I know it doesn’t seem possible and I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t read it with my own eyes but…the Israeli far-right hosted an “international conference on jihad” at which Pipes was actually the liberal in the room. That should tell you about what garbage the rest of the anti-Muslim jihadis were spewing.
Among them was Geert (“‘Fitna’ is Dutch for ‘Garbage'”) Wilders who denied that there is such a thing as moderate Islam:
Wilders…told his listeners that “as the terrorist attacks in Mumbai proved, there’s no moderate Islam,” and it is time for the West to realize it is “in a conflict with the Muslim faith at large.”
Shockingly, this and similar statements by an Israeli Islam-hater provoked a demurral from Pipes:
Haifa University’s David Bukay…averred that “moderate Islam” does not exist and that the Koran could not be reformed or modernized.
But American scholar and activist Daniel Pipes disagreed…Pipes said the Koran “is like a supermarket where one takes what one wants and leaves the rest.” This freedom of selection, he argued, provides a means for reshaping Islam.
Pipes opined that those who regard Islam rather than jihad as the enemy fail to realize that a change has occurred over the past few years: Although moderate Muslims are still a small force, they are stronger than they were two years ago.
“Millions took to the streets to protest Turkey’s Islamist ruling party, the AKP,” he said when asked to name examples. And “hundreds of thousands demonstrated in Pakistan” following the murder of prime ministerial candidate (and former premier) Benazir Bhutto last year.
Pipes returns to true form by exploiting historical events that provide no support for what he claims they do. In Turkey’s case, the Islamist party actually is the type of moderate Islamic movement Pipes claims to support. The opposition, which he seems to imply represents moderate Islam, does nothing of the sort. It is an anti-Islamic political movement composed of the Turkish military and conservative elements of society whose perogatives are threatened by the ascendancy of political Islam.
In the case of Pakistan, while Bhutto was an opponent of the Pakistani Taliban who may’ve assassinated her, the jury is still out on whether there is enough will within Pakistan to fight Islamic extremism. Pipes’ view that the demonstrations against Bhutto’s murder represent the ascendancy of moderate Islam is far too premature.
And in this passage, Pipes returns to his truly hateful anti-Palestinian form:
Pipes said he supported more determined Western military action against radical Islam as a means of fostering this change. He also advocated “crushing the Palestinians‘ hope for eliminating Israel” and opposed the creation of a Palestinian state and the ongoing peace talks.
That’s my man, Dan. The rejectionist we’ve all come to know and “love.”
You can imagine what type of cauldron of hate the Israeli extremist right is when, at this conference, Dan Pipes is seen as the most sympathetic speaker to Islam. The event was organized by far-right Jewish jihadi, MK Aryeh Eldad.
I think this is an acknowledgment on the part of hard rightwingers that the value of their media properties (see http://www.smearcasting.com) has been diminished by an effective campaign on the part of yourself and many, many others to identify these guys for the wild-eyed warmongering fantasists that they are.
Now they are going to have to create a “diversity of opinion” on the Islamophobic right in order to be able to argue that any of these guys have enough credibility that journalists should still call them for comment. Pipes is an obvious choice for a ‘recovery effort’ as Stanford’s Hoover Institution recently sullied itself by taking in Pipes as a “visiting scholar” or some such thing.
The “liberal” remark from Pipes that the Koran “is like a supermarket where one takes what one wants and leaves the rest.”, would offend many Muslims because the idea that the infallable word of God can be taken or left, would not sit well with most Muslims, moderate or not. However, many of these same Muslims will also assert that not all aspects of the Koran are meant to be followed in modern times. If this is the case, my question is this: Who or what authority determines what modern-day Muslims believe to be God’s instructions for modern life? That is a question that the Muslim world must answer for themselves, amongst themselves.
Whatever the Muslims world decides, the answer must be authoritative and legitimate enough to convince the extremists. If not, it will do little to bring about peaceful relations between the Muslim and non-Muslim societies.
“The “liberal” remark from Pipes that the Koran “is like a supermarket where one takes what one wants and leaves the rest.”, would offend many Muslims because the idea that the infallable word of God can be taken or left, would not sit well with most Muslims, moderate or not”.
No, it wouldn’t Potl. It would sit unhappily with fundamentalists, not Muslims per se. Islam and Judaism both have a history of discourse, learning and debate; fundamentalism is a more recent development – the interpretation of Khomeini for instance doesn’t go back any further than the 1970’s. Pipes is right about one thing – the Koran, as with the Bible, contains a multiplicity of teachings which are divergent: in other words, suggesting that the book should be taken literally is not compatible with the book’s teachings.
“If two parties of believers take up arms the one against the other, make peace between them. If either of them unjustly attacks the other, fight against the aggressors ‘till they submit to God’s judgement. When they submit, make peace between them in equity and justice; God loves those who exercise justice” (from ‘The Chambers’; 49:9 – pp. 363-4 in Dawood’s trans. Op. cit.)
Peace, equity and justice don’t sit well with coercion.
I’m no defender of Pipes. However, if memory serves, he is the one who spoke of Palestinian suffering, at which mention he was roundly booed.
Zhu Bajie says
I’ve heard Christian Zionist preachers say that Palestinians were Philistines or Canaanites and that all the curses on the Philistines and Canaanites apply to them now. I would not be surprised if that were a common view in US religious right circles.
Suleyman Schwartz says
The victim of booing in the incident mentioned by Ellen was Paul Wolfowitz, not Daniel Pipes. The incident occurred in Washington in 2002 on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
It is a serious error to think, as does POTL, that the answer to the problems of Islam is to try to establish moderate Islam as an “authoritative” standard. That would simply erect an orthodoxy that would stimulate more extremism in reaction to it. This could be accepted by Shias, who recognize theological hierarchies, but would never be accepted by Sunnis.
The answer is implicit in Pipes’ description of Qur’an — to fortify intellectual pluralism in Islam, which in fact represents Islamic tradition, and to marginalize the extremists.
The extremists cannot be “convinced.” They must be defeated and shown to be defeated, and reduced to a minority incapable of doing serious harm. This means, first of all, ending Saudi and Iranian support for them. Chasing a theological solution that would “convince” the extremists is to seek an absolute that does not and cannot exist. There will always be religious extremists in Islam as in every other religion — the point is to neutralize them.
As to who or what authority determines what is correct for Muslims the same standard should apply as for Jews — support for multiple interpretations leading to a general consensus. That is traditional Sunni practice.
Wallace Edward Brand says
For those who characterize Wilders and Pipes as “extremists”, I suggest that you read or listen to their talks at the December 14th conference “Facing Jihad”.
They seem to me to be the Winston Churchills of our time, trying to overcome the appeasement which could lead to millions of deaths.
Richard Silverstein says
How nice to know that Wilders & Pipes are sleeping together in the same bed. They make wonderful bedfellows. But Winston Churchill? Must you sully his name by associating with these clowns?