Daniel Pipes, the Harvard educated Middle East scholar and expert on Islam, appeared at UC Berkeley on February 10th and delivered a strong message to an audience of over 700 people: support Israel and the US in the Middle East here at home and realize we are in a state of war.
Pipes’ appearance at UC Berkeley marked a bellwether in the War On Terror since the oldest UC campus is one of the worst in the nation for Palestinian propaganda against Israel and US foreign policy. The divestment campaign against Israel started at Cal Berkeley, and the campus hosted the first of the anti-Semitic Palestine Solidarity Conferences where exhortations to murder Jews have been made. Plans are to bring the next conference back there again this year. Even the local campus Jewish organization, Hillel, had developed a habit of bringing in Leftist groups or speakers constantly attacking Israel and US policy in Iraq until its leadership acquiesced to pressure from the Jewish community to bring speakers like Daniel Pipes to campus to give a more balanced—and accurate—view of the Middle East situation and how it has affected US education.
The Leftist culture that has defined Berkeley and stifled true debate about the Middle East before this event faded away as Pipes, who is also the President’s recent appointee to the United States Institute For Peace, cut through all the propaganda on campus and put the crisis in the Middle East into clear perspective. Listening to him, one can understand why The Boston Globe once wrote that, "If Pipes' admonitions had been heeded, there might never have been a 9/11."
Pipes’ message was that if there is ever to be peace in the Middle East, all diplomacy and negotiations must stop until the Palestinians agree to renounce violence and put a halt to terrorism. Touching on the issue of “settlements,” Pipes said they are really communities misnamed in the propaganda war and called them a “political triviality” that was being used to obscure the real problem in the Middle East: the refusal of politically intolerant Muslims and the Arab world to accept Israel’s right to exist as the only democracy in the Middle East despite Arafat’s letter in 1993 during the Oslo Accords when Arafat agreed to renounce violence. (Not mentioned in the speech directly, but readers should know, despite Arafat’s lip service in the letter about recognizing Israel’s right to exist, the Palestinian charter to this day has never been amended). To the contrary, over 1,000 Israelis have been murdered and over 6,000 maimed for life. He then discussed Militant Islam.
Pipes clearly defined the differences between Militant Islam and mainstream Muslims, the majority of Muslims today, by explaining that, “religion is not defined by ones’ politics,” and is not the real cause of the world’s current terrorism crisis. The conflict, he argued, stems mainly from political ideology. He attributed the worldwide situation today as beginning in 1979 when militant Muslims attacked the US embassy in Teheran and attacked two US installations in Pakistan. Later, there were the bombings of our embassies in Africa after numerous terror attacks on a smaller scale. From 1979 until September 10th, 2001 , over 800 Americans have been killed by militant Islamic terrorists. And up until that date, each attack was treated as a criminal act because the perpetrators were merely captured when possible, then prosecuted as in any normal crime. But 9/11 changed all that.
After 9/11, the terrorist actions that were once treated as police actions became part of a war where there would no longer be standard trials as in criminal cases. This second phase was to go after the sponsors of terrorism as was done to the to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Airline security and immigration checks became the norm as the country geared up for war. Still, nobody dealt with the ideology behind the conflict that has now become the third phase of the War on Terror: making war on Militant Islam and the fascist philosophy behind it.
Pipes pointed out that such a totalitarian philosophy was not only found in places like Afghanistan, but also at UC Berkeley where the ideas of Militant Islam were not being truthfully exposed to the student body. Pipes classified freedom of speech as being anathema to militant Muslims and that other ideas indicative of Militant Islam include misogyny, misanthropy, anti-Semitism, anti-Christianity, “jihadism,” suicidal thinking and a death cult, as well as a lack of economic freedom.
During his main speech he discussed the earlier appeal of failed political ideas like Nazism, Marxism, Stalinism and Leninism and how they had all failed by the late 1980’s. “Totalitarianism has held an enormous attraction in the twentieth century,” he said. “What we are seeing today is the ultimate failure of Militant Islam occurring,” as he pointed out that the Muslim Brotherhood, the granddaddy of Militant Islamic totalitarianism, rose to power in Egypt in 1928 just about the same time as Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin emerged to take the reigns of power in their countries. “The same people who support Militant Islam support suicide bombers and Saddam Hussein,” he pointed out.
Pipes’ message about totalitarianism being the real enemy of peace defined the nature of today’s conflict. “Just as the Nazis, and Marxism were eventually defeated, so too is Militant Islam to be defeated, an ideology that needs to be destroyed just as other totalitarian movements had been in history,” Pipes argued. “An ultimate result of 9/11 is that the world is now engaged in the modernization of Islam to bring it into the 21st century.”
Citing the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Pipes described how the negotiations at Oslo were “palsy” meetings between the negotiators with no meaningful results. He explained how the Palestinian leadership betrayed the Palestinian people by adhering to the ideas of radical politicians who only sought to use the Accords as another means to destroy Israel.
He characterized the failed diplomatic efforts by Zinni, Mitchell, Tenet and Abdullah as being counterproductive and failing to deal with Militant Islam’s “foul ambition.” He commented that when “Jews are as secure in Hebron (the West Bank) as Arabs are in Nazareth (inside Israel) then we will have something. Only then will it be possible to negotiate borders.” He described such details such as Palestinians being allowed to live in Israel and removing settlements in the West Bank and Gaza as premature to any meaningful settlement.
Moving on to US policy in Iraq, Pipes supported the continuing efforts for democracy in Iraq. In making comparisons to the defeats of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, he commented how those countries and populations had experienced total war for several years and experienced the total defeat of governments they supported. In contrast, Iraq’s war lasted only three weeks, resulting in the Iraqi people being liberated from Saddam Hussein.
America, he continued, engaged itself in the future of Germany and Japan at the end of the Second World War, and does so in Iraq, even though most Americans do not really care about Iraq. He advocated pulling troops out of Iraq and the US not footing the bill for Iraq’s rehabilitation, but rather letting Iraqis take control and make their own decisions. He told the audience that putting democracy in place in that country in a matter of months would be impossible, that to do so would take 20 years. He advocated an accelerated schedule, to gradually set up minority rights, rule of law and freedom of assembly, all starting with municipal elections on the local level much as was done at the end of 1945 in Europe and Asia.
The second half of the speech dealt with Campus Watch, Pipes’ watchdog agency, which has been very effective in exposing academic abuses on campuses and support for Militant Islam spread by some professors and groups such as the Muslim Students Association. Campus Watch, a division of Pipe’s Middle East Forum, oversees propaganda on our campuses, especially as is occurring in centers for Middle East Studies across the US, including UC Berkeley.
Pipes dealt with what he termed the incompetence of Middle East Studies today by PhDs who really have the basics wrong, lamenting that many of them see Militant Islam as a democratizing force. He characterized them as adversarial to the US government that finances them by developing scholars who are hostile to US national interests. Pipes called for getting the truth out in Middle East Studies, about the 100,000 Algerians and the two million Sudanese people murdered by adherents to Militant Islam’s political goals. These are realities to which students are not exposed, he argued.
One of the worst abuses Pipes spoke of in Middle East Studies was the misuse of the word “jihad,” which means expanding Muslim sovereignty by offensive war. He described how professors today sanitize the word by saying it means personal struggle; some have extended the meaning to striving for women’s rights or fighting apartheid, turning the word’s true historical and religious meaning on its head. He stated that many of these professors belittle the results of international terrorism and abuse students who are freethinkers by giving low grades.
Pipes criticized Berkeley for allowing a class to be taught by the student leader of an anti-Israel group on campus (not mentioned in the speech, but important is the fact the class in “Palestinian poetry” and “resistance” was taught by someone who does not speak or read Arabic and was really just a propaganda course against Israel and the US) that discouraged conservatives from attending and asked them “to seek other sections.” This mixture of academia and propaganda has become commonplace, he argued. The University of Michigan is another case of this since it had endorsed a website on Wahhabism, the Militant Islamic sect spread by Saudi Arabia that was also the faith of the attackers on 9/11.
On the bright side, Pipes said Congress was finally taking a look at (Title VI US tax) funding to university Middle East Studies departments to put a halt to the misuse of those funds, realizing that those funds could aid the enemy in time of war.
Pipes also addressing accusations of “racism” against him and Campus Watch in the media by CAIR, the Saudi Wahhabist front and lobbying group, explained that the current war is not based on race because “race has to do with color and one does not need to be a given color to support Militant Islam.” He drove home that race plays no part in this only the politics Militant Muslims and their supporters who wish to destroy those who disagree with their ideas.
As to CAIR’s accusations of McCarthyism in his creation of Campus Watch, he made the point that Joseph McCarthy had the government behind him and the power to subpoena and arrest people or make them lose their jobs while Campus Watch is just a small think tank that allows its staff to argue in the marketplace of ideas, something that Militant Islamic groups in the past had tried but failed to stifle.
Pipe’s recent appointment by President Bush to consult the government in how to deal with the current crisis in the Middle East was a comforting indication of how the tide is turning in public opinion against those who try to support and promote the totalitarian political agenda of Militant Islam and are opposed to defeating it in the War On Terror.
The audience gave Pipes a standing ovation with loud cheers at the conclusion of his speech. And for UC Berkeley, it was a lesson in how a true scholar armed with facts and the power of words can help lead our country in time of war.