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May 08, 2003

Daniel Pipes, Peacenik

A good read about Pipes, written by Pipes
[...] Now the little-known but influential United States Institute of Peace (USIP), created by Congress in 1984 "to promote the prevention, management, and peaceful resolution of international conflicts," has become the latest flashpoint in the philosophical dispute over how peace is defined and best pursued. Utilizing $16.2 million supplied by US taxpayers, the institute's 70 employees fund research, give scholarships, publish books, and even sponsor the National Peace Essay Contest for high-school students. The USIP will gain greater visibility when it constructs its new headquarters on the Washington Mall.

Now President George W. Bush has nominated Daniel Pipes, a Middle East scholar who specializes in Islamic extremism, a prolific author, and a Jerusalem Post columnist, to its bipartisan, 15-member unpaid board of directors. His nomination has unleashed a torrent of opposition from liberals, Muslim advocacy groups, and diehard Jewish proponents of Oslo.

The Washington Post editorialized that Pipes "has long been regarded by Muslims as a destroyer of... bridges" between Islam and the West; that his nomination to the institute "of all places" is "salt in the wound" of Muslims who "are anxious that they are being singularly scrutinized" by the US Justice Department.

The Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) calls the nomination a "sad, Orwellian" signal from an administration that is "far-right, pro-Likud, [and] neoconservative." Khaled Saffuri of the Islamic Institute complains: "If Pipes fails to apologize for his many bigoted statements and writing, he should withdraw his nomination." And James Zogby, of the Arab American Institute, says: "Daniel Pipes has a problem his obsessive hatred of all things Muslim." In the most telling charge of all, the ADC argues that Pipes "is not a man of peace." The proof? He "is a bitter opponent of the Oslo peace process."

Pipes's Jewish opponents take a similar tack. Don Peretz, professor emeritus at the State University of New York: "I don't think his views are conducive to the objectives of the US Institute for Peace, which are to work for the peaceful resolution of conflicts." And journalist Ori Nir, reporting on the controversy for The Forward, describes Pipes's Philadelphia-based think tank, the Middle East Forum, as being "a sharp critic of American-backed efforts at Israeli-Palestinian peace."

To be fair, not everyone associated with Oslo opposes the Pipes nomination. The American Jewish Committee's David Harris says he "wholeheartedly supports the nomination" based on Pipes's "distinguished academic scholarship." So the battle over the Pipes nomination boils down to whether the candidate is an anti-Muslim bigot and an opponent of peace. He is neither.

Pipes believes Muslim civilization must modernize, and that it can only do so if it embraces Western democratic values and the rule of law: "Modernity does not exist by itself, but is inextricably attached to its makers." If anyone is trying to build bridges, it is Daniel Pipes. "My position is that militant Islam is the problem, and moderate Islam is the solution." Elsewhere he says, "Muslim integrationists are delighted to live in a democratic country where the rule of law prevails, whereas chauvinists wish to import the customs of the Middle East and South Asia." [more]