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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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Israel and the Temple Mount's Five Muslim Rivals

by Daniel Pipes  •  February 7, 2021  •  Israel Hayom

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Everyone knows about the Jewish-Muslim tussle over claims to rule Jerusalem, with its Palestinian lie that Jerusalem has no role in Judaism, and also the pro-Israel rebuttal that the Koran does not mention Jerusalem.

But there's another heated, if less public, battle over Jerusalem (Arabic: Al-Quds): not about the right to rule the city, but authority over the Temple Mount (Arabic: Al-Haram ash-Sharif), the holy esplanade containing two antique and holy edifices, the Dome of the Rock (built in 691) and Al-Aqsa Mosque (705). Five Muslim parties are mainly engaged in this intricate, consequential struggle: the Palestinian Authority, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Republic of Turkey, and the Kingdom of Morocco. Each has distinctive strengths and goals.

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The Israel Lobby Is Good for America

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 25, 2021  •  JNS

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When American citizens pressure their government in favor of Israel, some foreign policy mandarins snootily condemn this as privileging an ethnic group's narrow priorities over the disinterested formulation of foreign policy. But, in fact, lobbies like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and Christians United for Israel (CUFI) actually improve U.S. foreign policy.

In the 1950s, critics of Israel blamed the "Jewish lobby" for obstructing an anti-Soviet alliance. In the 1970s, they blamed robust U.S.-Israel relations for the Arab oil boycott. In the 2000s, they blamed the Israel lobby for the Iraq war. In the 2010s, they criticized it for first obstructing and later repealing the Iran Deal. Most famously, John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen M. Walt of Harvard made the general case against pro-Israel Americans in their 2007 bestseller, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.

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An American in Search of the English National Character

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 23, 2021  •  Critic (UK)

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"The English are the most remarkable of any people that perhaps ever were in the world" wrote Scottish philosopher David Hume in 1748.[1] Prompted in part by this observation and in part by England's recent re-emergence as a distinct political entity, I wondered, "Who are the English?"

In search of an answer, I located groaning shelves of books and articles on the English national character, many written by distinguished figures. Sadly, though, their combined wisdom amounts to a massive contradiction.

The eminent historian Mandell Creighton got me started with the observation that "the English were the first people who formed for themselves a national character." He then defined its dominant motive "to have been a stubborn desire to manage its own affairs in its own way, without any interference from outside."[2]

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"Republican Mob" Was Once an Oxymoron, Now It's a Reality

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 15, 2021  •  Newsweek

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The world is fascinated by Donald Trump, but I am not. Trump is Trump, a hyper-well-known, mostly transparent and utterly mundane personality. I am fascinated by his supporters, those astonishing Republicans who chose a sketchy and flamboyant real estate developer to be president of the United States in 2016, then stuck close by him through thick and thin, and now endorse his claim of an international plot to steal the 2020 election.

As the Trump presidency ends, it is clear that a majority of Republicans have abandoned their party's historic policies and temperament.

Policies: As then-House speaker Paul Ryan put it, Trump won in 2016 because he "heard a voice out in this country that no one else heard." Trump rejected significant elements of the previously dominant movement conservatism in favor of a folk nationalism in the tradition of Andrew Jackson. Nicholas M. Gallagher explains in National Review: "Jacksonians characteristically emphasize anti-elitism and egalitarianism while drawing a sharp distinction between members of the folk group and those outside it."

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Welcome, Conservatives, to Pariah Status

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 4, 2021  •  Washington Times

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Conservatives did not realize how good they had it in the twentieth century. Now, the walls are closing in on them.

To appreciate this change, consider five venerable and prestigious institutions selected by the father-son team of Leonard and Mark Silk in their 1980 book, The American Establishment: Harvard University (founded in 1636), the New York Times (1851), the Brookings Institution (1916), the Council on Foreign Relations (1921), and the Ford Foundation (1936).

Already, forty years ago, all five favored Democrats, progressivism, social experimentation, high taxes, and change. But, back then, Harvard hired outspoken conservatives to teach, the Times often published them, Brookings included them in events, the CFR invited them to chair meetings, and Ford funded them. I know, because I personally did all that. Back then, liberals had passionate and acerbic differences with conservatives, but they no more imagined canceling conservatives than twenty-first century conservatives imagine canceling liberals.

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2020's Biggest Hits at DanielPipes.org

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 2, 2021

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Traffic statistics at DanielPipes.org indicate that the following ten articles are my most read writings published in 2020, in ascending order. (Gary Gambill of the Middle East Forum kindly provided the tabulations and summaries.)

10. How Fares Western Civ? (Fall 2020)

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Bibi for Prime Minister? No, For President

by Daniel Pipes  •  December 29, 2020  •  Newsweek

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From the moment I met Benjamin Netanyahu, I liked him. On a personal level, we have had sporadic but good relations over nearly forty years. We first met in 1983, when he was deputy chief of mission at the Israeli embassy in Washington and I worked at the State Department. Over the decades since, I came to admire him for his many accomplishments.

But it's time for him to go.

Netanyahu became Israel's youngest-ever prime minister in 1996. His tenure had its ups and downs. Visiting him a month into his first premiership, I wrote appreciatively that he "glowed and looked to the future." That glow dimmed during his weak and amoral first prime ministry, to the point that in 1999 I wrote an exposé of his failed Golan Heights policy and reluctantly rooted for his opponent to win the election.

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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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