TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY
Mortimer Zuckerman, Bernard Lewis and
Ingebord and Ira Rennert
Henry Kissinger and AFTU chairman Jon
Israel Consul General Ido Aharoni,
Bernard Lewis and son Michael Lewis
Itamar Rabinovich and Jon Gurkoff
Bernard Lewis signs his book for Nina
Henry Kissinger, Bernard Lewis,
Mortimer Zuckerman, Harvey Krueger
Andrew T. Silverman, Henry Kissinger
and Joseph M. Silverman
Henry Kissinger Pays Tribute
To Uberhistorian Bernard Lewis
ERNARD LEWIS, who has earned
almost every honor an historian on the Middle East can hope to
accumulate in a lifetime, confessed at a dinner celebrating his
"At 96 years old I use a cane, need
hearing aids and take naps. I eat less and weigh more. I have
deteriorated physically and even mentally. There is an Israeli
expression, ad meah v’esrim, till 120. Some say
ad meah k’esrim, till 100, like 20. That sounds better."
More than 350 people applauded at the
American Friends of Tel Aviv University’s dinner Wednesday at
the Pierre Hotel. Even though he’s the Cleveland E. Dodge
Professor of Near Eastern Studies Emeritus at Princeton, Lewis
donated his magnificent 18,000-volume library to Tel Aviv
Lewis was honored on the publication
of his 33rd book, Notes on a Century: Reflections
of a Middle East Historian (Viking, 384 pages, 16 photos,
Henry Kissinger, the former
secretary of state, paid Lewis possibly the ultimate compliment:
"You are somebody to whom I listen."
Itamar Rabinovich, former
ambassador to U.S. (1993-96) and former TAU president, said that
in the Middle Ages there was a Jewish community in China that
vanished. He quoted Bernard Lewis: "Jews can survive persecution
but can’t survive being ignored."
He is currently president of the
Israel Institute, a Distinguished Global Professor at New York
University, and a Distinguished Fellow at the Brookings
He recalled a lecture Lewis gave at
the University of Michigan. A student asked, "Mr. Lewis, how can
you speak about Islam when you never lived the experience?"
Lewis answered, "By extension of your logic, sir, only fish can
teach marine biology at this institution."
Mort Zuckerman, owner of the
New York Daily News and editor in chief of U.S. News and
World Report, said in his 27 years in journalism he’s
often quoted three people: Henry Kissinger, Fouad Ajami and
"Journalism," Zuckerman noted, "is
practiced by individuals who have no ideas but have the ability
to express them."
Fouad Ajami, a senior fellow at
the Hoover Institution of Stanford University, said he was
intimidated when he first met Lewis, his professor at Princeton.
"You can call me Bernard," Lewis said.
"Okay, Professor Lewis," Ajami said.
"Where are you from," Lewis asked.
"From a forsaken place in Lebanon called Arnoun," Ajami replied.
"You should come over," Lewis said. "I have land deeds of
Harvey Krueger, chairman of TAU’s
international board of governors, told how Lewis’s books taught
him to be wary how nations teach their history. "The temptation
is often overwhelmingly strong to tell it, not as it really was,
but as we wish it to have been."
Credited with almost single-handedly
opening the international capital markets to Israeli corporate
securities, Krueger is vice chairman of Barclays Capital.
Kruger added that even Jewish scholars
invented history when they fostered the myth that during the 800
years of Muslim rule in Spain there was tolerance for Jews.
"As Bernard makes clear, Muslims would
have seen such tolerance as a sin against the holy law of Islam.
"Why manufacture this history? The
invention of Muslim tolerance gave the Jews a weapon to use
against their Christian neighbors. It’s a patently false myth to
serve a useful political purpose—history as we wish it to be."
Among the dinner guests were JLTV
president/CEO Phil Blazer, Paul Gigot, Paul Wolfowitz,
David Makovsky, Robert Satloff of the Washington Institute,
Bruce Kovner, founder of Caxton Associates, Chaim
Katzman of the Gazit Group, Jim Dubin, Jerry Levin,
Michael Shaoul, CEO of Oscar Gruss, and Ingebord and
The dinner will fund research at the
university’s Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African
Studies, a think tank with which Lewis has been associated for
Bernard Lewis said he was grateful
"for those who have spoken and particularly for those who have