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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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Trump's Middle East Policy Revealed?

by Daniel Pipes  •  December 29, 2016  •  Israel Hayom

During one of his "thank-you" tour stops, Donald Trump announced on Dec. 1 (at 1:28:13-1:29:15):

We will pursue a new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past. We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments, folks. Remember – $6 trillion, 6 trillion [spent] in the Middle East, 6 trillion. Our goal is stability not chaos, because we want to rebuild our country [the United States]. It's time, it's time. We will partner with any nation that is willing to join us in the effort to defeat ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism – okay, we have to say the term, have to say the term. In our dealings with other countries, we will seek shared interests wherever possible and pursue a new era of peace, understanding, and good will.

The key passages are "We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments," "We will partner with any nation that is willing to join us in the effort to defeat ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism," and "We will seek shared interests wherever possible."

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A Palestinian Defeat is Good for All

by Daniel Pipes  •  December 28, 2016  •  JNS.org

Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was photographed on Dec. 21 carrying a copy of Nothing Less than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History by John David Lewis (Princeton University Press, 2010). In that book, Lewis looks at six case studies and argues that in them all "the tide of war turned when one side tasted defeat and its will to continue, rather than stiffening, collapsed."

That Netanyahu should in any way be thinking along these lines is particularly encouraging at this moment of flux, when Sunni Arab states focus as never before on a non-Israeli threat (namely the Iranian), Obama's leaving Israel in the lurch at the U.N. Security Council, and insurgent politics disrupt across the West. In other words, the timing's exactly right to apply Lewis' argument to the Palestinians. Actually, Israel successfully pursued a strategy of forcing the taste of defeat on its enemies through its first 45 years, so this would be a return to old ways.

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Two Bullies, Putin and Erdoğan, Try Friendship

by Daniel Pipes  •  December 23, 2016  •  Australian

The assassination on Dec. 19 in Ankara of the Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, raises some major geopolitical issues: Will this act of violence break relations between the two countries, isolate Turkey, or – counterintuitively – improve their ties? And does this murder affect the Middle East and the world beyond?

Turks and Russians have a long and complex history that starts with the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453 and the Russian dream to win it back for Orthodox Christianity. The two states fought twelve major wars in the 3½ centuries between 1568 and 1918, had a flurry of good relations under Atatürk and Lenin which went south with Stalin, improved substantially in 1991 upon the Soviet Union's dissolution, then subsequently plummeted (2015) and revived (2016).

Generally, Russians have enjoyed the whip hand. They won most wars, occupied most land, and came away with better terms in treaties. Turks long ago realized their need of Western support to fend off Russia: thus, they won support from a 4-power coalition in mid-nineteenth century, the Central Powers in World War I, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) during and after the Cold War.

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Minimize Middle East Mistakes

by Daniel Pipes  •  December 8, 2016  •  Boston Globe

All 177 foreign embassies located in Washington, D.C. are no doubt attempting to read the tea leaves and figure out what President-elect Donald Trump's foreign policy will look like. But his inconsistencies and contradictions render this nearly impossible.

Therefore, rather than speculate, I'll focus on what U.S. policy in one region, the Middle East, should be, starting with some general guidelines and then turning to specifics.

Given that this is perennially the most volatile area of the world, the goal is modest: to minimize problems and avoid disasters. The prior two presidents failed to achieve even this, and did so in opposite ways. George W. Bush tried to do too much in the Middle East: recall his goals of nation-building in Afghanistan, bringing freedom and prosperity to Iraq, establishing democracy in Egypt, and resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict – every one of which spectacularly flamed out. Reacting against Bush's "imperial overstretch," Barack Obama did the reverse, withdrawing prematurely from conflicts, drawing red lines he later abandoned, declaring a fantasy "pivot to Asia," and granting nearly free reign to Kremlin ambitions.

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Europe's Epochal Elections

by Daniel Pipes  •  December 7, 2016  •  Washington Times

"The novelty and magnitude of Europe's predicament make it difficult to understand, tempting to overlook, and nearly impossible to predict. Europe marches us all into terra incognita." That's how I closed an article ten years ago on the topic of Islam's future in Europe. Now, thanks to elections in France and Austria, an answer is emerging; Europeans appear not ready to "go gentle into that good night" but will "rage, rage against the dying of the light."

True, the elites, as symbolized by Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, remain in deep denial about the issues of immigration, Islamism, and identity. What I call the 6 Ps (politicians, press, police, prosecutors, professors and priests) refuse to acknowledge the fundamental societal changes and enormous tensions their policies are creating. But – and this is the news to report – the masses are starting to make their views heard not just in futile protest but dramatically to change their countries' direction.

The French center-right political party, the Republicans, just held its first-ever U.S.-style primary for the position of president of the country. In the first of two rounds, seven candidates, including a former president (Nicholas Sarkozy) and two former prime ministers (Alain Juppé and François Fillon), vied to place in the top two slots.

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UK Internet Provider O2 Blocks Me

by Daniel Pipes  •  November 13, 2016

O2, the second-largest mobile telecommunications provider in the United Kingdom, has banned my website, ostensibly only to those under 18 years of age but in fact to everyone using O2. Here's what you find when you land on DanielPipes.org:

The fine print reads: "To prove your age you'll need to have your credit card handy. Click Continue below or call our free automated service on 61018." In other words, you have to go to immense trouble to read or see my work, something presumably few internet surfers will bother to do. (This is particularly odd when one recalls that O2 already has the credit card of nearly every one of its customers.)

In contrast, O2 makes available without having to prove anything no end of Islamist and related websites, including such anti-Zionist delights as Al-Muntada Trust, the Palestinian Forum in Britain, and Friends of Al-Aqsa.

O2 is a subsidiary of Telefónica, the giant Spanish multinational with annual revenues of over €50 billion and assets worth about €125 billion. So far as I can tell, no other division of Telefónica has banned me in this way.

In response to this censorship, I resorted to the O2 complaint page on Nov. 3, Nov. 8, and Nov. 9, asking each time that it "immediately unlock my website." Each time, I received back an acknowledgment form but then heard nothing further.

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