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Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Pipes’

Daniel Pipes: Reflections on Current Hamas-Israel Hostilities

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

Two observations about the hostilities that began on Nov. 10:

(1) The old Arab-Israeli wars were military clashes, the recent ones are political clashes. The wars of 1948-49, 1967, and 1973 were life-and-death struggles for the Jewish state. But the wars of 2006, 2008-09, and now 2012 are media events in which Israeli victory on the military battlefield is foreordained and the struggle is to win public opinion. Opedshave replaced bullets, social media have replaced tanks. Will Israel prevail in arguing that its enemy initiated offensive action? Or will those enemies, Hamas or Hezbollah, convince observers that Israel is an illegitimate regime whose recourse to force is criminal? The war must be fought primarily as amedia event.

(2) If Hamas knows it cannot defeat the Israel Defense Forces and will get a bloody nose for its efforts, it obviously has motives other than victory in mind. What might those be? Several come to mind:

  • Test the waters in the aftermath of Barack Obama’s reelection.
  • Rouse public opinion against Israel and make it pay a price internationally.
  • Refute accusations by Palestinian Islamic Jihad that it has abandoned “resistance.”
  • Remind the Palestinian Authority, as it seeks statehood at the United Nations, who controls Gaza.
  • Rile up Israeli Arabs.
  • Preempt Egyptian plans to destroy Gaza tunnels, as Cairo cannot be seen helping Israel in a time of crisis.

(November 15, 2012)

Nov. 16, 2012 update: Readers have suggested a number of other incentives for Hamas to absorb a pounding by the IDF, which I list here along with my responses:

  • Distract attention from the Iranian nuclear buildup or the civil war in Syria. But this distraction will last for days or weeks, while the Iranian and Syrian crises last years, so I don’t see that it brings significant benefits.
  • Helps Netanyahu in the elections, thereby lessening Labor’s prospects and the possibility of an agreement with the Palestinian Authority. That makes good sense but strikes me as a bit too Machiavellian for an organization, Hamas, under acute stress.
  • Test the level of Egyptian support. Useful information, but is it worth getting bloodied for this?

Originally published at DanielPipes.org and the National Review Online on November 15th, 2012.

Daniel Pipes: Why I am Voting Republican

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Note the title is not “Why I am voting for Mitt Romney.” That’s because the two major American parties, Democratic and Republican, represent contrasting outlooks and you vote for the one or other of them, not for a personality. The presidential candidate is captain of the team but its many other players act autonomously. The past half-century has seen a sharpening of the divide between the parties’ philosophical consistency which I (unlike most observers) see as a positive development; who needs Rockefeller Republicans, wets, or RINOs? And ticket-splitting increases gridlock.

I vote Republican because I support the party’s core message of individualism, patriotism, and respect for tradition, in contrast to the core Democratic message of dependence, self-criticism, and “progress.” I am inspired by the original reading of the U.S. Constitution, by ideals of personal freedom and American exceptionalism. I vote for small government, for a return of power to the states, for a strong military, and an assertive pursuit of national interests.

And on my special issues, the Middle East and Islamism, Republicans consistently outperform Democrats. Extensive polling and many congressional actions establish this pattern for the Arab-Israeli conflict and a similar contrast exists also on other foreign policy issues, such as the Iranian nuclear buildup, energy policy, and the Arab upheavals. As for the new totalitarian ideology, Islamism, Democrats show a marked softness, just as they previously did vis-à-vis the communist one.

Finally, I worry that Barack Obama will do far more damage in a second term than he could in his first, that Obamacare will prove just the start of what, before his inauguration, I called the “fundamental restructuring of the relationship between state and society such as occurred under three of his Democratic predecessors of the past century – Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson.”

And so I am voting the straight Republican ticket and urge readers to do likewise. (November 4, 2012)

Originally published at the National Review Online and at Daniel Pipes.org on Nov. 4th, 2012.

Daniel Pipes: Superficiality Reigns Before the Election

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

It happens every four years, as U.S. presidential elections roll around: I feel like a stranger.

That’s because news reports blare out what’s not of interest: trivial statistics (171,000 jobs added in October; jobless rate up 0.1 percent to 7.9 percent), biographical irrelevancies (claims that Romney outsourced jobs to other countries when at Bain Capital), and forgettable gaffes (Obama saying that “Voting is the best revenge”).

This limited discussion misses two main points: First, the quite contrary philosophies of Democrats and Republicans. Where’s the discussion of equality vs. liberty, the federal government vs. federalism, much less about topics like education, immigration and Islamism? What are the candidates’ criteria for appointing federal judges, their ways to solve the debt crisis, or their guidelines for the use of force abroad? What about the scandalous administration reaction to the events in Benghazi on Sep. 11, 2012? It almost seems that the candidates tacitly agreed to ignore the most important and interesting issues.

Second, the debate ignores that the candidates are not isolated individuals but heads of large teams. Who are the candidates for secretary of state, defense, and treasury, and for attorney general? Who are likely heads of the National Security Council and the Council of Economic Advisers? What are the implications of each team taking office?

Let’s hope that voters can see their way through this miasma of superficiality. (November 3, 2012).

Originally published at National Review Online and DanielPipes.org on November 3, 2012.

Post-Mortem on the Muhammad Protests

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

As Muslim crowds dissipate and American diplomatic missions return to normal activities, here are three final thoughts on the riots that began this Sept. 11 and killed about thirty:

The movie really did matter: The Obama administration dishonestly skirted responsibility for the murder of four Americans in Libya by claiming that the attack was a protest that got unpredictably out of hand against the “Innocence of Muslims” video.

In response, leading analysts have concluded that the video hardly mattered anywhere. Barry Rubin scorns the video as a “phony excuse for the demonstration” in Egypt. Michael Ledeen upbraids the administration for claiming “that attacks against Americans aren’t attacks against Americans at all, but attacks against a video.” “It is not about a video,” writes Andrew McCarthy, “any more than similar episodes in recent years have been about cartoons, teddy-bears, accidental Koran burnings, etc.” Hussein Haqqani dismisses the protests as a “function of politics, not religion.” For Victor Davis Hanson, the video and similar incidents “are no more than crude pretexts to direct fury among their ignorant and impoverished masses at opportune times against the United States, and thereby gain power.” Lee Smith speculates that “blaming the video is part of some complex public diplomacy campaign.” Cliff Kinkaid flatly calls the video “a diversion intended to save Obama’s presidency.”

I respect and learn from all these writers, but disagree about the video. Yes, individuals, organizations, and governments goaded the mobs – indeed, there always needs to be some instigator who mobilizes Muslims against an offending statement, text, drawing, or video. But it would be a mistake to see the mob as but a tool of clashing interests (such as Salafis vs. Muslim Brothers in Egypt) or American political imperatives. Rage directed at the video was heartfelt, real, and persistent.

The person of Muhammad has acquired a saint-like quality among Muslims and may not be criticized, much less mocked. German orientalist Annemarie Schimmel pointed out (in her 1985 study on the veneration of Muhammad) that his personality is, other than the Koran, “the center of the Muslims’ life.” Outrage among Muslims over insults to his person is sincere.

Note, for example, the notorious section 295-B of Pakistan’s Criminal Code, which punishes any defamation of Muhammad, even if unintentional, with execution. These regulations have so much support that two prominent politicians, Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, were assassinated in 2011 merely for voicing opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Their murders had nothing to do with the West and certainly were not diversions in a U.S. presidential campaign.

Trends: As someone who’s been watching that clash since Khomeini’s time, I ascertain three main trends. First, Muslims increasingly devote themselves to the political imperative of preserving Muhammad’s sanctity. Second, Western governments and elites (i.e., journalists, lawyers, intellectuals, artists) have become increasingly timid over time when facing Islamist fury, willing to apologize, appease, and placate; for one appalling example, see the U.S. embassy in Cairo‘s effusions on this Sept. 11, as a mob raged outside. Third, Western non-elites have increasingly responded to Islamists with a You-want-to-be-insulted-well-take-this! attitude that includes Koran burnings, “Defeat Jihad” ads, belligerently offensive French cartoons, and a promised roll-out of Muhammad movies.

Obama vs. Morsi: The American and Egyptian presidents offered starkly different views on the freedom to blaspheme in their speeches to the United Nations last week. Barack Obama insisted that “in 2012, at a time when anyone with a cell phone can spread offensive views around the world with the click of a button, the notion that we can control the flow of information is obsolete. The question, then, is how we respond. And on this we must agree: there is no speech that justifies mindless violence.” Mohamed Morsi disagreed: “The obscenities recently released as part of an organized campaign against Islamic sanctities is unacceptable and requires a firm stand. We have a responsibility in this international gathering to study how we can protect the world from instability and hatred.”

In brief, each side has an approach and method (free speech vs. prohibition of blasphemy) which it considers fundamental to its identity and forward with a certain reverence. Ever since the Khomeini edict against Salman Rushdie in 1989, each side intends to impose its way on the other side, suggesting that this clash of wills has just begun.

Mocking Muhammad Is Not Hate Speech

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

To stop Islamist violence over perceived insults to Muhammad, I argued in a FoxNews.com article on Friday [also republished on the JewishPress.com], editors and producers daily should display cartoons of Muhammad “until the Islamists get used to the fact that we turn sacred cows into hamburger.”

This appeal prompted a solemn reply from Sheila Musaji of The American Muslim website, who deemed it “irresponsible and beyond the pale.” Why so? Because, as she puts it, “The solution to escalating violence and hate speech is not more hate speech.”

Hate speech, legal authorities agree, involves words directed against a category of persons. Here’s a typical definition, from USLegal.com: “incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and the like.”That sounds sensible enough. But does mocking Muhammad, burning a Koran, or calling Islam a cult constitute hate speech? And what about the respectful representations of Muhammad in the buildings of the U.S. Supreme Court or the New York State Supreme Court? Even they caused upset and rioting.

Attacking the sanctities of a religion, I submit, is quite unlike targeting the faithful of that religion. The former is protected speech, part of the give and take of the market place of ideas, not all of which are pretty. Freedom of speech means the freedom to insult and be obnoxious. So long as it does not include incitement or information that urges criminal action, nastiness is an essential part of our heritage.

On a personal note, I have had to learn to live with torrents of vulgar venom, in speech and in pictures alike, from those who disagree with me; you don’t hear me whining about it. More broadly, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, and other faith communities in the West have learned since the Enlightenment to endure vicious lacerations on their symbols and doctrines.

If proof be needed, recall Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi, Andres Serrano’s Piss Christi, and Chris Ofili’s The Holy Virgin Mary. Or the avalanche of antisemitic cartoons spewing from Muslims.

For an over-the-top recent example, The Onion humor website published a cartoon under the heading, “No One Murdered Because of This Image.” It shows Moses, Jesus, Ganesha, and Buddha in the clouds, engaged in what the caption delicately understates as “a lascivious sex act of considerable depravity.” As the Onion mock-reportingly but accurately goes on, “Though some members of the Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist faiths were reportedly offended by the image, sources confirmed that upon seeing it, they simply shook their heads, rolled their eyes, and continued on with their day.”

I asked for the cartoons to be published again and again to establish that Islamists must not chip away at the freedom to mock and insult by hiding behind bogus claims of incitement. Name an instance, Ms Musaji, when biting remarks about Muhammad, the Koran, or Islam have led to riots and murders by non-Muslims against Muslims?

I cannot think of a single one.

When attacks on Muslims take place, they occur in response to terrorism by Muslims; that’s no excuse, to be sure, but it does indicate that violence against Muslims has no connection with lampooning Muhammad or desecrating Korans. Muslims need to grow thick skins like everyone else; this is one of the by-products of globalization. The insulation of old is gone for good.

To make matters worse, Islamists tell us Be Careful with Muhammad! and threaten those with the temerity to discuss, draw, or even pretend to draw the prophet of Islam, even as they freely disparage and insult other religions. I can cite many examples of actors, satirists, artists, cartoonists, writers, editors, publishers, ombudsmen, and others openly admitting their intimidation about discussing Islamic topics, a problem even Ms. Musaji herself has acknowledged.

To cool the temperature, Muslims can take two steps: end terrorism and stop the rioting over cartoons and novels. That will cause the antagonism toward Islam built up over the past decade to subside. At that point, I will happily retract my appeal to editors and producers to flaunt offensive cartoons of Muhammad.

Originally published at Foxnews.com on Sept. 24, 2012. See also Danielpipes.org.

A Muhammed Cartoon a Day

Monday, September 24th, 2012

When Salman Rushdie mocked Islamic sanctities in 1989 in his magical realist novel The Satanic Verses, Ayatollah Khomeini did something shockingly original: He pronounced a death edict on Rushdie and all those connected to the production of his book. By doing this, Khomeini sought to impose Islamic mores and laws on the West; we don’t insult the prophet, he effectively said, and neither can you.

That started a trend of condemning those in the West deemed anti-Islamic that persists to this day. Again and again, when Westerners are perceived as denigrating Muhammad, the Koran, or Islam, Islamists demonstrate, riot and kill.

Khomeini’s edict also had the unexpected side effect of empowering individuals – Western and Islamist alike – to drive their countries’ policies.

On the Western side, Fleming Rose, a newspaper editor, created the greatest crisis for Denmark since World War II by publishing twelve Muhammad cartoons. Florida pastor Terry Jones caused panic for American commanders in Afghanistan by threatening to burn a Koran. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and friends prompted a crisis in U.S. relations with Egypt with an amateurish video, Innocence of Muslims. By publishing vulgar pictures of Muhammad, French weekly Charlie Hebdo is causing the French government temporarily to shut down diplomatic missions in twenty countries. Plans by the German satirical magazine Titanic to publish attacks on Muhammad have likewise caused German missions to be closed.

On the Islamist side, an individual or group took one of these perceived offenses and turned it into a reason to riot. Khomeini did this with The Satanic Verses and Ahmad Abu Laban did likewise with the Danish cartoons. Hamid Karzai goaded Afghans to riot over burned Korans by American soldiers and Egyptian preacher Khaled Abdullah turned Innocence of Muslims into an international event.

In brief, any Westerner can buy a Koran for a dollar and burn it, while any Muslim with a platform can transform that act into a fighting offense. As passions rise on both sides of the democratized Western / Muslim divide, Western provocateurs and Islamist hotheads have found each other and confrontations occur with increasing frequency…

Would repetition inspire institutionalization, generate ever-more outraged responses, and offer a vehicle for Islamists to ride to greater power? Or would it lead to routinization, to a wearing out of Islamists, and a realization that violence is counter-productive to their cause?Which prompts this question: What would happen if publishers and managers of major media reached a consensus, “Enough of this intimidation, we will publish the most famous Danish Muhammad cartoon every day until the Islamists tire out and no longer riot”? What would happen if instances of Koran burning happened recurrently?

I predict the latter, that a Muhammad cartoon published each day, or Koranic desecrations on a quasi-regular basis, will make it harder for Islamists to mobilize Muslim mobs. Were that the case, Westerners could once again treat Islam as they do other religions – freely, to criticize without fear. That would demonstrate to Islamists that Westerners will not capitulate, that they reject Islamic law, that they are ready to stand up for their values.

So, this is my plea to all Western editors and producers: display the Muhammad cartoon daily until the Islamists get used to the fact that we turn sacred cows into hamburger.

This article originally published by FoxNews.com on September 21st, 2012.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/a-muhammed-cartoon-a-day/2012/09/24/

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