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Israeli Victory, Palestinian Prosperity
Letter to the Editor

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

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Who can resist the optimism of Micah Goodman's op-ed "Israel's Surprising Consensus on the Palestinian Issue" (July 15)? Sadly, the fine print reveals that the supposed consensus rests on Mr. Goodman's proposal "to create territorial contiguity between Palestinian autonomous islands in the West Bank, connect this Palestinian autonomy to the wider world, and promote Palestinian economic prosperity and independence."

Haven't we seen this movie before? Mr. Goodman's program closely replicates Shimon Peres's "New Middle East" and the Oslo Accords of 1993, when Israelis made major concessions in the innocent hope that Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas and their henchmen would respond with goodwill. We know now how that turned out.

As a historian, I regret to report that conflicts typically end not with goodwill gestures but with one side giving up on its war goals. Think: 1865, 1945, 1975 and 1991. Handsome apartments and late-model cars will not spur Palestinians to accept Israel; this will happen only after they recognize the futility of their dream to eliminate the Jewish state. Israeli victory, not Palestinian prosperity, leads to peace.

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Is Western Europe Turning to the Right?

by Daniel Pipes  •  July 19, 2021  •  Gatestone Institute

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A large-scale and widely-noted survey, "The Conversion of Europeans to the Values of the Right," suggests that Western Europe is trending conservative. But a close look at the survey data finds that not to be the case.

La Fondation pour l'innovation politique (or the Fondapol Foundation), which calls itself a "liberal, progressive, and European think tank," surveyed 7,603 respondents in Great Britain, France, Germany, and Italy between Jan. 20 and Feb. 10, 2021. In striking contrast to historic trends, it found the young to be more conservative than the old, suggesting the move toward conservativism signaled in the title.

To be precise, 41 percent of the young (defined as ages 18-34) associate with the Right as well as 38 percent of the elderly (age 50 and above). Likewise, 24 percent of the young associate with the Left, while 30 percent of the elderly do. It bears noting that the pollsters do not define these terms but allow respondents to do so. The statistical differences are not large; but given that the young usually grow more conservative with age and, presuming that these four countries are typical of Western Europe as a whole, this data suggests the Right in Western Europe will likely further build its lead over the Left.

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The Perilous Path from Muslim to Christian

by Daniel Pipes  •  July 12, 2021  •  National Interest

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"More Muslims have come to faith in Jesus Christ over the last thirty years—and specifically over the last seven to ten years—than at any other time in human history" wrote Joel Rosenberg in 2008, and the pace has intensified since then. Uwe Siemon-Netto confirmed in 2016 that "a global phenomenon is underway: Muslims are converting to various Christian denominations in droves in every part of the world." Indeed, Christian missionaries have even coined a name and an abbreviation for them: Muslim-background believers, or MBBs.

Why is this trend taking place, what are the numbers involved, and what are the consequences?

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Iran's Christian Boom

by Daniel Pipes  •  June 24, 2021  •  Newsweek

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Something religiously astonishing is taking place in Iran, where an Islamist government has ruled since 1979: Christianity is flourishing. The implications are potentially profound.

Consider some testimonials: David Yeghnazar of Elam Ministries stated in 2018 that "Iranians have become the most open people to the gospel." The Christian Broadcast Network found, also in 2018, that "Christianity is growing faster in the Islamic Republic of Iran than in any other country." Shay Khatiri of Johns Hopkins University wrote last year about Iran that "Islam is the fastest shrinking religion there, while Christianity is growing the fastest."

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Bibliography – My Writings Commemorating 50 Years

by Daniel Pipes  •  June 18, 2021

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For a historian, growing older has the special quality of having lived through history. With this in mind, I have since 2013 repeatedly commemorated the passage of fifty years that I personally experienced:

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Perceiving Academia's Decline Already in 1971

by Daniel Pipes  •  Spring 2021  •  Academic Questions

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I nominate Nathan Marsh Pusey, president of Harvard 1953-71, as the person who first foresaw and explained the modern American university's disastrous decline.

He did so elegantly and publicly, while reflecting on his presidential tenure in the course of his final commencement speech a half-century ago, on June 17, 1971. The talk received considerable attention, being published in full by the Boston Globe, covered by the New York Times, and discussed in a major history of Harvard.

Pusey began by recalling the great hope for universities at the end of World War II and noted their considerable accomplishments in the sciences and in other fields. But then he added a somber consideration that jumps out a half-century later:

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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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