Media Microscope: In the Lion’s Den
Apr 3, 2018 | Allon Lee
During his 13th trip to Australia, noted Middle East analyst Daniel Pipes, President of the Middle East Forum, proved that his insights and analyses on a range of world affairs were in great demand.
On Sky News‘ “Outsiders” (March 4), Pipes predicted that US President Donald Trump would seek to “impose a settlement” on the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Israel “will be very unhappy with it”, he said, because the terms will be “very favourable to the Palestinians.” Trump’s plan would recognise east Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, see the Old City become internationalised and seek a reduction in the settlements. The Palestinians would be expected to renounce their claim of a right of return.
Pipes proposed his own alternative, saying Israel needs to “show the Palestinians that this long-term conflict is over. The Palestinians have lost by any standard, the Israelis have won and it’s time to move on. It’s time for the Palestinians to build their own polity, economy, society and culture…I would like our governments – American, Australian and others – to say to the Israelis, within legal, moral and practical constraints, do what you need to do to convey to the Palestinians that the gig is up, the conflict is over.” He said Arab leaders have reached that conclusion too and are eager to deal with Israel.
ABC Radio National‘s “Between the Lines” host Tom Switzer (March 15) asked about Trump’s Palestinian-Israeli foreign policy realignments.
Pipes said Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was designed to “take this issue off the table as a step forward, to be followed by other steps. In other words, he has a plan.”
He dismissed the 128 countries opposing the decision saying “you could be discussing breakfast foods, the United Nations would vote 128 to 5 against Israel. In other words, the United Nations is a bunch of blocs.”
Pipes said he supports a Palestinian state in principle, but cautioned against creating one “at this point” whilst Palestinians harbour “irredentist, eliminationist ambitions to end the Jewish State of Israel.”
On ABC TV‘s “Matter of Fact” (March 5), host Stan Grant discussed the power struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia, with Pipes explaining that “the Iranians are on the offensive. In part because that’s their ideology. In part because they received such a windfall from the Iran [nuclear] deal…they are seeking to expand their influence.” But, he said, ordinary Iranians are frustrated that sanctions relief hasn’t been spent on improving living standards.
In the Daily Telegraph, columnist Miranda Devine (March 4) focused on Pipes’ observation that “the Islamist surge peaked in 2012 and is now in decline.”
Devine quoted Pipes’ justification for making this claim, which included internal divisions within the Islamist movement and the rejection of the violence perpetrated by groups like ISIS, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda which “are causing Muslims to say, ‘this is not the Islam I want, this is scary.'”
On Sky News’ “Credlin” (March 6), Pipes said that ISIS’s dream of re-establishing the Caliphate may be over but other groups will likely try to succeed where it failed.
Ahead of Pipes’ visit, the Australian (Feb. 27) reported the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils condemned him as a proponent of “anti-Islamic rhetoric” and wanted Jewish organisations to withdraw their support.
Pipes defended himself, saying, “As for Islam itself I don’t have a position on it. As I don’t have a position on Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism. The phrase I am known for is ‘radical Islam is a problem and moderate Islam is a solution’. In other words, this Islamism is a challenge to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.”
After his departure from Australia, the ABC “Religion & Ethics” website (March 8) ran a screed by academic Chloe Patton that said Pipes is guilty of “rhetoric of a Muslim takeover of the West… structured along very similar lines to anti-Semitic propaganda. The issues at the centre of Pipes’s work are no more worthy of discussion than fantasies about Jews plotting to take over the banking system.”
Patton’s long article cherry-picked Pipes’ writings to falsely accuse him of promoting hate against Muslims. A quick internet search shows Pipes has repeatedly articulated the need to differentiate the 1,400 year old faith of Islam from the modern totalitarian ideology of Islamism.
The ABC has commissioned a detailed response from AIJAC, which was awaiting publication as the AIR went to print.