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Israel Is the Least-Stolen Land
Letter to the Editor

by Daniel Pipes  •  June 19, 2022  •  Wall Street Journal

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To the Editor:

Only one country was purchased rather than conquered. That country is Israel.

In "'Native Land Acknowledgments' Are the Latest Woke Ritual" (op-ed, June 11), Eugene Kontorovich elegantly ridicules the budding leftist requirement that public statements be prefaced by a ceremonial nod to the peoples who once inhabited roughly our territories, thereby honoring their supposed moral superiority.

He notes in passing that "conquest and migration have shaped the entire world." So far as I know, only one country was purchased rather than conquered. Ironically, that country is also the one most accused of having "stolen" the land it now controls. That country is Israel.

The making of the Jewish state represents perhaps history's most peaceable in-migration and state creation. Zionist efforts long had a near-exclusively mercantile, not military, quality. Jews lacked the power to fight the Ottoman or British empires, so they purchased land, acre by acre, in voluntary transactions.

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review of Sa'udi Policies towards Migrants and Refugees

by Daniel Pipes  •  Summer 2022  •  Middle East Quarterly

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As the subtitle non-too-subtly suggests, Kéchichian and Alsharif have an apologetic mission to fulfill in this study published under the auspices of a Saudi monarchical institution. Contra the kingdom's reputation for closed borders and parsimony, they argue, it has welcomed and spent lavishly on refugees. The authors make clear that they wrote Sa'udi Policies to counter what they consider to be unfair criticisms, quoting many critics in a hurt tone. As one of those critics, one who has written repeatedly on this topic since 2013, this reviewer takes keen interest in seeing the counter-argument. It goes like this:

As a non-signatory to the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 follow-up Optional Protocol, Riyadh does not label refugees as such but rather as "brothers and sisters." Due to this semantic difference, the outside world is blinded to the country's generous and far-sighted immigration and integration policies. For example, rather than cram refugees into isolated camps to fester, the Saudi authorities sprinkle them around the country, give them education and work opportunities, naturalize them, and turn them into productive Saudi subjects. Kéchichian and Alsharif, both non-academic specialists on Saudi Arabia, assert very substantial numbers of such refugees coming from many countries, such as 500,000 Rohingyas and 2.5 million Syrians.

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review of The Ottoman World: A Cultural History Reader, 1450–1700

by Daniel Pipes  •  Summer 2022  •  Middle East Quarterly

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The editors, both on the faculty at the University of Chicago, have selected 46 texts from a 2½-century period to provide a sourcebook on Ottoman culture, self-consciously getting away from what they call the usual "state-centric" approach to the empire. The abundance of information about political topics has, they note, made it "too easy to represent Ottoman history as one limited to battles, imperial campaigns, conquests, complex institutions, careers of notables, luxurious palaces, and the like." They hope the present volume, with its translations primarily from Turkish but also from Armenian, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, and Persian, offers an enticing sample of the "alternative riches" the Ottomans have to offer.

Unsurprisingly, a large percentage of the materials derive from law courts, for where else does one find more everyday stories written down for posterity? The sections on a heretic, on children and youth, on prostitutes and pimps, on nocturnal activities, on non-Muslims, and on public health mostly derive from Islamic court records, while those on Jewish converts to Islam and marriage and divorce among Jews derive from Jewish court records.

Those inclined to see Ottoman culture as dull will no doubt find confirmation in this anthology.

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review of Narrative Traditions in International Politics

by Daniel Pipes  •  Summer 2022  •  Middle East Quarterly

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Struck by the contrast between the stale Turkey she had read about before reaching the country and the fresh one she found on arrival, Vuorelma turned this discrepancy into a book, where she minutely takes up this purported problem of media, political analysis, and public opinion. A more intelligible version of her title might read, "A Century of Foreigners Stereotyping Turkey."

The author, a researcher at the University of Helsinki, gives her point of view away already on p. 3 by citing Edward Said and then never, ever deviating from his party line. For example, the texts she relies about Turkey on "are read not only as descriptions of the international but also as descriptions of the Western self." She takes far more interest in "the loose epistemic community of journalists, scholars, diplomats, and politicians" than in Atatürk and Erdoğan.

Vuorelma has an ax to grind and, like too many academics, does not let petty facts get between her and the grinding stone.

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review of Muslims and the Making of Modern Europe

by Daniel Pipes  •  Summer 2022  •  Middle East Quarterly

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Arguing against conventional thinking, Greble asserts that "Southeastern Europe was central to the European experience of encountering Islam." In so doing, she focuses on a small and peripheral population over about seventy years. Even granting the validity of this thesis, the grandiose title misleadingly conjures up fourteen centuries of Muslim-Christian interaction. A title like "Balkan Muslims, 1878-1949: A History of Small-Scale Complexity" would far more accurately capture the topic of her book.

But is the thesis convincing? Were the Muslims of southeastern Europe really more central to the European experience of Islam than the impact of Indians on Great Britain, Algerians on France, and Turks on Germany? In larger historical terms, did they have a greater effect than the Church over fourteen centuries? Or is this the special pleading of a young scholar, an associate professor of history and Russian and East European studies at Vanderbilt University, for her specific area of research?

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review of Legacy of Empire: Britain, Zionism and the Creation of Israel

by Daniel Pipes  •  Summer 2022  •  Middle East Quarterly

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A haughty and persistent sneer dominates Thompson's book, starting with the very title, which turns Zionists into bit actors in their own drama. Thompson's approach turns a serious and deep topic into a puerile copybook exercise. This self-described historian of British colonialism reduces Middle Eastern passions to London-based drawing-room dilettantism.

Illustrations of this unfortunate approach abound; consider some quotes from the author's introduction:

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review of Israel's Moment

by Daniel Pipes  •  Summer 2022  •  Middle East Quarterly

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In an era when book after book by credentialed frauds flush with jargon and making spurious claims cross this reviewer's transom, Herf's study is a relief: true scholarship, with extensive research, clear prose, and sensible, convincing arguments.

A distinguished university professor in history at the University of Maryland, Herf has studied in archival detail the context in which the State of Israel was born, focusing especially on the "moment" of May 1947 to early 1949. He offers four core conclusions about this extended process, three of them simple and one complex: (1) The Soviet Union had far more importance than the United States. (2) U.S. officialdom opposed Israel with a fervency and extent not hitherto realized. (3) The Left supported the creation of Israel far more than the Right. In support of this last point, himself a liberal supporter of Israel, and therefore somewhat besieged in the university environment, Herf's delight nearly sings in chapter 3, "American Liberals and Leftists Support Zionist Aspirations, 1945-1947."

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review of The End of Two Illusions: Islam after the West

by Daniel Pipes  •  Summer 2022  •  Middle East Quarterly

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Your reviewer approached this book with some wariness, having previously been referred to by the author as "an infamous charlatan." Sure enough, deploying his eccentrically florid version of English, the Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University has this to say about me in The End of Two Illusions:

With Bernard Lewis, Orientalism has officially exited the realm of colonial reason and entered the twilight zone of its unreality—it is now positively delusional, just like 'the West' it defends and its habitual hobby horse of 'civilization,' which it takes out of the closet for yet another fantasy ride. In this hallucinatory project, Bernard Lewis is aided by an even sorrier gang of minions like Daniel Pipes on one side and self- loathing native informants like Fouad Ajami on the other.

Lewis, Ajami, and I are riding a habitual, hallucinatory hobby horse? What is he talking about?

if you wish to read trash, read Said's original and skip the work of his sorry minion Dabashi.

But, getting serious. Dabashi devotes his volume to answering a question: "Whence this hatred, wherefore this bizarre fixation with making Muslims, just for the accident of being Muslims, the enemy of reason, sanity, and civilization?"

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review of Covering Muslims: American Newspapers in Comparative Perspective

by Daniel Pipes  •  Summer 2022  •  Middle East Quarterly

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The authors, both professors at U.S. universities, open this book with an open, innocent question: "Is the media's coverage of Muslims and Islam as negative as critics claim?" They then immediately show their bias by acknowledging that "The title of our book, Covering Muslims, is a conscious echo of Edward Said's Covering Islam, which first appeared in 1981. ... Forty years later, our quantitative analyses do little to challenge Said's conclusions, underscoring the long-standing nature of this problem."

Having started out with a predetermined conclusion, Bleich and van der Veen proceed to prove that conclusion by relying on computers to crunch "all 256,963 articles that mention Muslims or Islam in 17 national and regional US newspapers over a 21-year period" from January 1996 to December 2016. They first "demonstrate precisely how negative [mentions of Muslims or Islam] are compared to the average newspaper article," then "carry out four types of comparison: across groups, across time, across countries, and across topics" by looking at nearly another 1½ million articles dealing with related topics.

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National Character, Odds and Ends

by Daniel Pipes  •  May 31, 2022

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I have written several articles on national character and have more in the works. Here are some notable statements on the subject, in chronological order:

Joe Biden, on the occasion of National Caribbean-American Heritage Month: "We honor the generations of Caribbean Americans who have built our Nation, shaped our progress, and strengthened our national character." (May 31, 2022)

Ian Buruma makes the case against applying national character analysis to Putin's invasion of Ukraine. He takes as his proof text an article in the Times Literary Supplement by the Ukrainian writer Oksana Zabuzhko who interprets this event through the prism of "Dostoevskyism," meaning "an explosion of pure, distilled evil and long suppressed hatred and envy." Buruma compares this to the American analyses of the World War II period (which I looked at in detail at "The Great Inquiry into National Character").

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Do Tyrants Heed Their Minions? A Look at Putin and Saddam

by Daniel Pipes  •  May 23, 2022  •  Washington Times

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Three days before Russia's President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, he assembled his top security staff for a televised charade. At it, he quizzed each in turn if they approved of his plan to recognize two areas of eastern Ukraine as independent states. Squirming and sometimes fumbling, they dutifully all bowed to their supremo's will.

But it need not always be like this when an absolute, brutal dictator meets his advisors to discuss a major issue, especially if the conference takes place in private. In such a case, they might speak their minds and influence his decision.

We know this because a rare, if not unique, recording of such an encounter exists. The event took place in July 1986 in Baghdad under the auspices of Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein. Amatzia Baram and Ban al-Maliki recount it in a recent Journal of the Middle East and Africa article, "Speaking Truth to Power in a Dictatorship: Secular Ideology versus Islamic Realpolitik - A Fierce Dispute in Saddām's Iraq." No Middle Eastern regime, they note, "left us such a detailed and lively document of a cardinal debate, at the very heart of a ruling regime, over such a crucial topic."

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Take Vladimir Putin's Nuclear Threats Seriously
Letter to the Editor

by Daniel Pipes  •  May 6, 2022  •  Wall Street Journal

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In "Putin Really May Break the Nuclear Taboo" (Declarations, April 30), Peggy Noonan argues persuasively that we need to take Vladimir Putin's threats seriously. Americans' assumptions about the impossibility of deploying nuclear weapons ("That won't happen! It has never happened!") are incorrect.

Ms. Noonan reaches this conclusion by looking at the poor Russian military performance in Ukraine and at Mr. Putin's nihilistic character. May I suggest a third, historical factor? Mr. Putin is a Soviet man; he lived his first 39 years in the Soviet Union, rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the KGB foreign intelligence and publicly rued the U.S.S.R.'s demise. He was shaped by and continues to reflect Soviet doctrines.

One of those doctrines concerns the use of nuclear weapons. Almost exactly 45 years ago, my father, Richard Pipes, revealed this doctrine in a Commentary magazine article, "Why the Soviet Union Thinks It Could Fight & Win a Nuclear War."

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The Case for Banning Burqas and Niqabs

by Daniel Pipes  •  April 23, 2022  •  Focus on Western Islamism

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A short new book argues for permitting women to wear tent-like full-body coverings (sometimes but erroneously called veils) in public places. Raphael Cohen-Almagor, a self-described "poet, human rights and peace activist," as well as a professor at the University of Hull, offers sundry reasons for this surprise conclusion, including:

The ban on the burqa and the niqab is wrong in principle, is counter-productive and illiberal. It fails to respect freedom of religion which is a basic human right. It undermines the agency of women it claims to emancipate. ... and it offends the dignity of women who voluntarily opt to wear this garment for religious reasons. ... It undermines the agency of women it claims to emancipate. ...The ban that was designed to liberate women actually increases their isolation.

Cohen-Almagor devotes much of The Republic, Secularism and Security: France versus the Burqa and the Niqab (Cham, Switzerland: Springer, 2022) to refuting arguments heard in France for the ban on burqas and niqabs in public: these garments oppress women and diminish their dignity, they challenge French identity and unity, they are offensive, they cause sensory deprivation and vitamin D deficiency, and they undermine public safety and order.

On this last topic, Cohen-Almagor uses me as his foil:

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Fellow Conservatives, Please Reject Conspiracy Theories

by Daniel Pipes  •  April 22, 2022  •  Dispatch

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Matthew Continetti writes in his newly published book, The Right: The Hundred Year War for American Conservatism, that conservative rhetoric of late "has often veered into apocalypticism and conspiracy theory."

Indeed, it has. Specifically, three conspiracy theories have damaged the American conservative movement during the past year and a half, diverting Republican Party attention, derailing it from enduring principles, and diminishing its electoral appeal among young voters. To get back on track, Republicans must stop alleging that the 2020 presidential election was a "fraud," that COVID-19 vaccinations are "dangerous," and that the U.S. government "lied" about developing banned bio-weapons in Ukraine.

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Putin's Invasion Scrambles the West

by Daniel Pipes  •  March 30, 2022  •  Washington Times

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How has the Ukraine crisis affected political life in the West? Deeply but contradictorily. Vladimir Putin's invasion wakened sleeping populations to eternal power realities, exacerbated leftist de-platforming, and bizarrely enhanced his appeal on the Right.

Power realities: A century-long peace following the Napoleonic wars left Europeans mentally unprepared for the carnage of World War I; similarly, the 77-year peace after World War II bred a faulty European assumption that trade and diplomacy could solve the continent's problems. Military strength was seen as anachronistic as slavery. Slogans such as "There is no military solution" and "War never solved anything" prevailed.

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