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Merkel's Historic Folly

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

Comment

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 they continue passively to accept whomever turns up, even if they lack skills and come from 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 latter 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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From "Not a Crook" to "Not a Liar": A Potted History of Political Denials

by Daniel Pipes  •  June 9, 2017

It's a handy rule-of-thumb that when a politician – usually in a press conference, where he's annoyed repeatedly with the same question about his judgment – announces that he is or is not something, well, he is that thing.

Richard Nixon set the gold standard in 1973 when he announced, "I'm not a crook," which the Watergate scandal then established he exactly was. Now, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House deputy press secretary, referring to Donald Trump, kept this tradition alive when she yesterday refuted James Comey's Senate testimony by stating, "I can definitively say the president is not a liar."

In the 44 years from not a crook to not a liar, a number of other politicians have inadvertently acknowledged their faults by using the same or similar words. Here's a sampling of their denials, in chronological order:

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The Six-Day War: Personal Recollections

by Daniel Pipes  •  June 5, 2017

For my interpretation of some consequences of the fighting in June 1967, see today's article, "What If: Fifty Years After the Six-Day War."

On a personal note, I have three memories of those six days, which I experienced at the age of 17 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

First, I watched television late into the evening the day the war broke out, June 5, and went to sleep thinking that Egyptian aircraft had bombed Tel Aviv and that the Jewish state was in grave peril. That's because, in the words of the authoritative Middle East Record1967, "In view of the dearth of information given by Israeli spokesmen during the first day of the war, there was a preponderance of news from Arab sources in the Western press on 6 June." Only the next day did I learn how the Egyptian air force had been destroyed in place. It was a unique moment of shock and exhilaration.

Second, my graduation from Commonwealth School took place on June 8, in the midst of the war.

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What If: Fifty Years After the Six-Day War

by Daniel Pipes  •  June 5, 2017  •  Washington Times

Israel's military triumph over three enemy states in June 1967 is the most outstandingly successful war of all recorded history. The Six-Day War was also deeply consequential for the Middle East, establishing the permanence of the Jewish state, dealing a death-blow to pan-Arab nationalism, and (ironically) worsening Israel's place in the world because of its occupation of the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Focusing on this last point: how did a spectacular battlefield victory translate into problems that still torment Israel today? Because it stuck Israelis in an unwanted role they cannot escape.

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The Paradoxical Peril of Warm U.S.-Israel Relations

by Daniel Pipes  •  June 2, 2017  •  Wall Street Journal

Despite not moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, ​President Trump's evident affection for Israel during his recent visit understandably cheered Israelis after eight years of cool relations with President Obama. Alas, nothing is simple in the Arab-Israeli conflict: A look at historic patterns suggests that, paradoxically, Israel does best with an Obama-style level of tension with Washington.

The explanation of this paradox starts with the fact that all American administrations since 1973, regardless of which party holds the presidency, are convinced the Arabs are ready for peace with Israel. This problem has been especially acute since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994. American presidents consistently ignore the authority's revolutionary nature. In this spirit, after a meeting with PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, Mr. Trump deemed him a "strategic partner" for Israel and "ready for peace."

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Florida Museum Celebrates the Loss of Hagia Sophia

by Daniel Pipes  •  May 29, 2017  •  National Review Online

I rubbed my eyes in disbelief seeing a wall plaque at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens in Jacksonville, Florida, explaining an artifact in its "Ink, Silk, and Gold: Islamic Treasures from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston" exhibit.

The plaque that caught my eye praises the Ottoman Empire for having turned the Hagia Sophia church into a mosque. Its words:

In addition to their renowned patronage of architecture, which yielded the conversion of the Church of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a congregational mosque, Ottoman sultans and elites supported flourishing textile and ceramics industries.

(What does "yielded the conversion" even mean? A search engine finds seven uses of this phrase in the English language, all connected to science.)

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