The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Lewis on Patai

There have been a few looks at the book "The Arab Mind" since Seymour Hersh's New Yorker piece came out explaining its influence on neo-cons and others in the US government, but this column in the Jordan Times perhaps has the most amusing anecdotes:

I remember first reading Patai's book as a college junior in a class taught by Bernard Lewis, whose own Arab-bashing bibliography is linked on to this very title. Lewis himself had a few Arab sexual anecdotes he would trot out in learned lectures for the amusement of his students. The one I remember best is that the Arabic word for revolution, thawra, comes from the verb thaara, meaning to stir up, but which he found to have an obscure secondary meaning, to become sexually aroused. Therefore, Lewis would say with his mumbly chuckle, the idea for an Arab revolution is to have an orgy.

Bernard Lewis: perhaps a great "Ottomanist," but a baaaaad arabist.