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A Frank Exchange of Views with Turkey's Ambassador to Israel
February 21, Begin-Sadat Center Conference

American Historian: Trump Does Not Look at the Muslim Brotherhood Like Obama; I Expect It Will Be Banned
February 10, Al-Watan (Egyptian daily)

Trump executive order 'a great fumble.'
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Smoking Out Islamists via Extreme Vetting

by Daniel Pipes  •  Spring 2017  •  Middle East Quarterly

Donald Trump issued an executive order on Jan. 27 establishing radically new procedures to deal with foreigners who apply to enter the United States. Building on his earlier notion of "extreme vetting," the order explains that

to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including "honor" killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.

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Erdoğan to Me: Stay Out of Turkey

by Daniel Pipes  •  February 22, 2017

I participated yesterday in a conference about the eastern Mediterranean at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) just outside Tel Aviv; and because Tel Aviv is the diplomatic center of Israel, its events attract a good number of diplomats. Yesterday was no exception, with a foreign minister and other diplomats from several eastern Mediterranean countries, including Albania, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, and Turkey.

My talk surveyed the role of Islamism in the region. In the question-and-answer period, Turkey's newly-appointed ambassador, Kemal Ökem, vigorously protested points I had made about his country. I defended these, then challenged Ökem (in a video that can be viewed here):

Pipes: I started going to Turkey in 1972. I studied Turkish, not very successfully, but I did study it. I've gone back many times. And at this point, I dare not go back to Turkey because I am critical, as you may have heard, of the government and, in particular, I supported the July 15th coup [a position] which is absolutely an outrage in Turkey. And so, I dare not go back to Turkey. And so, let me ask you, Mr. Ambassador, would it be it safe for me to go to Turkey and spend some time there or just go through the airport? You have a great airline that I would love to use but I dare not use it. Would I be safe going to Turkey?

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A White House Initiative to Defeat Radical Islam

by Daniel Pipes and Christopher C. Hull  •  February 20, 2017  •  Washington Times

Who is the enemy? It's been over 15 years since 9/11 and still this fundamental question rattles around. Prominent answers have included evil doers, violent extremists, terrorists, Muslims, and Islamists.

As an example of how not to answer this question, the Obama administration convened a Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Working Group in 2010 and included participants who turned up such gems as: "Jihad as holy war is a European invention," the caliphate's return is "inevitable," Sharia (Islamic law) is "misunderstood," and "Islamic terrorism is a contradiction in terms ... because terrorism is not Islamic by definition." The result? The group produced propaganda helpful to the (unnamed) enemy.

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Linda Sarsour, The Left's Latest Star

by Daniel Pipes  •  February 3, 2017  •  Washington Times

What to make of Linda Sarsour of Brooklyn, lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against President Trump's immigration order and the new, seemingly ubiquitous symbol of the hard Left-radical Islam alliance?

The Obama White House designated her a "champion of change." New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio sought her endorsement. Vermont's Senator Bernie Sanders used her as a surrogate in his presidential campaign. She served as a delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

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Academic Malfeasance: Nine Errors in Three Pages

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 29, 2017  •  History News Network

Here we go again: Another professor dealing with the Middle East or Islam who can't get basic facts right.

This time, it's one Todd H. Green, associate professor of religion at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and author of The Fear of Islam: An Introduction to Islamophobia in the West (Fortress Press, 2015). The book's title reveals its contents: the usual academic pablum about Islamists as innocent dears while critics of Islamism are greedy and vicious haters.

And the worst of those critics are "professional Islamophobes," being "prominent individuals and organizations that deliberately drown out the diversity of Muslim voices and consciously manufacture and exploit the fear of Islam in a manner unprecedented in mainstream political and media circles." They are "a cadre of conservative politicians, right-wing activists and bloggers, and even disgruntled Muslims or ex-Muslims" who have available "powerful political, media, and publishing platforms" which they exploit "to generate and exacerbate Western anxieties toward the Muslim 'Other'." To top this off, they profit financially from their ugly work. (Sure, all those $20 million checks.)

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The Three-Way Option: Arab States, Israel, Palestinians

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 25, 2017  •  Israel Hayom

Foreign Affairs magazine has published a major statement from Israel's former minister of defense Moshe Ya'alon, a likely future candidate for prime minister, on his view how to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, titled "How to Build Middle East Peace: Why Bottom-Up Is Better Than Top-Down" (Jan.-Feb. 2017).

Ya'alon offers an impressive analysis of why decades of diplomacy failed and its enduring stagnation. His "bottom-up" solution contains four elements, three of which are somewhat antique bromides and one of which is an exciting, untried idea – the three-way option that I will dwell on below.

Stripped to its essentials, Ya'alon's article calls for (bolding is mine):

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An Author's Lament over Article Titles

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 21, 2017

Titles of articles (and books too, but that's a different topic) have an outsized importance in a writer's life.

They (1) stimulate reader interest or not and (2) create an expectation of the contents. A good title provokes interest and conveys the argument; a bad one bores and misleads about the topic. An excellent title remains understandable and interesting years after publication. An ideal one also attracts search-engine hits.

Problem is, while authors theoretically enjoy full control of the content of their articles (even if that's not always entirely the case in practice), titles belong to editors. Proofs are returned to authors minus titles. The author typically discovers the title on reading the published article, right along with the general public.

This can lead to authorial anguish. "No one will read it" and "That's not what I meant" are common and legitimate responses. A misguided title can make trouble for an author, as happened almost simultaneously in late 1990 to both Bernard Lewis and me.

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Bibliography – My Writings on Donald Trump

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 20, 2017

I'm a specialist on the Middle East and Islamism, but I've taken time off to offer responses to the rise of Donald Trump.

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A Conservative in the Age of Trump

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 18, 2017  •  Philadelphia Inquirer

Many conservatives who once found Donald Trump unpalatable have come around to accept him. Most famously, Mitt Romney once excoriated Trump as dishonest, "a phony, a fraud," and condemned his bullying, greed, showing off, and misogyny. After the presidential election, however, Romney praised Trump ("I look forward to the coming administration") and hoped to work for him.

This change of heart has not been limited to job applicants. The president-elect's many qualities that conservatives once condemned have disappeared down memory hole, to the point that recalling them is akin to making rude noises during a prayer service.

Instead, Republicans are in a mood of optimism, even ecstasy, celebrating Trump's unconventionality and holding him up as the only candidate who could have defeated the despised Hillary Clinton. As House Speaker Paul Ryan put it, "Trump heard a voice out in this country that no one else heard," enabling him to accomplish the "most incredible political feat" Ryan has ever witnessed.

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Is There a Palestinian People? Can It be Defeated?

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 15, 2017

"The Way to Peace: Israeli Victory, Palestinian Defeat," my article in the current issue of Commentary, has provoked criticism mainly with regard to two points: my accepting the existence of a Palestinian people and my belief that it can be defeated. My arguments:

(1) There is no such thing as a Palestinian people: Indeed, as readers note, no such people existed through the centuries. Palestine (Arabic: "Filastin") as a political unit only came into use as a Zionist triumph when imposed by the British occupiers following the issuance of the Balfour Declaration in 1917. Palestinians (Arabic: "Filastiniyun") also came into use only in the twentieth century. Jerusalem never served as capital of a sovereign Muslim state. All true.

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What Rex Tillerson Thinks

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 7, 2017

Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state-designate, is the mysterious cabinet nominee of President-elect Donald Trump's, for his long career at ExxonMobil Corporation has revealed next to nothing publicly of his views where the United States stands in the world.

A glimpse of Tillerson's views has now appeared in an obscure source: Herb Jackson of NorthJersey.com reports on the 75-minute meeting of Sen. Bob Menendez (Democrat of New Jersey and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,) with Tillerson on Jan. 5.

 Menendez recounted their conversation about U.S. relations with Turkey after Tillerson stated he hopes to "bring them back into the fold."

Menendez: "Does this mean we are willing to accept authoritarian figures and dictators as part of our foreign policy?"

Tillerson: "Well, we've dealt with dictators in the past."

Menendez: "Yeah, and we've faced the consequences of dealing with them," adding to the reporter that he found Tillerson's response to be "concerning."

Being of Cuban descent and against engagement with Cuba, Menendez grilled Tillerson on that issue

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The Way to Peace: Israeli Victory, Palestinian Defeat

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 2017  •  Commentary

Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy sadly fits the classic description of insanity: "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." The identical assumptions – land-for-peace and the two-state solution, with the burden primarily on Israel – stay permanently in place, no matter how often they fail. Decades of what insiders call "peace processing" has left matters worse than when they started, yet the great powers persist, sending diplomat after diplomat to Jerusalem and Ramallah, ever hoping that the next round of negotiations will lead to the elusive breakthrough.

The time is ripe for a new approach, a basic re-thinking of the problem. It draws on Israel's successful strategy as carried out through its first 45 years. The failure of Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy since 1993 suggests this alternative approach – with a stress on Israeli toughness in pursuit of victory. This would, paradoxically perhaps, be of benefit to Palestinians and bolster American support.

I. The Near Impossibility of Compromise

Since the Balfour Declaration of 1917, Palestinians and Israelis have pursued static and opposite goals.

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review of Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World

by Daniel Pipes  •  Winter 2017  •  Middle East Quarterly

If Jews in Muslim-majority countries have shrunk to a miniscule 50,000 souls, nearly all of them in Morocco, Turkey, and Iran, things were once different.

Indeed, until the seventeenth century Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews outnumbered the Jews of Europe. More than that, as Stillman writes in his introduction, it was in the medieval Muslim world that "many aspects of Judaism as a religious civilization were formulated, codified, and disseminated, and this includes the domains of liturgy, law, and theology."

But if the Mizrahi/Sephardi population has great importance for Judaism and for the Middle East, scholars have slighted it. Again, quoting Stillman:

Until the 1970s, there was very little academic work on the Jews of the Islamic world, and most of that was dedicated to the medieval period, and within that period to intellectual history and literature.

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This Is the Moment for an Israeli Victory

by Daniel Pipes  •  December 31, 2016  •  National Review Online

The U.S.-sponsored Israeli–Palestinian "peace process" began in December 1988, when Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat met American conditions and "accepted United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, recognized Israel's right to exist and renounced terrorism" (actually, given Arafat's heavily accented English, it sounded like he "renounced tourism").

That peace process screeched to an end in December 2016, when the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 2334. Khaled Abu Toameh, perhaps the best-informed analyst of Palestinian politics, interprets the resolution as telling the Palestinians: "Forget about negotiating with Israel. Just pressure the international community to force Israel to comply with the resolution and surrender up all that you demand."

As 28 years of frustration and futility clang to a sullen close, the time is nigh to ask, "What comes next?"

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Obama, Kerry and Netanyahu Go Visceral

by Daniel Pipes  •  December 30, 2016

How to explain the recent uproar in U.S.-Israel relations? I refer to President Barack Obama's decision to abstain at the U.N. Security Council, precisely contradicting his own views of just a few years earlier; Secretary of State John Kerry's 75-minute rant against Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu; and Netanyahu's intemperate responses, such as warning the New Zealand government that its support for the UNSC resolution amounts to a "declaration of war."

High politics of this sort is usually viewed through the lens of ideas and principles. But at times, it's better to leave all that behind and look at psychology - in other words, the basic human emotions and relations we all experience.

This level of explanation works better in this instance with all of Obama, Kerry and Netanyahu. The threesome is fed up. During his nearly ten years in office, Netanyahu has always faced a Democratic president out of sync with him. Obama is fed up with an Israeli leader who's annoyed him for eight years; ditto Kerry for 4 years.

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