton Professor-emeritus Bernard Lewis, 94, as part of a special gathering by the WJC Israel Executive and other select guests including members of the Knesset and leading experts on Islam and the Middle East.
Throughout his 70 years of scholarship, the Jewish scholar Lewis has published over 30 books and written more than 1,000 articles. He is considered the greatest living authority on Islam and the Middle East, and has advised numerous presidents and prime ministers throughout the world.
Dan Diker dialogued with Lewis about the most pressing challenges confronting the Middle East today in light of the current regional upheaval. On Egypt, Lewis said that the West frequently imposed its own ideas and understanding of democracy on the Muslim world although in Arab countries the notion of democracy was understood differently than in the West. He emphasized the importance of institution building and warned that immediate elections in Arab countries could result in Islamic extremists taking power.
Lewis shared moments of his personal experience and revealed aspects of the Arab world's history and culture. He told the audience stories of his own historical findings in various archives of Arab and Muslim states and shared moments of meetings with Arab leaders, past and present.
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