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February 14, 2016 3:48 am

Nothing Abides: Perspectives on the Middle East and Islam (REVIEW)

avatar by Edward Alexander

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12th century Koran displayed on Israel's National Library website during Ramadan. Photo: Israel's National Library .

12th century Koran displayed on Israel’s National Library website during Ramadan. Photo: Israel’s National Library .

Nothing Abides: Perspectives on the Middle East and Islam, by Daniel Pipes. Transaction Publishers, 2015.

More doggedly than any other expert on Middle East affairs Daniel Pipes has riveted his attention upon the threat that radical Islam poses to civilized life in nearly every corner of the globe. The Boston Globe was not indulging in hyperbole when it stated, “If Pipes’ admonitions had been heeded, there might never have been a 9/11.” He is the polar opposite to the willfully blind politicians who, as if to prove that the greatest deceivers are the self-deceivers, refuse even to identify the enemy by name and even (in Europe) impugn any criticism of the world’s most intolerant religion as a violation of  human rights. Faced by the naked aggression of a militant and aggressive form of Islam,  our own president, secretary of state, and those who now aspire to perpetuate their policies in Washington keep insisting that “climate change” is our main national-security concern. (Bernie Sanders would go one step further and, according to the Wall Street Journal of January 20, 2016, open “criminal investigation of climate dissenters.”)

Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum, and has taught at several universities as well as the US Naval War College. He is a public speaker of prodigious energy and singular courage in the face of Islamist intimidation. He has also made a major contribution to the debate over American foreign policy about how to put an end to the 68-year-old Arab war against Israel, which has forced its citizens to carry on their lives under a constant burden of peril such as no other nation has had to endure (unless we count the pre-Holocaust Jews of Eastern Europe as a nation without nationhood).

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Nothing Abides is a compendium of essays published by Pipes between 1994 and 2014. The title alludes to the “instability, volatility, and perpetual motion [that] continue to characterize Muslim communities.” It also takes for granted Samuel Huntington’s definition of the borders of “the religion of peace” as the “ceaseless wars waged by Muslims against non-Muslims, from the Christians of Iberia to the Hindus of Bali.” The essays are grouped in five sections: The Arab-Israeli Conflict; Middle Eastern Politics; Islam in Modern Life; Islam in the West; Individuals and American Islam. (Lest there be any confusion about Pipes’ position with respect to Muslims, he has encapsulated it thus: “My slogan is that radical Islam is the problem and moderate Islam is the solution.”)

Section 1, “The Arab-Israeli Conflict,” is likely to be of most immediate interest to readers of The Algemeiner. One of its topics is the (interminable) “peace process,” the peace processors and promoters, whose careers, in journalism and politics, demonstrate that in this realm nothing succeeds like failure, and (so Pipes argues) that “what is called the ‘peace process’ should actually be called the ‘war process.’”

In another essay, Pipes demolishes the Muslim claim to Jerusalem as entirely political rather than historical or religious. “Jerusalem appears in the Jewish Bible 669 times and Zion (which usually means Jerusalem) 154 times. In contrast, Jerusalem appears as frequently in the Koran as in the Hindu Bhagavad-Gita, the Taoist Tao-Te Ching, the Buddhist Dhamapada and the Zoroastrian Zend Avesta — which is to say, not once.” Palestine Arabs were, of course, keenly aware of the ancient Jewish and Christian attachment to Jerusalem, to say nothing of the fact that Palestine’s British colonial administrators and their children had for generations sung their aspiration to “build Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land” (recently altered in certain parts of the United Kingdom to “build Ramallah in England’s green and pleasant land”). Jerusalem did not become the focus of Arab political and religious activity until early in the twentieth century,  in response to both the Zionist movement and Britain’s assumption of the mandate for Palestine.

This contrived embrace of their “holy city” is but one aspect of what Pipes calls, in another essay, “Mirror Image: How the PLO Mimics Zionism.” Decades ago, Cynthia Ozick pointed to the way in which Palestinian Arabs have tried to hitch a ride on the mournful coattails of the whole Jewish experience of discrimination, oppression and murder. Pipes has brought this revolting story up to date, and in appalling detail. “To start with,” he points out,“the very delineation of a territory called ‘Palestine’ in 1920 was a Zionist achievement; had Jews not pressed the British government to create such a unit, Arabic-speakers of the area would have continued to see themselves living in a Greater Syria or in an Arab or Muslim nation; there simply would have been no Arab feeling for Filastin…Palestinian nationalists have …modeled their institutions, ideas, and practices on the Zionist movement.” Featured dates in Palestinian calendars, for example,  record actions and achievements not of their own but of the Jewish enemy.

Nowhere is this carbon copying of the Jews in general more evident and outrageous than in what I called, in an essay of 1980, “Stealing the Holocaust.” Lately this has incorporated the junk language of “inclusiveness,” so dear to the hearts of progressives. Here is Sir Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Great Britain until 2006: “The message of the Holocaust was ‘never again,’ and for that message to have practical effect on the world community, it has to be inclusive. We can never have double standards in terms of human life. Muslims feel hurt and excluded that their lives are not equally valuable to these lives lost in the Holocaust time.” How dare the Jews monopolize all that beautiful Holocaust suffering, in which we Palestinian Arabs would very much like, ex post facto, to be included; indeed, to claim for ourselves. Ruth Wisse has observed that “For some time now, and with ever greater forcefulness, Palestinian Arabs have been representing themselves as the real ‘Jews,’ systematically usurping all the symbols and terms of Jewish history and national consciousness…It may not be for us to question the Palestinian Arabs’ claim that they are a distinct Arab people, but if they are a people, why do they represent themselves as Jews?”

Those chapters of this lucidly written and very lively book most likely to appeal to all its readers are “Barack Obama’s Muslim Childhood,” “Lefty for Radical Islam: Dennis Kucinich,” and “The Rushdie Rules Ascendant.” The last returns to the subject of Pipes’ prophetic book (The Rushdie Affair: The Novel, the Ayatollah, and the West (1990) in which he (virtually alone) tried to alert the Western world to the enormous political implications of a government (Iran’s) picking a fight with a private individual, a mere novelist, in a foreign country (England), thereby calling into question the very notion of exile, and making a novel (The Satanic Verses) the occasion of a conflict between states. At this relatively early stage of what has become one of the most fully achieved careers of any Middle East expert, Pipes demonstrated how a quarrel over a book foretold the capitulation (starting in editorial boards and publishing houses, but culminating in the recent sham nuclear agreement) of America and the West to the technically competent religious fanatics of Persia.

Edward Alexander’s most recent book is Jews Against Themselves (Transaction, 2015). This article was first published in the Chicago Jewish Star.

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  • March 10, 2016. Roaring Springs, Texas, USA.

    A coming catastrophic event will solve at least one problem between Palestinians and Jews: the question [or problem] of who owns what in Jerusalem. Elijah, our forthcoming World Ruler, has said that Jerusalem [and three other world cities] will sustain a near-lethal attack by terrorists. This vicious attack will no doubt leave the religious sites in Jerusalem in heaps of rubble in the street. It is doubtful that Jerusalem will be rebuilt. [Also, we can expect that the deaths will number in the high thousands.]

  • Patrick Mosman

    ” “My slogan is that radical Islam is the problem and moderate Islam is the solution.”
    What is the difference between radical and moderate Islam and where in the world are the moderates?
    So where are the “Peaceful Muslims” when it come to Islamic
    terrorists?
    Where in America and the World are the peaceful Muslim protests:
    “Muslims
    against ISIS”,
    “Muslims against genocide of non-Muslims “,
    “Muslims against Boko Haram”,
    “Muslims against sharia”
    “Muslims against fatwas”
    “Muslims against suicide bombers”,
    “Muslims against car bombs”
    Where are the “Muslims protests against the Islamist murderers killing of American diplomats and innocent civilians in Paris and other place in the world?
    The sound of silence is deafening and silence signifies assent.

    • Ben Zalman

      Patrick Mosman …great reply! You said it right for all of us who know “Radical Islam” is terror for the whole world, and as you said..:The sound of silence is deafening and silence signifies assent”! “Moderate Muslims” indeed!

    • wolff bachner

      This has always been my argument with Pipes. He is brilliant, but as much as he wishes it were true, there is no such thing as moderate Islam. There is only Islam. The Qur’an is it truth and Mohammad is its profit. Derivative from those and you will die if you are in a Muslim majority nation.

      • wolff bachner

        I do apologize. I can’t believe I spelled prophet as profit. I need some sleep.

  • Y. Ben-David

    One of the most telling factors in observing Muslim pathology is the complete indifference with which they relate to the fratricidal slaughter their brother Muslims are inflicting one one another in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and other places in the “Dar al-Islam” (realm of Islam). Why don’t we see a pan-Muslim “peace movement” of Shi’ites and Sunnis marching together, demanding a stop to the butchery that is being carried out against their own people in the name of their religion, whose name Obama incorrectly said means “peace”? Okay, I will admit that in the authoritarian/totalitarian Muslim states of the Middle East it may very well be prohibited to create grass-roots movements and to organize demonstrations without official governmental approval, but why don’t we see such a thing in Paris, London or New York where such things are allowed? The only answer is that they simply don’t care, or they identify with one side of the killers if not the other.
    This puts the lie to the claims we hear from Muslim spokesmen like those of CAIR who constantly tell us that “Islam is a religon of peace and brotherhood” and “no Muslim would ever raise his hand against his brother Muslim” and, of course, it shows how false the claim is that “ISIS and other extremist groups have nothing to do with Islam”, because if that was true, real Muslims would be loudly denouncing the supposed “misrepresentation of their ‘peaceful’ religion”. Instead we have nothing more than a deafening silence.

  • stevenl

    Islam is Islam but there are moderate Muslims.

    • Mark

      Oh really?

      Over some 15 years now, I have found that moderate muslims are only moderate when they think they are fooling your.

      All so called moderates tell the same lies to disguise the evil nature that is in their MANINSTREAM books, quran, hadith and sirra.

  • Bruce Borrus

    Prof. Alexander’s thoughtful praise of Daniel Pipes’ essays is a must-read for anyone interested in the relationship between militant Muslims and Western Civilization.

  • Harry

    Pipe wrote this article about himself using himself in the 3rd person?

    It is true, every rock of Islam you turn over is more insane than the previous evil and censorship on their behalf by the evil German types.

    There is no majority Islamic country where there are not unpaid slave races, who do not recieve welfare, or payments. Take a random example Malaysia, Islamic Malaysia murdered out dozens of small races completely, and the 2 “foreign” races the Chinese and Indian do not recieve welfare as Ialimic citizens do, and for centuries, and do most of the work, and invented most of the country. They for generations were not allowed to be police by law and are permanent foreigners, Muslims are murdered in Malaysia if they convert, and marrying a Muslim is forbidden by law without conversion, They are obviously not allowed to testify against a Muslim, in any court, as Sharia deeply forbids that even for the people of the book Judeo-Christians. Eventually these ethnicities become ingrained with this foreigness, and work for the Muslims as their advocates, without rights.

    I do not care about this, it is that the whole Muslim world is the loudest accusing the Jews of this exact behaviour, while some Jews say it and none do it, Islam does it and censors it for over a thousand of years.

  • Darlene Casella

    Nothing Abides provides dazzling clarity to the murky layers of the Arab mindset. Those seeking a better understanding of the Middle East and the far reaching implications of the political role of Islam will not be disappointed in Pipes eloquent work.

  • Geoff

    The has become enslavemeed bye Political Correctness, Multi-Culturalism and Spocisl Justice . They haven’t turned the greatest Superpower Man has ever known understand the naraccistic delusional and incompetent leaderless leadership of the President Barak Obama into a fawning paper tiger coward of unlimited magnitude.

    EVIL has seen the vacuum and punched with a furious roar to assert itself upon the innocents and week wiled.

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