Groups Say Peace Institute Choice Sends ‘Wrong Message’
Washington Post, Apr. 7, 2003
By Alan Cooperman, Washington Post Staff Writer
It’s Round 3 of the bare-knuckle slugfest between Daniel Pipes and U.S. Muslim organizations.
The first round was on the Internet, and it went to Pipes. The second round was on college campuses, and it went to Muslim groups. Round 3 is at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
President Bush last week nominated Pipes for a seat on the board of directors of USIP, a nonpartisan, federal think tank established by Congress to promote “the prevention, management and resolution of international conflicts.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a D.C.-based civil rights group, called on the White House to rescind the nomination or the Senate to reject it.
Many American Muslims regard Pipes as “the nation’s leading Islamophobe,” the council said in an e-mail to its supporters.
Pipes is a prolific scholar and commentator on the Middle East who warned long before Sept. 11, 2001, of the threat to the United States from Islamic radicals.
He runs a Philadelphia think tank called the Middle East Forum, writes columns for the New York Post and the Jerusalem Post, appears frequently on television talk shows and has written 11 books, including four on Islam.
His positions are controversial. He says Muslim government employees in law enforcement, the military and the diplomatic corps “need to be watched for connections to terrorism.” He also contends that “mosques require a scrutiny beyond that applied to churches and temples.”
CAIR and other Muslim groups call him a bigot.
“Pipes’s nomination sends entirely the wrong message as America seeks to convince Muslims worldwide that the war on terrorism and the war against Iraq are not attacks on Islam,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.
“Pipes’s anti-Muslim polemics have had the opposite impact of that sought by the institute. His views promote unending conflict, not peace.”
Pipes declined to comment on his presidential appointment, but he denied the charge of bigotry.
“For reasons of its own, CAIR has been trying for years to place me in the category of those who consider Islam the enemy, which is not where I belong,” he said. “My position is that militant Islam is the problem, and moderate Islam is the solution.”
The fracas over Pipes’s nomination is unusual for the USIP, which has generally kept a low profile and developed a reputation as an institution that is solid, middle-of-the-road and even somewhat boring.
To ensure the institute’s independence, Congress stipulated at its inception in 1984 that its 15-member board can never have more than eight voting members of the same political party. Board members meet six times a year and are paid $400 a day when working on institute business.
USIP spokesman John Brinkley said the group would not comment on Pipes’s qualifications. “We work happily with whoever they choose to put on our board,” he said.
The institute has a particular motive for wanting to avoid political trouble right now, as it starts an $80 million fund drive to build a new headquarters on Constitution Avenue facing the Mall.
Pipes and Muslim groups, in contrast, have scores to settle.
At the end of 2000, Pipes put up a Web site to promote his writings, www.danielpipes.org. About the same time, someone else put up www.danielpipes.com, which transported visitors to a page on CAIR’s Web site titled, “Who Is Daniel Pipes?”
Threatening a lawsuit, Pipes won back the rights to his domain name after about a year. CAIR denies it was behind the crafty appropriation of Pipes’s name. Last year, the feud deepened when Pipes founded Campus Watch, a group devoted to exposing college teachers, events and organizations that justify terrorism, denigrate Israel and support radical Islam. CAIR and other Muslim groups decried the move as a threat to academic freedom and an effort to chill pro-Palestinian speech.
They won a show of solidarity when more than 100 professors across the country asked Pipes to add their names to his watch list.
CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said hundreds of CAIR’s supporters have written to the White House asking the president to withdraw Pipes’s nomination. Hooper said the group has not received a response from the White House.