Controversial right-wing author, professor and Webmaster Daniel Pipes spoke to a packed hall at McGill's Stewart Biology Building last Wednesday night as part of the "24 Hours For Israel" series organized by Hillel McGill. Pipes, probably best known for his website, CampusWatch.org, was in town to deliver a lecture entitled "The Palestinian Israeli War: Where did it come from, how to end it?"
"This is war," Pipes declared to a mostly enthusiastic crowd. "The Palestinian war goal is the destruction of Israel, and nothing else."
Pipes, who was preceded at the podium by Israel's new Consul General in Montreal, argued that Israel must conduct an "all out war," and that the Palestinians must be made to endure "deprivation and loss" so that they "cry uncle." On several occasions, Pipes compared the conflict to World War Two with the Palestinians playing the part of the Nazis.
When pressed by audience members during the question period, Pipes repeatedly refused to state whether he considered the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip to be part of Israel. Playing coy, he would only say, "I'm not going to talk about it."
Pipes also proved elusive when questioned about the legality of Israel's settlement program, claiming that it was "not a topic that I know a whole lot about, or think is important."
Many in attendance gasped audibly when Pipes praised American support for what he called "democratization" in Latin America during the 1980s.
"You were talking about the United States spreading democracy, I think you were having in mind Chile?" one audience member asked Pipes rhetorically.
Outside the building about a dozen peaceful protesters with a sign reading "Muslims for Peace" distributed literature to the arriving audience. Organizers of the protest included the Muslim Students' Associations of McGill and Concordia.
"[Pipes' appearance] is a very damaging thing for the atmosphere of understanding and mutual respect on our campus." said Isam Faik, President of McGill's Muslim Student Association. "We are here to express our concern about this."
Critics charge Pipes with demagoguery and promoting intolerance towards Arabs and Muslims. He was also widely denounced for his practice of encouraging individuals to "report" institutions and academics who were "anti-American" or "anti-Israeli" to his website where the names were then posted. The public blacklist has since been removed following a barrage of criticism from many quarters.
In an article published in the New York Post a few days after Sept. 9, when protests stopped former Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu from speaking at ConU, Pipes accused the Concordia demonstrators of being "a North American face of the suicide bombings" and contrasted what he termed "the civilized nature of Israel" with "the raw barbarism of Israel's enemies."