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When Muslims Leave the Faith

by Daniel Pipes  •  August 6, 2020  •  Wall Street Journal

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In the West, conversions involving Islam appear to be a one-way street in its favor. Famed new believers include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Keith Ellison, and Sinéad O'Connor, as well as flamboyant flirts like Prince Charles, Michael Jackson and Lindsay Lohan. Also, there are about 700,000 African-American converts and their descendants.

But, in fact, it's a two-way street. Indeed, born Muslims who leave Islam have a far greater impact than do converts to Islam.

To begin with, some numbers: In France, around 15,000 Muslims convert annually to Christianity, according to a 2007 estimate. About 100,000 American Muslims abandon Islam each year, reports a 2017 Pew Research Center survey. This amounts to 24 percent of all Muslims in the United States, with Iranians disproportionately represented. These numbers roughly counterbalance those of non-Muslims converting to Islam.

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How Fares Western Civ?

by Daniel Pipes  •  Fall 2020  •  Academic Questions

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Eliminating courses on Western civilization ranks as one of the many radical changes in the American university over the last few decades. Symbolically, the shift began in January 1987, when Jesse Jackson led Stanford University students who, in a farcical demonstration with deep implications, shouted "Hey-hey, ho-ho, Western culture's got to go."

And go it did. Those students, writes Stanley Kurtz in The Lost History of Western Civilization, not only succeeded "to dismantle Stanford's required course on the history and great works of Western Civilization ... but [they] helped set off a 'multiculturalist' movement that swept away Western Civilization courses at most American colleges and set the terms of our cultural battles for decades to come."

Western civ courses matter because they help the intelligent citizen and voter understand three topics: how things came to be; what works and what does not; and where one fits into the world. Their abandonment leaves tomorrow's leaders less capable.

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Explaining Israel's Timid Security Establishment

by Daniel Pipes  •  June 27, 2020  •  Israel Hayom

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We who argue for Israel Victory watched with dismay as Qatar's government threatens Israel with ending its financial donations to Gaza, insinuating that Hamas will resume its incendiary balloon attacks. Where, we wonder, are those extraordinary armed forces that defeated three states in six days, pulled off the Entebbe raid, and heisted Iran's nuclear archive?

Israel's security establishment, it turns out, has a Doppelgänger, an uncelebrated, defensive, reticent counterpart that emerged after the 1993 Oslo accords to deal with West Bank and Gaza Palestinians, the one that needed 50 days to end a minor military operation in 2014 and cannot stop burning balloons coming out of Gaza. The classic IDF seeks to win but the Palestinian one just wants calm.

What accounts for its timidity? Here are six factors:

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Jerusalem, Jordan, and the Jews

by Daniel Pipes  •  June 22, 2020  •  Israel Hayom

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The Palestinian Authority and Hamas famously deny any historic or religious connection of Jews to Jerusalem. To cite one example, Ikrima Sabri, the city's mufti, announced in 2001 that "There is not the smallest indication of the existence of a Jewish temple on this place in the past. In the whole city, there is not even a single stone indicating Jewish history." This bizarre fraud, Itamar Marcus has explained, is based on a simple switch: Take authentic Jewish history, "documented by thousands of years of continuous literature": cross out the word Jewish and replace it with Arab.

So much for the rejectionist Palestinians. What about the moderate and sober Jordanian government, Israel's long-time, discreet partner; what says it? Amman does not go so far as to deny any Jewish connection, but it too makes a hash of history.

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Deciphering Bidenese

by Daniel Pipes  •  June 15, 2020  •  Gatestone Institute

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There is a brand-new game: decipher the rhetoric of Joe Biden, former vice president and presumptive Democratic nominee for president.

American politics has never had a top politician who (apparently suffering from dementia) makes such wandering, incoherent, garbled comments. The game he has inspired has two simple rules: (1) prune the gibberish and (2) add what is needed to make sense.

Here is an example on an important topic, taken from a long interview with New York Times editors on December 16, 2019. Speaking about Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Biden said:

He has to pay a price for whether or not we're going to continue to sell certain weapons to him. In fact, if he has the air defense system that they're flying F-15s through to see how they can try to figure out how to do it.

Come again? Sure, read a second and even a third time. I'll wait. A bit murky, no? But with the magic of the above two rules, it does make sense. I dropped the fluff and added the implicit bits (in square brackets), resulting in an intelligible new version:

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This Time, the Far-Left Surge Might Succeed
(As It Is Doing In Europe)

by Daniel Pipes  •  June 14, 2020  •  Washington Times

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Street riots, eminent liberals fired, the Democratic party veering sharply Left: these trace directly back to events of fifty years ago.

"The 1960s" (which in fact ran from 1965 to 1975) was a decade of massive change, a rebellion against the stability, growth, and (yes) smugness of the immediate post-World War II era, 1945-65. The 60s are now remembered primarily as a time of youthful rebellion, of sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll. University hippies in Volkswagen microbuses decorated with peace signs represented the vanguard; mellow students followed. Woodstock represented the heights and Altamont Free Concert the depths. British poet Philip Larkin memorialized this spirit in a famous poem with its first line, "Sexual intercourse began/In nineteen sixty-three/(which was rather late for me)."

But it was not all fun, the leftists of yore adopted classic themes of Marxism-Leninism, focusing on imperialism and insisting that the Western wealth came from plundering the rest of the world. The imperialist system, with its perpetual drive for new markets on which to dump its industrial surplus, stood as humanity's central evil; the war in Vietnam supremely represented its rapaciousness.

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Khaled Abou El Fadl on Judeo-Christian Values
Academic Malfeasance

by Daniel Pipes  •  June 7, 2020  •  American Thinker

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Khaled Abou El Fadl, who revels in the title of Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Professor in Islamic Law at the UCLA School of Law, has a big theory. As explained in a talk on April 21, 2018, titled "What It Takes for Islamic Intellectuals Today" (at 37:34-42:05; transcript here), his breakthrough idea goes like this:

As the number of Muslims in the West grew in the late twentieth century, the Christian Right sought a way to counter this "dangerous" new population and devised the idea of promoting supposed Judeo-Christian values to which it connected all things modern – "from cars to planes to electricity to computers, everything." The beauty of this myth lay in helping the Christian Right create an alliance with its "natural allies" in what Abou El Fadl calls the Zionist Right.

And who were the key figures in this alliance? Why, none other than Robert Spencer of JihadWatch.org and myself.

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A Reluctant but Unhesitating Vote for Donald Trump

by Daniel Pipes  •  June 4, 2020  •  Newsweek

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If I don't say so myself, my #NeverTrump bona fides are pretty impressive.

I watched in dismay as I helped the Ted Cruz presidential campaign, seeing Republican primary voters select Donald Trump out of a field of 16 viable candidates and make him president-elect. I signed an open letter committing to "working energetically to prevent the election of someone so utterly unfitted" to the presidency and wrote many articles lambasting Trump. I left the Republican party on his nomination and voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson in the general election. After the election, I hoped for Trump's impeachment and President Mike Pence.

In 2016, two matters primarily worried me about Donald Trump: his character and his policies.

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De-platforming in Daily Life

by Daniel Pipes  •  June 1, 2020  •  Washington Times

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Complaining about censorship ahead of the 2020 elections, President Trump signed an executive order that encourages the Federal Trade Commission to probe whether Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and other social media are biased against conservatives.

Such an order raises questions about de-platforming – excluding those who have the wrong politics on grounds that they are haters – to a new and welcome level. But it is mistake to focus only on companies dealing with information and communications, as is the case now. Yes, the educational system, traditional media, social media, non-profit organizations, and advertisements are problematic. Of course, information has vast importance; but de-platforming has quietly and ominously crept much further and affects much of daily life.

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What Would Ben-Gurion Do?

by Daniel Pipes  •  May 28, 2020

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My Middle East Forum colleague Nave Dromi disagrees with the negative view I expressed of Israel's annexing some parts of the West Bank.

My six-part argument, as spelled out here, boils down to dismissing annexation as too-expensive symbolism. It brings no rewards but creates problems everywhere one looks. Therefore, I conclude, annexation obstructs her and my goal of an Israel Victory and Palestinian defeat.

Nave's six-part argument, as presented here, holds that annexation advances that same goal: It puts territorial pressure on Palestinians. It guarantees security to all. It gives Israel the initiative. It seizes the moment. It has President Trump's reliable backing. It enjoys wide support within Israel.

I accept most of these points, other than two: those about guaranteeing security (nothing on the ground changes) and about Trump (his volatile views cannot be predicted). But, for the sake of argument, I'll even grant the one about Trump.

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Siraj Wahhaj Seeks My Validation

by Daniel Pipes  •  May 12, 2020

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Ironically, the same Islamists who disdain and attack infidels also seek their approbation, as shown by the lists they compile of illustrious non-Muslims – mostly Westerners – who praise Muhammad, Islam, or Muslims. The admiring views of such prominent figures as Gandhi, Gibbon, Goethe, Napoleon, George Bernard Shaw, Toynbee, and H.G. Wells are a special source of pride.

Well, imagine my surprise to be added to this list by Siraj Wahhaj, the founder and imam of Brooklyn's Al-Taqwa mosque. He's a leading figure of American Islam. In June 1991, for example, he enjoyed the distinction of delivering the first-ever Islamic prayer in the U.S. House of Representatives. Less salubriously, he was listed in 1995 as one of the "unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators" in the attempt to blow up New York City monuments.

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A Reply to My Critics

by Daniel Pipes  •  May 10, 2020  •  JNS

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As Aristotle long ago recognized, virtue is the midpoint between extremes. And I found myself smack at that midpoint in recent days.

I published a modest article suggesting six reasons why the Jewish state should not extend its sovereignty to a Palestinian-majority territory. (Confusingly, the New York Times titled the May 7 online version "Annexing the West Bank Would Hurt Israel" and the slightly different May 8 print version as "Annexation Would Hurt Israel.")

I hardly expected the article to arouse high emotions. It deals with a tactical issue distant from philosophical foundations, principles, or ideology. I did not condemn annexation in principle but only argued that now, given today's circumstances, the tradeoff looks unfavorable compared to the status quo. I evaluated the topic from a mainstream friend-of-Israel vantage point. I did not instruct Israelis what to do but addressed fellow Americans.

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Annexing the West Bank Would Hurt Israel

by Daniel Pipes  •  May 7, 2020  •  New York Times

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Thanks to the Trump administration's "Peace to Prosperity" plan, the topic of Israel annexing parts of the West Bank has moved from the fringe to the center of Israeli politics. The apparent noninvolvement of the United States State Department in the issue has prompted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to state his confidence that annexation will happen within "a few months," or before the American presidential election in November.

I am not someone who frets over the Israeli "occupation" of the West Bank: in my view, the Palestinians long ago would have enjoyed self-rule had they stopped murdering Israelis. I ignore the Clinton Parameters, the former American president's compromise formula to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict two decades ago. Contrarily, I do encourage Israeli steps that signal the Palestinians that the conflict is over, and they lost.

Despite these views, I strongly oppose Israel annexing any of the West Bank, and I do so for six main reasons.

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Finding Europe's Hidden Conservatives

by Daniel Pipes  •  April 21, 2020  •  Gatestone Institute

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Does Europe have any conservatives? That is, believers in individual responsibility, national independence, free markets, a single law for all, the traditional family, and maximum freedom of speech and religion.

Seemingly not. Politicians called conservative – such as Angela Merkel of Germany Jacques Chirac of France, and Fredrik Reinfeldt of Sweden – are often in reality mild leftists, as are their parties. One might conclude that conservatism is defunct in its homeland.

One would be wrong. A substantial conservative movement exists and is growing in Europe. It is hiding in plain sight, obscured by being tarred as populists, nationalists, extreme-right, or even Neo‑Nazis. I call this group by another name: civilizationists, acknowledging that (1) they focus on preserving Western civilization and (2) they forward some distinctly un-conservative policies (such as increased welfare and pension payments).

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Erdoğan's Turkey Is Not Coming Back

by Daniel Pipes  •  April 20, 2020  •  National Interest

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From 2002, when Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AK Party reached power, until about 2016, a debate raged among Turkey-watchers in the United States: Is Ankara still an ally?

Actually, due to nostalgia, that debate dragged on long after it was obvious that Turkey no longer was an ally. That issue, happily, is now closed; NATO membership notwithstanding, nobody seriously makes this claim anymore.

But a new debate has opened up: Is Turkey's hostility a temporary aberration or the long term new normal? Is it more like Necmettin Erbakan's coming to power in 1996-97 and Mohammed Mursi's in Egypt in 2012-13, or more like the Iranian Revolution, now in its fifth decade?

Opinion in Washington is divided. Broadly speaking, the president, Defense, State, and business interests argue for it being an aberration; they expect this unfortunate interlude to end with a cheery return to the good old days. Congress and most analysts argue for long-term change; that's my argument here.

To understand the American debate, one needs to go back to those good old days. The period from Turkey's accession to NATO in 1952 to the key election of 2002 lasted a round 50 years; U.S.-Turkish relations, though not without hitches (most notably mutual fury over Cyprus in 1964), were simple and good: Washington led, Ankara followed.

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