Let us count the embarrassments for the anti-war crowd over the past few days: any claim they might have had to speak for the Iraqi people has been revealed as a crock by the thousands of Iraqis celebrating Saddam's demise in Baghdad. Their estimates of civilian casualties have been off by a factor of about one hundred. Their hopes and dreams of a Vietnam-style quagmire have been swept aside in favor of the most impressive military victory that the Earth has ever seen. What's next for the peaceniks? Just like after Afghanistan, when embarrassed leftists changed the subject rather than admitting they were wrong, so too we can expect the elitist brats on American college campuses and the pseudo-sophisticates of continental Europe to bring their anti-intellectual obstinacy to a new cause, rather than learning from their spectacular failure on this one.
The new cause may well be a restarting of peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians. In a move that was hailed by the Bush Administration, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat named Mahmoud Abbas as the new Palestinian Prime Minister. Abbas is one of those legendary "Palestinian Moderates." If you've spent any time following the conflict, you will surely understand why that phrase needs ironical quotation marks.
Abbas is a peculiar moderate to say the least. In the 1980's he authored a book arguing that, not six million, but only a few hundred thousand or fewer Jews died during the Holocaust. Furthermore, he claimed that those Jews that did die perished as a result of a Zionist conspiracy whose goal was to accelerate the emigration of European Jewry to Palestine. Abbas has never explicitly repudiated his earlier claims. It is a mark of the depravity of Palestinian culture that they have introduced an entirely new political category to the world: The Holocaust-denying moderate.
This story has been relegated to a rather tertiary role in coverage of the peace process. Those few leftists who have addressed it directly have generally responded as follows: Yes, I find those statements to be despicable but they are irrelevant to Abbas's ability to make peace, and on the relevant issues, he is a moderate.' But both of those claims are false. The problem with the peace process has always been one of asymmetry: Israel has to give something tangible (land and all the strategic assets that come with it) while the Palestinians have to give something intangible (a promise of peace, rescindable whenever it is convenient for them). That is why the Israelis have to be able to trust whoever is in charge of the Palestinian government, before the occupation can end. A Jew-hating Holocaust denier is just not going to do the trick. So Abbas's sick mind is entirely relevant. Furthermore, it turns out, Abbas is not a moderate on the "relevant" issues either. He was one of the principal figures persuading Arafat to reject Israel's generous peace offer at Camp David in 2000, when Israel offered up 95% of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He has explicitly endorsed the Palestinian terror-campaign, insisting only that it be confined to East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, rather than extending into Israel proper. Here's a quick word of advice: if you hear someone described as a "Middle Eastern Moderate" examine what they have said before believing it. Many Middle Eastern academics, for example, argue against suicide bombings, not because it is a morally repugnant practice, but because it is harmful to Palestinian aspirations. To call such people moderates is not only pedagogically incorrect but in Abbas's case, it is profoundly offensive to the millions who were murdered in the Holocaust.
The double standard is striking. Jews who find it objectionable that the proposed Palestinian Prime Minister is a Holocaust-denier, are accused of ‘obstructing the peace process.' Meanwhile, we're all told that we must be sensitive about bigotry against Muslims, even in cases where such bigotry is nonexistent. Last year, President Bush characterized the War on Terrorism as a "crusade." This was an entirely innocuous, non-religious use of the word, intended to show American resolve in fighting terrorism. Nonetheless, the politically correct crowd tore into Bush, arguing that his bigotry had been put on display. Later, we were told that to attack Afghanistan on Ramadan would also be insensitive, even though Israel's neighbors ignored such considerations in attacking her on Yom Kippur of 1973, an action that, needless to say, is still justified by anti-Israel leftists across the world.
Indeed, a perfect example of such hypersensitivity when it comes to perceived bigotry against Muslims comes from an April 9th Cornell Daily Sun column by Umair Khan. Khan describes the appointment of scholar Daniel Pipes to the United States Institute of Peace as an insult to all Muslims. Pipes has written eleven books, is the director of the Middle East Forum, has been praised as a commentator on the Middle East by the Wall Street Journal and MSNBC among others, has published in dozens of magazines and has appeared on far too many television programs to list on this page. As Pipes points out on his website, the group leading the charge against him, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, actually quoted him at least twice as an authority on Islam before realizing that he was ideologically opposed to their agenda. He is eminently qualified.
Khan, while laying out Pipes argument that he always distinguishes between militant Muslims, and mainstream, patriotic Muslims, offers two pieces of evidence disputing this claim. First is the revelation that Pipes supports some limited forms of racial profiling. I have mixed feelings about racial profiling. But believing, for example, that Muslims should receive a little extra scrutiny at airports, is not in and of itself proof of racism. After September 11th, a poll found that 57% of whites approved of such security measures, while an even higher percentage of blacks, 71%, supported them as well. What do you say, Umair? Are all of these people anti-Muslim? Khan could argue that anyone who wants to make social distinctions based on race, religion or similar factors is necessarily a racist. This, however, would likely land him in conflict with the Daily Sun editorial board, which thinks that discrimination is defensible if one is a College Admissions Official engaging in social engineering. Apparently, the liberal view of discrimination is as follows: it's ok to shut people out of jobs and educational institutions based on race if one is trying to achieve "diversity" but it's not ok to inconvenience someone in an airport for five minutes when the cause is something so trifling as protecting human life.
Khan then tells us that Pipes has argued that the government should scrutinize mosques more closely than temples and churches. But Pipes is simply responding here to reformist Muslims like Muhammad Hisham Kabbani who have estimated that radical Islamists control up to eighty percent of American Muslim Institutions. Pipes has long argued that mainstream, patriotic Muslims constitute the vast majority of America's Islam adherents. Rather than accusing Pipes of bigotry, patriotic Muslims should take proactive steps to let it be known that groups like CAIR don't speak for them.
CAIR itself provides a good example of the phenomenon Pipes describes. Often hailed as the most ‘moderate' (there's that word again!) of American Islamic Groups, CAIR has a history that suggests anything but moderation. CAIR's attack against a reformist Muslim named Khalid Duran led to a death edict issued against him, which CAIR has never condemned. In a 1998 CAIR rally, a speaker referred to Jews as the descendants of pigs and apes. A potential unindicted co-conspirator of the 1993 World Trade Center Attacks sits on its board. Steve Pomerantz, FBI Chief of Counterterrorism, has said "CAIR, its leaders, and its activities, effectively give aid to international terrorist groups." Or, check out this quote from Omar M. Ahmad, CAIR chairman, in a 1998 rally of California Muslims: "Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth." Just as a Holocaust-denier is deemed a moderate in the Middle East, so too, a virulently anti-Semitic, chauvinistic group like CAIR is deemed moderate here in America. Yet Khan approvingly quotes such a group in railing about entirely fictitious prejudice of Daniel Pipes.
Finally, Khan gives us the standard denunciation of Pipes's Campus Watch website, which collects some of the more outrageous quotations of anti-American, anti-Israel, and anti-Western College Professors. It is quite hilarious that Khan describes this Website, which merely collects the professors' words and uses it to improve the study of the Middle East, as ‘McCarthyistic,' while his own behavior of recklessly accusing a noted scholar like Daniel Pipes of trying to shut Muslims out of American political life, far more closely approximates the term. One Cornell Professor, Ali Mazrui, was added to the Campus Watch website after he delivered a 45 minute diatribe against Israel in which he equated Ariel Sharon with Hitler, Israel with South Africa of Apartheid and Zionism with fascism. Needless to say, Mazrui isn't going to be a guest at anyone's Passover Seder in the near future. Campus Watch isn't trying to get abominations like Mazrui fired. They're merely showing the outside world the kind of radicalism that passes for scholarship on college campuses, with the aim of improving the discourse. Yet, a bunch of intellectual cowards have somehow convinced students like Khan that it's crucial that they get to say whatever they want, no matter how appalling it may be, but that it is somehow "McCarthyistic" when scholars like Pipes use the same First Amendment to expose their morally degenerate leftism. Lenin once described the West's Soviet sympathizers as ‘useful idiots.' For today's leftists, only the second half of that phrase applies.