Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Daniel Pipes - 7

Jihad Khazen Al-Hayat - 03/07/06


The Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed go back to September 30, 2005, but the furore erupted only this year. At first I thought it was a mistake but then I discovered a link between Daniel Pipes and Danish right-wingers.

In August 27, 2002 Daniel Pipes and Lars Hedegaard jointly had an article published in the New York Post, headlined “Something Rotten in Denmark?”

The two authors said a Muslim group had announced a few days earlier that the equivalent of $30,000 bounty would be paid for the murder of several prominent Danish Jews. (The amount was 250,000 Danish kroner).

There are doubts over this story in the first place. In a posting on the Social Democracy Now website on February 10 this year, it was noted that Jyllands-Posten (the newspaper that would publish the cartoons in 2006) had on 11 August 2002 published a story by contracted freelancer Stig Matthiesen claiming that a militant Muslim group had launched an ‘intifada’ against Denmark by announcing a few days earlier it would offer a 250,000 Danish kroner bounty for the murder of several prominent Danish Jews.

As a Danish blogger noted, Matthiesen revealed neither his source, nor the names of any of the individuals allegedly threatened by this unnamed Muslim organisation. The Jerusalem Post picked up the story, with an article by Nina Gilbert on August 20, 2002. She stated that an extremist Islamic group thought to be Hizb-Ut-Tahrir had created a hit list of 15 prominent Danish Jews.

The alleged list included Rabbi Bent Melchior, a leading Danish rabbi who was the father of Israel’s then deputy foreign minister Michael Melchior, and Herbert Pundak, father of Oslo accords-architect Dr Ron Pundak, director general of the Peres Center for Peace in Israel. Herbert Pundak is a former chief editor of the Danish daily newspaper Politiken which is “politically at the other end of the spectrum form Jyllands-Posten”, Social Democracy Now observed.

In her August 19, 2002 report in the Jerusalem Post, Nina Gilbert said that 15 prominent Danish Jews had been put on a hit list, according to Jyllands-Posten. She contacted deputy foreign minister Michael Melchior who said he could not deny or confirm that his father was on the list, but that the Danish authorities were taking the matter seriously and had contacted those on the list.

Michael Melchior said the Jyllands-Posten had obtained the list “through Muslim connections, but was pressured not to publish it.” He added that the attorney general of Denmark was considering outlawing the Muslim group reportedly behind the plot.

The senior Melchior, and Herbert Pundak, had received attention when they joined forces to raise money for Palestinians, and there was much surprise that they would be on any alleged Islamist hit-list.

The Social Democracy blog noted, with regard to Nina Gilbert’s post, that the board of the Jerusalem Post’s directors includes “the neocon pope, Daniel Pipes. It is no surprise, therefore, that Pipes helped insinuate the story in the American media, using it as the departure point for an article he co-wrote with a Danish anti-Muslim crusader Lars Hedegaard on Danish-Muslim tensions published in the New York Post on August 27 2002.”

The author of the Social Democracy posting e-mailed Nina Gilbert to find out more about this overlooked story which would help fill in some of the background to Jyllands-Posten’s role in the cartoons affair. She revealed that her source had been Michael Melchior and not the original Danish publication. “What’s more, when I pressed her on the content of the story, she stated that she has no doubt that the story is true, because Melchior is a credible source.”

The Social Democracy blog claimed that Nina Gilbert’s response had “certainly opened my eyes to the way the Zionist media machine works. She did not bother to obtain a copy of the original Jyllands-Posten story and made no independent effort to verify the information contained in it.” The blog said the Danish branch of Hizb Ut Tahrir had already been in trouble for distributing leaflets on the streets of Copenhagen in March and April 2002 in which a verse from the Koran was cited in such a way that it could be construed as a call to kill Jews.

By August 2002 Danish Hizb Ut-Tahrir was embroiled in legal action over the leaflets and it is highly doubtful that it would have risked even greater unpopularity and perhaps also a total ban by launching an assassination campaign. “There is in fact no evidence that Hizb Ut Tahrir or another Danish Islamist organisation issued death threats at this time.” The party has denied that it has ever called for assassinations or issued hit lists, and the blogger suggested it was an attempt “to intimidate these two prominent pro-peace Jews” Melchior and Pundak.

Two MPs, Elisabeth Arnold and Elsebeth Gerner Nielsen, protested over the article and disputed some of its figures, including the claim that Muslims consume 40 per cent of Danish welfare expenses, when welfare includes not only unemployment benefits and social security but also housing, transport, homecare and so on. And if Muslims did represent a substantial part of the clients, this was mainly because it is hard to compete on a job market no interested in employing immigrants. They also rejected the claim that half of all rapists in Denmark were Muslim and said criminal registers to not record religion. The said that police investigators had found no evidence of real threats to Denmark’s 6,000 Jewish citizens, from a ‘death list’.

Pipes and Hedegaard reposted to the National Post that both MPs belong to the Socialist-radical Liberal government defeated the previous November and had an axe to grind. Pipes and Hedegaard defended their article.

The plot thickens as we get to an interview with Daniel Pipes conducted by Flemming Rose, the cultural editor of Jyllands-Posten who commissioned the cartoons.

Rose visited Pipes at the Middle East Forum offices in Philadelphia, and published an interview with him in Jyllands-Posten on October 29 2004. He conveyed and seemed to approve of his views rather than challenging them, or seeking the views of Pipes’ critics so as to give a more rounded profile.

Pipes spoke of the “striking likenesses” between the Islamists’ methods and goals, and that of communists and fascists, despite their different agendas. “It makes sense to look at the current conflict between the civilized world and militant Islam in the light of the two earlier confrontations with communism and fascism.”

Pipes said it was misleading to speak of the current conflict with Islamists as a “war against terror”. The conflict is directed not at Islam as a personal belief but at militant Islam. “Moderate Islam must be the solution.” Pipes said: “If you look deeply into this matter, the current conflict is one that must be fought out and won within the Muslim world”. It is important to find alternative leaders and ideas in the Islamic world that can take up the fight against militant Islam. “We must overthrow the ideology by force of arms and by means of education, media and information; and on the other hand we must support anti-Islamist Muslims.”

Only one qualification: Pipes decides who is an acceptable Muslim and who is not.

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