Does alleged “occupation” justify terrorism? Dr. Richard Pipes thinks so. I disagree.

The gruesome, graphic beheadings of Jews and Americans, the spectacularly simultaneous suicide airplanes, the human suicide bombers – these are all hard acts to follow. What can sicken, shock, and punish us even more? Al Qaeda loyalists and other serial killers are literally dying to answer this question.

Thus, radically evil Islamist terrorists took hundreds of small children hostage, tortured them, shot some in the back as they tried to escape — and within six days the New York Times published a piece by Harvard Emeritus Professor Richard (not Daniel) Pipes (“Give the Chechens a Land of Their Own” September 9) which hastens to assure us that not all Islamist terrorists are the same, that the bell did not toll for us in Beslan, that heretofore unimaginable alliances — perhaps even with Russia — may now be inevitable.

Pipes (Richard, not Daniel) explains that the Chechen terrorists are not like Al Qaeda’s terrorists because the Chechen goal is not worldwide domination; they only seek the “limited objective of independence.” If Russia would simply appease them by granting them a sovereign Muslim state, all will be well. He writes: “The Russians ought to learn from the French (in Algeria)” and, similarly, grant Chechnya independence.

Excuse me: Does Pipes really believe that the French “solution ” to Algeria is an unmitigated success story? Tell that to the thousands of Algerian Muslim girls and women whom paramilitary Algerian Islamists have kidnapped off the streets, turning them into sex and domestic slaves – killing them when they become pregnant or try to escape. Tell that to the journalists, intellectuals, and feminists whom Algerian Islamists have silenced, tortured, exiled, and murdered.

Both Franz Fanon and V.S. Naipaul understand how well the formerly colonized internalize the worst values of the colonizer. Based on my own experience in Afghanistan, I also understand that incredibly savage customs flourish freely, all of which pre-date colonization – e.g. polygamy, suttee, foot-binding, the veiling and sequestration of women, female mutilation, stoning to death for adultery, amputation for theft, etc.

(Sometimes, in retrospect, colonization improved matters somewhat in terms of hygiene, medicine, economy, and education for both genders and for the impoverished.)

Based on their withdrawal from Algeria, the French have the solution to terrorism? Tell that to the French who, in Paris, Marseilles, and Lyons, are living with an unruly, separatist Algerian presence that seeks to Islamize both France and Europe, veil their women, and achieve sha’ria law as a civil right.

Talk to the French Jews who have been killed, threatened, and humiliated mainly by French North African Muslims who are using French Jews as surrogate pawns in the battle for Palestine (code word for the battle for Allah against the infidel).

France’s so-called “success” in Algeria did not prevent the two French journalists from being kidnapped by Islamist terrorists nor did the anti-war stance of the two Italian female humanitarian workers prevent their kidnapping. 

The aim is to terrify, not communicate. To subjugate and obliterate, not to compromise.

Pipes also fails to note that a sovereign Muslim state of Chechnya would control the flow of Russia’s oil and gas pipelines. He minimizes the nature of the centuries-old criminality of the Chechen population, a group which, even he admits, sided with Hitler against Russia. Pipes declares that the Chechens had to “eventually resort” to terrorism because they were, after all, “occupied” by Russia. Pipes calls Chechnya a “tiny colonial dependency” and he urges Russia to “let it go.”

If Russia did, would the Chechens then follow the Palestinian model and launch state-sanctioned attacks against Russia forever because Russia is not Muslim, is too western, or simply because it has “more,” and is both envied and feared?

Today, occupation is viewed as far more terrible than terrorist violence; terrorists are not evil but are “freedom fighters,” “militants,” “insurgents.” Even the ethnic Arab Muslim Janjaweed in Sudan are called “insurgents” and “fighters,” not terrorists, in the pages of most liberal and left-wing newspapers, the Times included.

Progressive professors are condemning the U.S. State Department for having revoked Tariq Ramadan’s visa to teach at Notre Dame. Meanwhile, French feminists have contacted me, frantically, to explain that Ramadan’s views on women are very dangerous. For some, this is a great dilemma: Whether America should or should not grant civil rights and immigrant status to those who seek to overthrow our way of life — and who will do so by using those very rights against us.

I think we should not do so at this time. But I also think the decision should be carefully made. It does seem, however, that the greater the Islamist horror, the more certain western intellectuals, Pipes included, want to reason with it, understand it, appease it.

True, the Islamists committed beastly acts of terror against civilians but it was understandable: they were “occupied,” “colonized,” “humiliated,” “unemployed.”

By the way, did those Russian children ever “occupy” Chechnya?

No matter. Pretending to understand evil allows reason to prevail — if only as an illusion. Time magazine’s Lance Marrow, in an excellent and beautifully written meditation, observed that “evil” is present when children are attacked.

I agree with Richard Pipes that “compromise” is preferable. But how can the civilized world compromise with a suicide bomber or a suicide airplane? Undoing the education that created terrorists will take 50 to 100 years or more, as will exporting the ideas and practices of democracy and women’s rights to a region and a religion that has been totally hijacked by infidel- and woman-hating killers.

One cannot “compromise” with evil. One must do battle with it.


Previous articleQ & A: Tashlich
Next articleForever In Awe
Dr. Phyllis Chesler is a professor emerita of psychology, a Middle East Forum fellow, and the author of sixteen books including “The New Anti-Semitism” (2003, 2014), “Living History: On the Front Lines for Israel and the Jews, 2003-2015 (2015), and “An American Bride in Kabul” (2013), for which she won the National Jewish Book Award in the category of memoirs. Her articles are archived at A version of this piece appeared on