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The Key Issue of Hamas vs. Israel
May 27, Global Review (Germany)

U.S. Policy toward the Hamas-Israel War: A Debate
May 17, "The Debate", France 24

Israel's Policy Should Be Victory
May 16, L'Informale

Turkey and Europe: What's Ahead?
March 23, Poland In

Biden's Emerging Foreign Policy
February 19, L'Informale

Predicting the Biden Administration in the Middle East
December 1, Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy

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Bibi, Thank You for Your Service

by Daniel Pipes  •  June 10, 2021  •  Washington Times

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Following the example of Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu, many of his supporters vilify the three conservative Israeli party heads who rejected his leadership in favor of what is called the Change government. Despite being a long-time (he and I first met in 1983) admirer of the prime minister, I commend Naftali Bennett, Avigdor Liberman, and Gideon Sa'ar for their principled actions. They deserve acclaim, not insults.

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Israelis Want Victory, Preferably without Paying the Price

by Daniel Pipes  •  June 8, 2021  •  Israel Hayom

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Israelis show an ambivalence between wanting to achieve victory over Hamas and a reluctance to pay the cost of this victory, a survey of Israeli opinion shows. This points to the intellectual and political leadership needed to educate the public about this complex issue.

(Midgam Research & Consulting conducted the survey for the Middle East Forum following the recent conflict with Hamas. It asked 22 questions in Hebrew or Russian on May 27-31 of 503 Jewish Israeli respondents. The poll has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.)

Looking back on the eleven days of fighting in May 2021, Jewish Israelis feel frustrated. Despite persistent claims of success by the Israel Defense Forces, only one-third believe that their side won the fighting and only a quarter expect that the IDF broke Hamas' will to continue fighting. The great majority, in other words, expect further rounds of unprovoked attacks by Hamas on the country's civilian population.

Looking to the future, 82 percent agree that "There can be no appeasing Hamas; only by defeating it unequivocally can we bring this conflict to an end"; and the same percentage concurs more generally on the importance "for Israel to defeat its enemies," not just Palestinians. Likewise, 70 percent agree that "There can be no deals with terrorist organizations, only defeat. Israel must use all its military, diplomatic and economic means to crush Hamas' will to continue fighting."

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Who Won, Israel or Hamas?

by Daniel Pipes  •  June 7, 2021  •  Jerusalem Post

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Who won the recent round of fighting between Hamas and Israel? The war of words that followed the air battles finds pro-Israel voices deeply divided and anti-Israel ones claiming a famous Hamas victory. But it's too early to tell.

On the pro-Israel side, for example, Efraim Inbar and Dan Schueftan argue for Israel's success based on the pain Hamas experienced. Doron Matza, Seth Frantzman, and Hanan Shai argue for its failure based on non-military issues, such as uniting Palestinians against Israel and finding international sympathy. Israel's government claims things went according to plan while its opponents on the Right, such as Itamar Ben Gvir and Gideon Sa'ar, knock the ceasefire as a "grave surrender" and "an embarrassment."

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Give War a Chance
Arab Leaders Finesse Military Defeat

by Daniel Pipes  •  Summer 2021  •  Middle East Quarterly

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When Saddam Hussein's chief spokesman met with the U.S. secretary of state on the eve of the Kuwait War in January 1991, Tariq Aziz said something remarkable to James Baker. "Never," an Iraqi transcript quotes him, "has [an Arab] political regime entered into a war with Israel or the United States and lost politically."[1]

Elie Salem, Lebanon's foreign minister during most of the 1980s and a noted professor of politics, concurred:

The logic of victory and defeat does not fully apply in the Arab-Israeli context. In the wars with Israel, Arabs celebrated their defeats as if they were victories, and presidents and generals were better known for the cities and regions they had lost than for the ones they had liberated.[2]

They exaggerate slightly, for the loss to Israel in 1948-49 by the Syrian, Egyptian, Iraqi, and Jordanian armies did cost those regimes heavily with three of them falling and one barely surviving.[3] This exception aside, military loss usually does not damage defeated Arab rulers. Indeed, disaster on the battlefield can be politically useful, and not just against Israel or the United States but also in intra-Arab conflicts and with Iranians, Africans, or Europeans. In the sixty-five years since 1956, military losses have hardly ever scathed Arabic-speaking rulers and sometimes benefited them.

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review of The Prophet's Heir: The Life of Ali ibn Abi Talib

by Daniel Pipes  •  Summer 2021  •  Middle East Quarterly

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This reader admits to certain expectations on opening a book published by Yale University Press and written by a Distinguished Professor of International Relations at the Near East South Asia Strategic Studies Center of the National Defense University. The center, it bears noting, is a U.S. Department of Defense unit "focused on enhancing security cooperation" between Americans and regional "foreign and defense policy professionals, diplomats, academics, and civil society leaders."

Those expectations primarily concern scholarly objectivity; one does not expect to find a devout Shiite Muslim tract. That, however, defines The Prophet's Heir, an apologia for the key figure of Shiism, one of the most important personages of Islamic history, and the cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, Islam's prophet.

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review of Faces of Muhammad: Western Perceptions of the Prophet of Islam from the Middle Ages to Today

by Daniel Pipes  •  Summer 2021  •  Middle East Quarterly

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Asserting that "Muhammad has always been at the center of European discourse on Islam," Tolan finds that "Muhammad occupies a crucial and ambivalent place in the European imagination ... alternatively provoking fear, loathing, fascination, or admiration." Indeed, views of him are "anything but monolithic," ranging from the satanic to the most positive.

Tolan's nine chapters look at instances of this phenomenon over 800 years, starting with Crusader stories and ending with such twentieth century scholars as Louis Massignon and W. Montgomery Watt. Tolan, a professor of history at the University of Nantes in France, makes no attempt to sketch a complete account but offers separate case studies, some thematic (Muhammad as idol or as fraud), others geographical (Spain, England) or varied in outlook (Enlightenment, Judaism).

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review of Conversion to Islam in the Premodern Age

by Daniel Pipes  •  Summer 2021  •  Middle East Quarterly

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The editors commissioned and assembled no less than 57 of what they term "some of the most vivid and neglected [primary-]sources" on conversions to Islam during the premodern period, 700-1650. The geographic coverage extends from West Africa to Indonesia, with an emphasis on the Middle East and especially Syria and Iraq, a reflection of both the Middle East's centrality in Islam and the sources available. Translations into English are from languages as varied as Armenian and Malay; each is followed by suggestions for further reading.

The scholarship is exemplary, providing a sober and literate survey of a key topic of Islamic history. Reading the excerpts one after another, from here and there, relentlessly moving forward in time, provides extensive information on circumstances, motives, legal implications, personal changes, social impact, and more.

But beyond those specifics, the collection leads to an inescapable overall impression of betrayal and oppression: almost always, the convert implicitly realizes that. as he joins what the editors candidly call "the hope of joining God's 'winning team'," he leaves his former co-religionists in the lurch. In the Geniza, for example,, the convert was usually known as a "criminal" (Heb. poshe'a).

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Harvard's Worst Class Ever

by Daniel Pipes  •  May 10, 2021  •  Washington Times

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"The worst class ever": that's how Nathan Pusey, Harvard's then-president, described my undergraduate cohort of 1971.

With a half century's leisure to contemplate that bitter judgment, I've concluded that he was just about right. Of course, one can't be sure, as no one can know all of Harvard's 385 graduating classes. I can assert, however, that ours was not just feckless in college – what Pusey observed and condemned – but in the fifty years since, when it actively joined in the degradation of American higher education and culture.

Though a blink in time, our collegiate years of 1967-71 witnessed the most far-reaching changes since the founding of Western higher education at the Università di Bologna in 1088. We entered a liberal university in 1967 and left a radicalized one four years later. Consider the innovations: pass-fail courses, student representatives on tenure committees, politicized "studies" departments and majors, relevancy the new yardstick. In addition, student life was transformed through co-ed housing, co-ed nude swimming, and an end to the dress code, ROTC, and parietals. (As an experiment, ask someone under 70 what parietals means.)

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Can the Koran Solve Israel's Political Impasse?

by Daniel Pipes  •  April 22, 2021  •  Israel Hayom

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Here's a novel idea to resolve Israel's increasingly painful political impasse.

The crux of the problem lies in the fact that one of Benjamin Netanyahu's potential coalition partners, the Religious Zionist Party (RZP) headed by Bezalel Smotrich, refuses to support him should Netanyahu rely in any way on the Islamist Ra'am party to reach a majority of 61 in Israel's parliament, the Knesset. Yet without both the RZP and Ra'am in his coalition, Netanyahu cannot reach 61 seats. Thus the impasse.

So far, Smotrich's rejection of Ra'am has been absolute and unconditional, based on the fact that Ra'am rejects the very existence of the Jewish state of Israel. To quote from its 2018 charter, the party calls Zionism a "racist, occupying project," rejects allegiance to the Jewish state, and demands a right of return for Palestine refugees. Reasonably enough, Smotrich fears that legitimizing Ra'am in any way will lead to a host of dire consequences for Israel. He stands resolutely on this point.

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The Future of U.S. Higher Education
A Few Stars, Many Satellites

by Daniel Pipes  •  March 21, 2021  •  Wall Street Journal

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I strolled through Harvard University recently on what should have been a busy Friday morning. The solitude was striking, with once-lively routes deserted and nearly all libraries and classrooms shut, along with sports facilities, public halls and museums. Hardly any buildings, including dormitories, showed signs of life. Even scientific laboratories had only skeletal crews. It's a great time to find a parking space.

Buildings are locked to the public. A university ID is required to enter. This reminded me of the time in 1984 when, on a lark, I tried to enter the high-rise that houses Moscow State University, only to be carded by Soviet apparatchiks and refused entry.

Nothing in my nearly seven decades' knowledge of Harvard (which started with preschool in 1952) prepared me for this lonely ramble. It prompted me to ponder the four existential challenges facing universities:

• The internet. The Western university dates to the founding of the University of Bologna in 1088. It remains an essentially medieval institution, with scholars educating students clustered in their immediate presence. Although "massive open online courses," cutely known as MOOCs, haven't generally taken off, a massive reliance on Zoom instruction has finally proved the internet's potential to disrupt the dominant, archaic model.

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Fighting and Hugging in the Middle East

by Daniel Pipes  •  March 19, 2021  •  Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA)

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Consider three episodes over a century:

In March 2019, the Syrian jihadi groups Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and National Liberation Front clashed, leading to about 75 deaths;[1] two months later, they joined forces to fight Syria's central government.[2] By October, they were fighting each other again.[3]

In 1987, Saddam Hussein and Hafez al-Assad, the dictators of Iraq and Syria, were mortal enemies; yet, when they met at an Arab League summit, they "were seen walking together and joking."[4]

During World War I, Armenians and Azeris fought each other and then, in what historian Tadeusz Swietochowski calls a "switch from killing to embraces. ... remarkably, in the midst of the intercommunal fighting, there began to circulate the idea of Transcaucasian federalism, the regional union of Georgians, Armenians, and Azerbaijanis" which evolved into the Transcaucasian Federation of 1921-22.[5]

As these examples suggest, kaleidoscopic coalitions and enmities are one of the Middle East's most distinctive political features. Only full-time specialists can keep track of civil wars in Libya, Yemen, and Syria – and they rely on complex tools.[6]

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review of The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Middle Eastern and North African History

by Daniel Pipes  •  Spring 2021  •  Middle East Quarterly

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Most readers picking up a 723-page book titled The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Middle Eastern and North African History will, like me, expect a rigorous and systematic survey of developments in the region since the late 1970s from Morocco to Afghanistan, from Turkey to Sudan. Well, if that happens to be your expectation, dear reader, skip this volume.

Ghazal and Hanssen have patched together a nearly random collection of 33 essays. For starters, the first 15 of them predate the late 1970s. Sure, history needs background, but a chapter on "Fiscal Crisis and Structural Change in the Late Ottoman Economy" does seem awfully remote from contemporary issues. "A War over the People: The Algerian War of Independence, 1954–1962" is only half so distant chronologically but, surely, it could have been incorporated in the chapter on contemporary Algeria. Oh wait, there is no chapter on contemporary Algeria. ...

"Counterterrorism and Counterinsurgency in the Neoliberal Age" disappoints no less than its title suggests it will. One excerpt: "Knowledge production and the incorporation of colonial knowledge into apparatuses of waging war would also be significant facets of liberal counterinsurgencies."

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"Godless Saracens Threatening Destruction":
Christian Responses to Islam and Muslims

by Daniel Pipes  •  Winter and Spring 2021  •  Middle East Quarterly

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Harvard's Counter Teach-In, 50 Years Later
How a student disruption prefigured the extremism of today's college campuses

by Daniel Pipes  •  March 2021  •  Commentary

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Fifty years ago, some friends and I had the audacity to sponsor what we called the "Counter Teach-In: An Alternative View." It took place at Harvard University on March 26, 1971, and argued in favor of American involvement in the Vietnam War – a position roughly as outrageous then on campus as arguing now that Israel should defeat the Palestinians.

Opponents of the war disrupted the event. In doing so, they took the first step towards the cancel culture that has overtaken campus life, with faculty and students alike now being investigated by star chambers before being fired or expelled for the sin of holding the wrong views. Similarly, the strong words and weak actions of Harvard's leadership foreshad­owed cowardly conduct of university administrators who speak bravely but act with pusillanimity.

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Muslim Life in 2021, as Predicted in 1921

by Daniel Pipes  •  February 25, 2021  •  Gatestone Institute

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When Lothrop Stoddard (1883-1950) is still recalled, it is as a prominent racist who had a major but malign influence on the budding field of international relations, who acted as theoretician for the Ku Klux Klan, and who contributed the concept of Untermensch (sub-human) to the Nazis.

Stoddard, however  enjoyed a high and favorable profile during the 1920s. He had earned a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University and traveled widely. President Warren Harding praised him and F. Scott Fitzgerald obliquely referenced him in The Great Gatsby.

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For a listing of original stories concerning non-Muslim women with Muslim men, starting in September 2019, please click here.

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