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Dhimmis No More
Christians' Trauma in the Middle East

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 2018  •  The Future of Religious Minorities in the Middle East

A new strain of thought has developed in Sunni Muslim thinking: ethnic cleansing. It's not genocide, but it involves expelling non-Sunni populations. Its spread means that non-Muslim minorities have a grim future in Muslim-majority countries; and some may have no future there at all.

I shall trace the origins of ethnic cleansing in the Middle East, note its impact especially on Christians, and consider responses to it.

To begin, let us look at the standing of non-Muslims in Muslim-majority countries before 1800.

Muslim viewed non-Muslim in two categories: monotheists recognized by Islam as adhering to a valid faith (this being mostly Jews and Christians) and polytheists (especially Hindus) lacking that recognition. The former category, our topic here, are known as People of the Book (Ahl al-Kitab).

Muslims were relatively tolerant of People of the Book - but only if they accepted becoming dhimmi (protected persons) who acknowledged the rule of Muslims and the superiority of Islam; in other words, if they accepted an inferior status. They had to pay special taxes (called jizya) could not serve in the military or the police or, more generally, exercise authority over Muslims. Sumptuary laws abounded; a Christian or Jew should walk or go by mule but not on a horse and should defer to a Muslim on the street. (Of course, actual practice differed from one country to another and from one era to another.)

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Trump's Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's Capital – What Does It Mean?

by Daniel Pipes  •  December 11, 2017

Question: On December 6, 2017, US President Donald Trump made a statement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and declaring that his administration will immediately begin the process of building an embassy in Jerusalem. What does Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital mean?

Respondents: Elliott Abrams, Daniel Pipes, Max Singer, Eytan Gilboa, Jonathan Rynhold, Hillel Frisch. Click here for the other responses. Slight changes made to the BESA Center original.

The move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem brings on a flood of thoughts. Briefly:

This completes the UN creation of Israel on Nov. 29, 1947.

Coincidentally, it came 70 years and 7 days after the UN vote. Also of note, it came 3 days shy of the centenary of British conquest of Jerusalem from the Ottomans.

It effectively recognizes pre-1967 west Jerusalem, not the whole of Jerusalem, as Israel's capital. It also leaves the ugly old consular and passport practices in place.

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The Dubai Miracle Has Become Real

by Daniel Pipes  •  December 7, 2017  •  Washington Times

The Great Recession of 2008-09 convinced me, like many other observers, that the city-state of Dubai's razzmatazz – Go skiing in the boiling heat! Gawk at the world's tallest building! – was but a desert mirage. I lambasted Dubai in a 2009 article for "hucksterism and fast talk," running a "trompe l'oeil economy," and suckering outsiders with Ponzi-scheme real estate deals. It appeared to be only a matter of time until the whole edifice collapsed.

But that did not happen. The leaders learned from their mistakes, addressed major flaws, and oversaw Dubai's roaring back bigger, bolder, and brassier than ever. To learn how this happened, I have annually visited Dubai (one of seven polities making up the United Arab Emirates, somewhat like the United Kingdom's four countries) since 2015.

There I found not hucksterism but something rarer and far more impressive: capitalism. And not just capitalism but raw, unfettered capitalism with few regulations, minimal taxes, and emasculated trade unions.

The emirate sits among some of the richest oil and rentier states in the world; nearby Qatar has a per capita annual hydrocarbon income of about US$500,000 per Qatari national. Neighboring Abu Dhabi's income per national is over $400,000.

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Accepting Europe's Anti-Immigration Parties

by Daniel Pipes  •  November 30, 2017  •  Washington Times

In a typical assessment of recent European elections, Katy O'Donnell writes in Politico that "Nationalist parties now have a toehold everywhere from Italy to Finland, raising fears the continent is backpedaling toward the kinds of policies that led to catastrophe in the first half of the 20th century." Many Jews, like Menachem Margolin, head of the European Jewish Association, echo her fear, seeing "a very real threat from populist movements across Europe."

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Why Palestinian Delusions Persist

by Daniel Pipes  •  November 13, 2017  •  Israel Hayom

In 1974, Second Lt. Hiroo Onoda of the Imperial Japanese Army was still fighting for his emperor, hiding in a Philippine jungle. He had rejected many attempts to inform him of Japan's surrender 29 years earlier. During those long years, he senselessly murdered about one Filipino and injured three others per year. Only a concerted effort by his former commander finally convinced Onoda that the emperor had accepted defeat in 1945 and therefore he too must lay down arms.

The Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza are Onoda writ large. They formally acknowledged defeat by Israel 24 years ago, when Yasir Arafat stood on the White House lawn and recognized "the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security." Trouble was, Arafat himself did not sincerely offer this act of surrender and most Palestinians rejected it.

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Italy's Apocalypse

by Daniel Pipes  •  November 2, 2017  •  Washington Times

ROME – When thinking about migrants and Islam, Italy is not a country that comes to mind.

Unlike its northern neighbors, Italy had no economic miracle that required the massive importation of labor. It lacks a deep bond to some major source of migration, such as South Asia for Great Britain. It has not experienced major acts of jihadi violence such as France has. Unlike Sweden, one does not hear tales of crazy appeasement and unlike Belgium there are no partial no-go zones. Unlike the Netherlands, no flamboyant anti-Islamic politician has emerged comparable to Geert Wilders and unlike Germany no anti-immigration party has become a significant political force.

But, no less than its northern counterparts, Italy deserves attention for it is undergoing massive changes. Arguably, they are even more pressing, far-reaching, and denied more than in the better-known countries.

For starters, there's geography. Not only does Italy's famous boot stick prominently into the Mediterranean Sea, making the country a tempting target for sea-borne illegal migrants, but Italian territory reaches into North Africa: the small island of Lampedusa, population 6,000, lies just 70 miles (113 km) off the coast of Tunisia and 184 miles (300 km) from Libya. In 2016, 181,000 migrants entered Italy, nearly all of them illegal, nearly all by sea.

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Saving NATO from Turkey

by Daniel Pipes  •  October 17, 2017  •  Washington Times

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, known as NATO, faces an existential problem.

No, it's not about getting member states to fulfill agreed-upon spending levels on defense. Or finding a role after the Soviet collapse. Or standing up to Russia's Vladimir Putin. Rather, it's about Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Islamist, dictatorial ruler of Turkey whose policies threaten to undermine this unique alliance of 29 states that has lasted nearly 70 years.

Created in 1949, NATO's founding principles ambitiously set out the alliance goal "to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of [member states'] peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law." In other words, the alliance exists to defend Western civilization.

For its first 42 years, until the USSR collapsed in 1991, this meant containing and defeating the Warsaw Pact. Today, it means containing and defeating Russia and Islamism. Of these latter two, Islamism is the deeper and longer-lasting threat, being based not on a single leader's personality but on a highly potent ideology, one that effectively succeeded fascism and communism as the great radical utopian challenge to the West.

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I Taught NATO to Stand Up to a Dictator

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

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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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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