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Articles and Blog Posts by Daniel Pipes   RSS 2.0 Feed

I Taught NATO to Stand Up to a Dictator

by Daniel Pipes  •  September 19, 2017  •  National Review Online

Comment

On May 2, 2017, a polite letter arrived from the Director of the Political Committee of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (known as NATO PA) asking whether my organization, the Middle East Forum, "might be able to host a set of meetings and discussions" for assembly members.

For those, like me, unfamiliar with NATO PA, it is "a unique specialized forum for members of parliament from across the Atlantic Alliance to discuss and influence decisions on Alliance security." Its Political Committee "focuses on all political questions concerning the security of NATO and its member and partner countries."

The Forum quickly agreed to host the meeting on Sep. 19 on Independence Mall in Philadelphia and began inviting experts to brief the 26 members of parliament from 12 countries, ranging from Norway to Turkey, Poland to Portugal. Given the centrality of Turkey to both the Syrian conflict and to the deeper issue of NATO's mission (does it fight Islamism as it once did communism?), we invited representatives of two key Turkish factions, both of them Islamist: the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the movement of Fethullah Gülen.

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The United Nations Misplaces Israel's Capital City

by Daniel Pipes  •  September 12, 2017

Many media heavyweights– the BBC, Agence France-Presse, The Guardian, New York Times, Washington Post, CTV – pretend Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel. Even the Obama White House had a hard time figuring out where that capital city might be.

But the Cartographic Section of the United Nations' Department of Peacekeeping Operations goes a step better than them all. If amateurs pretend Tel Aviv is Israel's capital, the pros at UNDPO assert that Israel has no capital at all.

That, at least, is the implication of the map it posted (dated January 2004 but only noticed by me today) which has a distinct symbol (a five-sided star in a circle) for what it terms "national capitals." For the full map, click here.

A close-up shows that Damascus and Amman both bear this five-sided star symbol, whereas no city in Israel does, notably neither Jerusalem nor Tel Aviv.

Comments:

(1) The very term "national capital" implies that the national government decides its capital. Only Israel lacks this privilege.

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Illegal Migrant Problem? Greece Offers a Solution

by Daniel Pipes  •  September 12, 2017  •  Washington Times

ATHENS – As Western states prove incapable of deporting their millions of illegal migrants – the current crisis features Italy – authorities in Greece have found a surprising and simple way to convince them to take the long route back home.

The migration crisis simmered in Greece at about 10,000 illegals arriving a year. Then, thanks to a combination of violence in Syria and welcoming words from Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2015, that number surged to 10,000 illegals a day pouring into Greece. Coming mostly from Turkey, they made their way unimpeded to such favored destinations as Germany and Sweden.

Eventually, as the borders to northern Europe clanged shut, over 62,000 migrants found themselves "stranded" (in the nomenclature of the United Nations' International Organization for Migration) in Greece. Unable to reach their destinations of choice, they could not find work or sympathy in a Greece going through economic crisis, and they refused to return to Turkey.

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Did Theodor Herzl Make the All-Time Best Prediction?

by Daniel Pipes  •  September 3, 2017

Theodor Herzl (1860-1904) wrote in his diary on Sep. 3, 1897, three days after the close in Basel of the Zionist Organization's First Zionist Congress that he had chaired:

in Basel habe ich den Judenstaat gegründet. Wenn ich das heute laut sagte, würde mir ein universelles Gelächter antworten. Vielleicht in fünf Jahren, jedenfalls in fünfzig wird es jeder einsehen.

(at Basel, I founded the Jewish State. Were I to say this in public today, I would be greeted with universal laughter. Perhaps in five years, certainly in fifty, everyone will see [the truth of] this.)

Fifty years later to the day, on Sep. 3, 1947, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) presented its Report to the General Assembly calling for the end of the British Mandate and proposed a Plan of Partition of Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state.

On Nov. 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly passed UNSCOP's plan almost without changes as Resolution 181, thereby formally recognizing "the Jewish State" that Herzl had foreseen.

This extraordinary prediction comes to mind on the 120th and 70th anniversaries of the two dates. (September 3, 2017)

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Iran vs. Turkey, the MidEast's Perpetual Rivalry

by Daniel Pipes  •  August 23, 2017  •  Washington Times

News that Iran's and Turkey's governments reached an accord on Idlib, a Syrian town now the focus of American interests, brings relations between two of the largest and most influential states in the Middle East momentarily out of the shadows.

Their rivalry goes back a half-millennium, included eleven wars, and now remains, in the words of the Washington Institute's Soner Cagaptay, the region's "oldest power game." What does the recent accord signify and how will their competition influence the region's future?

Iranian and Turkish parallels are noteworthy. Both countries have populations of 80 million. (Egypt, the region's third large country, has 96 million.) Both boast ancient civilizations, long imperial histories, tensions with Russia, and a successful avoidance of European colonialism. In modern times, each came under the rule of a ruthless modernizer after World War I, followed more recently by an even more repressive Islamist.

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Merkel's Historic Folly

by Daniel Pipes  •  August 22, 2017  •  Achse des Guten

Mr. Pipes, you have written that Angela Merkel's decision to open the border to over a million migrants in 2015 "will likely be seen as a turning point in European history." You are a historian, so, what do you mean by this expression?

I expect that when the evolution of European civilization is studied in the future, August 2015 will be seen as a key moment. The decision to allow unlimited immigration into Germany has had profound implications for Europe by raising this issue in a more acute way than ever before, creating divisions both among native Europeans who are for and against large-scale immigration and between native and new Europeans.

What basic questions do Europeans face?

Lacking sufficient children, the question is whether Europeans will continue passively to accept whomever turns up, even if without skills and comingfrom a largely hostile culture, or whether they will develop a plan of controlled immigration, selecting people around the world most suited to bring skills and fit in? Germany's decision to open the borders meant choosing the first option.

Why are relations between Europeans and Muslim immigrants so fraught with tension?

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The Most Embarrassingly Wrong Book Ever on the Middle East?

by Daniel Pipes  •  August 9, 2017  •  Washington Times

"The Middle East is the graveyard of predictions" notes the left-wing writer and editor Adam Shatz. That's partly because it's so volatile (no one in 2014 imagined the revival of an executive caliphate after eleven centuries) and it's perverse (Turkey's President Erdoğan started a near-civil war against the Kurds to win constitutional changes he does not need).

In part, too, predictions fail because of the general incompetence of the specialists in the field. Often, they lack the common sense to see what should be self-evident. Case in point: the collective swoon upon the accession of Bashar al-Assad to the presidency of Syria in 2000.

Some analysts of Syrian politics expressed skepticism about a 34-year-old ophthalmologist's ability to manage the "desolate, repressive stability" that he inherited from his dictatorial father who had ruled for thirty years. They suggested that the "deep tensions in Syrian society ... could explode after the long-time dictator's demise."

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Palestinian Rejectionism is Weakening

by Daniel Pipes  •  August 7, 2017  •  Israel Hayom

A recent poll showed that Israelis want a tougher policy toward the Palestinians. And Palestinians, beyond occasional rampaging and murdering Israelis, what do they want?

Dan Polisar of Shalem College reviewed 400 opinion polls dating from 2000 and found they hold three main views of Israel: it lacks a historical or religious justification, it is by nature aggressive, and it will soon disappear. But attitudes might be changing slightly, judging by a recent poll that suggests a growing apathy toward the rejectionist priorities of both the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas.

Conducted May 16-27 under the direction of the Washington Institute's David Pollock and implemented by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, the survey-takers asked detailed in-person questions of 1,540 Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and eastern Jerusalem.

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Academic Malfeasance: Another Mangling of Views about Islam

by Daniel Pipes  •  August 5, 2017

Michelle Sandhoff, an assistant professor of sociology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, has written a book titled Service in a Time of Suspicion: Experiences of Muslims Serving in the U.S. Military Post-9/11 (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2017). In it, she interviewed 15 Muslim service members who, according to the publisher, "talk about what it means to be Muslim, American, and a uniformed member of the armed services in the twenty-first century. These honest accounts remind us of our shared humanity."

In the book's early pages, Sandhoff devotes a long, error-rich paragraph to describing two contrary ways of seeing Islam:

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A Palestinian Victory at the Temple Mount

by Daniel Pipes  •  July 26, 2017  •  Wall Street Journal

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah Party announced Saturday that the "campaign for Jerusalem has effectively begun, and will not stop until a Palestinian victory and the release of the holy sites from Israeli occupation." Fatah demanded the removal of metal detectors and other security devices from the entrance to the Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. A week earlier two Israeli policemen were killed by terrorists who had stashed their weapons inside the mosque.

The Fatah statement was illogical and hypocritical. Many mosques in Muslim-majority countries use the same security technology to protect worshipers, tourists and police. Yet Mr. Abbas managed to force the Israeli government to remove them. He did it by deflecting attention from the policemen's murders and stoking fear of a religious conflagration with vast repercussions.

The Temple Mount crisis highlights with exceptional clarity three factors that explain why a steady 80% of Palestinians believe they can eliminate the Jewish state: Islamic doctrine, international succor and Israeli timidity.

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Churchill, Hitler, and Islam

by Daniel Pipes  •  July 24, 2017

Winston Churchill disparaged the impact of Islam on Muslims in his 1899 book, The River War:

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy."

Adolf Hitler admired Islam, as quoted by Albert Speer in his 1969 book, Inside the Third Reich:

You see, it's been our misfortune to have the wrong religion. Why didn't we have the religion of the Japanese, who regard sacrifice for the Fatherland as the highest good? The Mohammedan religion too would have been much more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?

Comments:

(1) The arch-enemies of World War II agreed in their perception of Islam as a martial faith – except that Churchill rued its "fanatical frenzy" and Hitler admired its representing the opposite of "meekness and flabbiness."

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Another Turkish Ambassador Confronts Me

by Daniel Pipes  •  July 18, 2017  •  Gatestone Institute

In February, Turkey's ambassador to Israel told this author to stay away from his country; at least he did so diplomatically. In June, Turkey's ambassador to Bulgaria treated me in a remarkably rude and undiplomatic manner.

The occasion was a talk I gave, "On Turkey and Erdoğan – a partner or a threat," for the Center for Balkan and Black Sea Studies think tank in Sofia. After mentioning my connections to and affection for Turkey, I explained that strongman President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's inability to reconcile three competing priorities — Islam, Turkey, and Erdoğan — and the resulting contradictions are likely to doom his regime. By the end of the event, Amb. Süleyman Gökçe confirmed that prediction.

He came early, sat in the front row, and jumped up when the question period began. Ominously saying of me, "we know him very well in Turkey," he went on to accuse me of cherry-picking facts and being an essentialist and an Orientalist. My record of "distortion, deflection, and delusion" prompted him to say, "I do not agree with any of the points you have raised."

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Foreword: Why Islam's Reformers are Vitally Important

by Daniel Pipes  •  July 18, 2017  •  The Challenge of Modernizing Islam: Reformers Speak Out and The Obstacles They Face

My library contains a wall of books about modern Islam. But hardly a one of them covers the topic of this important study by Christine Douglass-Williams. With all the attention paid to Islamists, who has the time or energy to devote to modernizing Muslims?

Indeed, the paucity of books on anti-Islamist Muslims symbolizes their larger predicament: they are threatened, marginalized, and dismissed as frauds.

Threats come from the Islamists, the advocates of applying Islamic law in its entirety and severity as a means to regain the medieval glory of Islam. Islamists attack modernizers with words and weapons, rightly sensing that these liberal Muslims pose a profound challenge to the current Islamist hegemony. However much they dominate today, Islamist reactionaries fully understand modernity's great appeal, not to speak of its victories over two other modern radical utopian movements, fascism and communism. They know their movement is doomed because Muslims will opt for the benefits of modern life, so they fight modernizers tooth and nail.

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Israelis Want Victory

by Daniel Pipes  •  July 12, 2017  •  Jerusalem Post

What does the Jewish Israeli public think about convincing Palestinians that they lost their century-long war with Zionism, that the gig is up? In other words, what do Israelis think about winning?

To find out, the Middle East Forum commissioned the Smith Institute to survey 700 adult Israeli Jews. Carried out on June 27-28, the poll has a margin of error of 3.7 percent.

It reveals a widespread belief that a Palestinian recognition of defeat will eventually lead to an acceptance of Israel as the Jewish state, thereby ending the conflict.

Palestinian defeat: "A peace agreement with the Palestinians will only be possible once the Palestinian leadership recognizes the fact that it has been defeated in its struggle against Israel." Overall, 58 percent of respondents agree, with opinion deeply polarized by political outlook: 69 percent on the Right concur but only 16 percent on the Left do so.

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End the False Israeli-Palestinian Parity

by Daniel Pipes  •  July 5, 2017  •  Israel Hayom

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi's decision to visit Jerusalem but not Ramallah has prompted much comment.

The expectation of equal treatment goes back to the Oslo Accords' signing in Sep. 1993, when the prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, represented his government in the handshake with Yasir Arafat, the much-despised chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. No one found it strange or inappropriate at the time but things look differently nearly a quarter century later.

It's now clear that Rabin's vanity got the better of him at that supremely high-profile event on the White House lawn. As the elected head of a democratic and sovereign government, he never should have consented to Arafat, the henchman of an unofficial, dictatorial, and murderous organization, enjoying equal status with himself.

Rather, he should have stayed aloof. Appearing together as equals created a dysfunctional illusion of equivalence that over subsequent decades became assumed, ingrained, and unquestioned. In fact, this false equivalence became even more inaccurate with time, as Israel went from one success to another and the Palestinian Authority brought on a reign of ever-deeper anarchy, dependency, and repression.

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