Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Daniel Pipes - 2

Jihad Khazen Al-Hayat - 28/06/06

Daniel Pipes is an Israeli apologist, an extremist and a racist who works to spread hatred of Arabs and Muslims. That is my opinion of him in few words. My information about him is more detailed and comes from highly qualified Western sources, mostly American.

In an article in The New York Review of Books (June 8 2006 issue) Michael Massing, a contributing editor of the Columbia Journalism Review, describes Daniel Pipes as “an energetic neoconservative whose views seem extreme even within that world.”

Massing’s remark came in his review of the essay “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy” by professors John J Mearsheimer and Stephen M Walt.

In their paper, Mearsheimer and Walt had said, among other things, that the Israel Lobby monitors what professors write and teach. They wrote: “In September 2002, Marin Kramer and Daniel Pipes, two passionately pro-Israel neo-conservatives, established a website (Campus Watch) that posted dossiers on suspect academics and encouraged students to report remarks or behaviour that might be considered hostile to Israel, This transparent attempt to blacklist and intimidate scholars provoked a harsh reaction and Pipes and Kramer later removed the dossiers, but the website still invites students to report ‘anti-Israel’ activity.”

In a letter to the London Review of Books, which published one version of the essay, Pipes retorted that this was inaccurate in several ways – for example Kramer had no role in founding Campus Watch. Perhaps not - but he is very involved in it.

Pipes said he was writing “specifically to state that no ‘Lobby’ told me to start Campus Watch. Neither the Middle East Forum nor myself has ever taken orders from some mythical ‘Lobby’, and specifically I decided to establish Campus Watch on my own, without direction from any outside source.” He challenged Mearsheimer and Walt to provide their information that connected the ‘Lobby’ to his decision to establish Campus Watch.

They did not need to prove a connection as they did not claim this in their study.

Mearsheimer and Walt responded in a follow-up article in the London Review of Books. Regarding Pipes’ criticism, they said: “Most important, the Israel lobby is not a secret, clandestine cabal; on the contrary, it is openly engaged in interest-group politics and there is nothing conspiratorial or illicit about its behaviour. Thus we can easily believe that Daniel Pipes has never ‘taken orders’ from the lobby, because the Leninist caricature of the lobby depicted in his letter is one that we clearly dismissed. Readers will also note that Pipes does not deny that his organisation Campus Watch was created in order to monitor what academics say, write and teach, so as to discourage them from engaging in open discourse about the Middle East.”

What is the relationship between Pipes and Martin Kramer?

Pipes does have a close working relationship with Martin Kramer, who is one of the 20 “experts on Islam, Islamism, and the Middle East” attached to Pipes’ Middle East Forum and listed on the forum’s website. Kramer is senior editor of the forum’s journal, Middle East Quarterly.

His website offers “an alternative reading of the history and politics of the Middle East”. It includes a blog, Sandbox, and a column, Sandstorm.

Kramer is the Wexler-Fromer fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a neoconservative think tank. He has a 25-year record of teaching at Tel Aviv University and has directed the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies.

Of particular significance for the work of Campus Watch is Kramer’s onslaught on Middle East studies in the US, particularly through his book “Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America” which was published in 2001. The book has had much influence, and has aroused much debate and criticism. Kramer is a savage critic of the late Edward Said and of the Middle East Studies Association.

One leading British scholar on the Middle East, Professor Fred Halliday, wrote in his review of “Ivory Towers on Sand”, published in the Chatham House journal International Affairs in 2004, that Kramer had the right and even the responsibility to engage in a public assessment and critique of the work of other scholars in the Middle East. But “that Kramer should have written the book he has is, however contestable, disappointing from a person of his scholarly and academic standing, and, on many of the issues he touches, irresponsible.”

Halliday accused Kramer of distorting the contemporary state of Middle Eastern studies. His book “has, as it would appear to have been intended to have, deleterious consequences for university life itself. Kramer has done neither himself nor the international community of Middle Eastern studies any service by producing this bilious book.”

While some of the arguments advanced by Kramer were valid, Halliday added, “whatever valid points he does make are more than offset by the general tone of this text, which often appears to be wilfully distorting the role of particular scholars and journals; it is evocative more of a political brawl – which he and his publisher would appear, indeed, to have wished to initiate - than of an exploration of academic issues.”

Halliday has himself has made some criticisms of Edward Said’s work, as have certain other scholars, but Kramer “proceeds with his own diatribes that are lacking in originality, either theoretical or substantive.”

Kramer conducts his campaigns against certain Middle East studies academics on his website. He is constantly targeting Rashid Khalidi who has the Edward Said chair at Columbia University and may go to Princeton.

Kramer vies with Pipes who vies with the Israelis themselves. It’s not just those sympathetic to the Palestinians, or who favour dialogue with Muslims, who are critical of Pipes. He has alienated some Jewish and Israeli opinion with his extreme views on the Palestine-Israeli conflict.

In his article “Israel Shuns Victory”, published on on March 28 2006, Pipes complained: “As Israelis go to the polls, not one of the leading parties offers the option of winning the war against the Palestinians. It’s a striking and dangerous lacuna.” Rather than seek victory, “Israelis have developed a lengthy menu of approaches to manage the conflict.”

Pipes said all these approaches manage the conflict without resolving it. “All ignore the need to defeat Palestinian rejectionism. All seek to finesse war rather than win it.” He cited Douglas MacArthur observing: “In war, there is no substitute for victory.”

Pipes often disagrees with the Bush administration’s approach towards the Middle East and towards Islamists. One reason he think a civil war in Iraq would not be a strategic disaster is “that it would be the end of over-fast democratisation.” When he was asked in an interview in April 2006 whether he agreed with the goals and methods of President Bush’s Middle East policy, he said he agrees with the goals much more than the methods.

He has asserted that “over and over again branches of the American government have been embarrassed by their blindness to jihadist Islam”. The American government “needs to wake up to those elements in its midst whose allegiance in the war on terror is on the other side.”

I’ll continue tomorrow.


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