Just as Islamists and other anti-Israel forces have become “more creative” in their tactics to demonize the Jewish state, it is incumbent for Israel’s friends to find new ways to creatively promote their agenda, said Daniel Pipes.
“The delegitimization of Israel very much involves new methods constantly being developed,” said Pipes in a phone interview with NJJN. “That delegitimization is growing and growing and as the threat from weapons of mass destruction decrease, the real battlefield is the battlefield of public opinion.”
Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum and currently the Taube Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.
He will serve as scholar-in-residence at Congregation Neve Shalom in Metuchen April 20-21 through the Scholar-in-Residence Fund, Ohev Shalom Endowment, and the Gilbert and Claudie Hayat Endowment.
His Friday evening presentation will be an overview of the Middle East, and on Saturday he will speak about the “Threat to Israel’s Existence, Why It’s Back and How to Deal With It.”
Pipes, said education director Hazzan Sheldon Levin, “came highly recommended to us as one of the world’s leading experts on issues involving Israel and the Middle East.”
Pipes is a consistent critic of radical Islam, with a blog that often sounds warnings about what he says is the long reach of extremism and the West’s unwillingness to confront it. In recent columns and posts, he predicted that Israel’s Arab citizens will grow “more ambitious to throw off Jewish sovereignty.” He has criticized NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s “unremitting…friendly attitude toward Islamists” and recently updated his ongoing discussion of whether President Obama is a Muslim.
Pipes said Israel “is under a barrage of threats” but has managed to contain many of the problems on its own.
“No other country in the world faces this number of threats but Israel,” he said. “They have managed to handle four of these things — conventional weaponry, terrorism, demographics, and economics, which leaves two — ideological deligitimization and WMDs.”
While the issue of nuclear weapons is “largely out of our hands” and is based on the decisions made by the United States and other governments, the Jewish community can help Israel through its public actions.
“The American-Jewish community really needs to be engaged, and this is something that is open to anyone,” said Pipes.
He said the community needs to educate itself on the many ways opponents are delegitimizing Israel. “Right now Macy’s is being pressured to drop Ahava [beauty products] and other Israeli lines,” he said, and supporters of an anti-Israel boycott urged his local supermarket in Philadelphia to drop Sabra-brand hummus (unsuccessfully, it turns out).
Pipes said it’s important to accentuate the positive; while the number of radical Islamists has increased in recent years, so has the number of moderates. “I think it’s important to identify the non-radical voices and show our support for them while isolating the more radical forces.”
While he advocates working with moderate Muslims, he is troubled by certain interfaith events on college campuses.
“When Hillel has an activity with the Muslim Student Association, Hillel is helping to legitimize a very radical organization,” said Pipes. Although its does vary from campus to campus, he said, “at its core the Muslim Student Association is quite radical.”