Falsehood 1: The Middle East Forum is anti-Muslim, or “Islamophobic.”
Fact 1: Far from being biased against Muslims, MEF challenges a radical ideology responsible for unfathomable Muslim suffering, and one which most Muslims reject. Middle East Forum President Daniel Pipes has been emphasizing the distinction between Islamism and the Islamic religion – and between the “completely justified fear of Islamists and unjustified fear of all Muslims” – for decades.
The only people who maintain there is little or no distinction between detesting Islamism and detesting Muslims are Islamists themselves and fellow travelers of the sort quoted above. The “Islamophobia” accusations they level at MEF and others are designed to conflate Islamism and Islam, claiming an attack on one is an attack on the other.
This conflation also attempts to delegitimize non-Islamist Muslims working to free their faith from the grip of extremists, and it is no coincidence that Muslim reformers are often viciously attacked. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a far-left organization known for its often inaccurate claims, lists Maajid Nawaz of the Quilliam Foundation alongside Mr. Pipes as an “anti-Muslim extremist.”
A lot of money finances these allegations. The Center for American Progress, for example, received a $200,000 grant from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations (OSF) to “research and track the activities” of the Middle East Forum and other NGOs working to combat the spread of radical Islam in America. The Brookings Institution’s recent focus on so-called “Islamophobia” in America likely has much to do with its decade-long partnership with Qatar, which provided it with a $14.8 million 4-year grant in 2013.
The latest organization to level the “Islamophobia” accusation at MEF is the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF), which lashed out after we revealed publicly that it had provided $330,524 to two extremist organizations, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Islamic Relief. It turns out SVCF is getting paid too. According to its 990 form, the extremist International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) provided SVCF with $500,000 in “program assistance” in 2015.
Falsehood 2: Daniel Pipes regards Muslim organizations as subversive.
Jewish Voice for Peace: “Pipes views almost every possible Muslim activity as subversive and threatening.”
Center for American Progress: “The alarmist rhetoric of Daniel Pipes … brand[s] Muslims, Sharia, and even the instruction of Arabic as affronts to American freedom.
Fact 2: In keeping with Mr. Pipes’ oft-repeated belief that “radical Islam is the problem, moderate Islam is the solution,” MEF’s Islamist Watch project was established with a mission to “expose the Islamist organizations that currently dominate the debate, while identifying and promoting the work of moderate Muslims.”
MEF has a long history of supporting, employing, and collaborating with Muslims working to free their community and faith from the grip of Islamists.
See a list here of Muslim organizations the Forum regards as vital allies in this fight, some of whom it helps fund.
Falsehood 3: Pipes supports interning Muslims, akin to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
Jewish Voice for Peace: “The Southern Poverty Law Center notes that ‘Pipes endorsed the internment of Muslims in America,’ referencing WWII Japanese American concentration camps as a model to be used against Muslims today.”
Silicon Valley Community Foundation: “Daniel Pipes, president of Middle East Forum, has written in support of the model of Japanese internment camps in relation to American Muslims.”
Fact 3: This canard is a paradigmatic example of how charges initially levelled by one radical organization metastasize through repetition by others. The SPLC report misquoted at right by Jewish Voice for Peace actually states, “In 2004, Pipes endorsed the internment of ethnic Japanese in American prison camps in World War II and held that up as a model for dealing with Muslims today.”
But even this isn’t true. In 2005 an Islamist organization in Canada had to apologize and make a charitable donation to the Middle East Forum for making this claim.
The original article did not argue for internment camps as a model (a follow-up explaining how CAIR and others distorted Pipes’ position can be read here), but rather concluded with support for author Michelle Malkin’s thesis about threat profiling: “She correctly concludes that, especially in time of war, governments should take into account nationality, ethnicity, and religious affiliation in their homeland security policies.”
Falsehood 4: MEF is wrong to label CAIR as “terrorism-linked.”
Fact 4: Here are many reasons why MEF can reasonably describe CAIR as “terrorism-linked.”
· CAIR was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial.
|Clockwise from top left: Randall (“Ismail”) Royer, Ghassan Elashi, Bassem Khafagi, Rabih Haddad, Nabil Sadoun, and Muthanna Al-Hanooti|
· During that trial, U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Solis concluded that, “The government has produced ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR…with Hamas.”
· In 2014, the United Arab Emirates, a Muslim ally of the United States, designated CAIR a terrorist organization.
· Six CAIR leaders have been arrested, convicted, or deported for terrorism-related crimes: Randall (“Ismail”) Royer, Ghassan Elashi, Bassem Khafagi, Rabih Haddad, Nabil Sadoun, and Muthanna Al-Hanooti.
· CAIR itself implicitly acknowledged the truth when it settled a 2004 libel lawsuit against a group making this allegation called Anti-CAIR, with no apology, retraction, or removal of offending Internet materials.
Falsehood 5: CAIR, Islamic Relief, and other Muslim groups criticized by MEF are respectable civil rights organizations.
Jewish Voice for Peace: “Contrary to the Middle East Forum’s smear campaign, CAIR is a nationally-recognized civil rights organization that has received praise from seventeen U.S. Senators and 85 U.S. Representatives from both sides of the political aisle.”
Fact 5: CAIR and Islamic Relief are focused on promoting social insularity and distrust of authorities among U.S. Muslims, not defending their civil rights. In fact, both groups frequently host and promote extremist speakers who advocate against civil rights as most Americans understand them.
Siraj Wahhaj, for example, preaches that homosexuality is a “disease” of society, that the punishment for adultery is death, and that Muslims shouldn’t have non-Muslim friends. Omar Suleiman has rationalized honor killings, telling women thinking of promiscuity that they could be killed by their fathers for “offending Allah.” Jamal Badawihas said that men have a right to beat their wives. Abdul Nasir Jangda has argued that they have the right to rape their wives.
Falsehood 6: CAIR and Islamic Relief have clean bills of health on links to terrorism from the federal government and from charity watchdogs.
Silicon Valley Community Foundation: “The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Islamic Relief … are nonprofit organizations in good standing with federal agencies, and do not appear on any U.S. government list as having been tied to terrorism.”
Silicon Valley Community Foundation: “GuideStar reports … whether a nonprofit organization is identified as a ‘Specially Designated National’ on the Office of Foreign Asset Control’s list. In simpler terms, this is the list of U.S. organizations designated as having links to terrorist organizations. Neither CAIR nor Islamic Relief is on this list.”
Fact 6: The FBI and Department of Justice blacklisted CAIR after it was designated by federal prosecutors as an “unindicted co-conspirator” during the 2008 Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial. CAIR and Islamic Relief may be legal organizations in the United States, but both have been declared terrorist organizations by the United Arab Emirates.
SVCF misrepresents the Specially Designated National list, claiming that it contains all organizations designated as “having links to terrorist organizations.” In fact, it lists only foreign organizations and individuals. In any event, MEF does not accuse CAIR of presently engaging in or financing acts of terrorism; the problem is that it promotes ideologies that spawn terrorists and supports individuals who justify terrorism.
GuideStar (2nd false statement at right) is not a source by which to gauge if a charity is extremist or has links to terrorism. By this standard, the New Century Foundation, which publishes the white nationalist magazine American Renaissance, and the Charles Martel Society, which funds articles attacking “Jewish influence,” get passing scores.
Falsehood 7: MEF’s activism against Islamist groups and/or scrutiny of academia is driven primarily by loyalty to Israel.
Jewish Voice for Peace: Daniel Pipes “founded Campus Watch, an organization that has compiled dossiers on professors deemed too critical of Israel.” The Middle East Forum “deploys anti-Muslim and anti-Arab tropes to bolster U.S. support for the State of Israel.”
CAIR: The Middle East Forum is a “right-wing group that focuses on individuals and organizations that espouse views different from theirs on Israel’s security and its role in the Middle East.”
Fact 7: MEF is a research institution that promotes American interests. Islamist Watch presents factual research on the influence and activity of non-violent U.S.-based Islamist groups and their leaders. Some oppose Israel, to be sure, but most are more focused on targeting women, homosexuals, and others.
Campus Watch researches, analyzes, and critiques the academic study of the Middle East. It argues against “analytical failures, the mixing of politics with scholarship, intolerance of alternative views, apologetics, and the abuse of power over students,” but it accepts divergent perspectives. Campus Watch recently published a favorable review of a lecture at the City University of New York (CUNY) by Sari Nusseibeh, a former senior PLO representative under Yasser Arafat whose views hardly qualify as pro-Israeli. A cursory examination of the project’s research articles demonstrates that the characterization of Campus Watch as Israel-centered is false. As for the “dossiers,” CW took down those initial eight profiles 15 years ago in favor of an institution-focused survey method.
Falsehood 8: Daniel Pipes and the Middle East Forum have funded the political campaigns of Dutch right-wing leader Geert Wilders.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “David Horowitz and Daniel Pipes are reported to have put some $150,000 of foundation money into his campaign.”
Fact 8: Not a penny from Daniel Pipes or the Middle East Forum has gone to Wilders personally, his political party, or his campaign.
MEF did provide a grant to pay legal bills in Mr. Wilders’ trial over his film on radical Islam.
As the New York Times notes: “the funds that were sent to Geert Wilders were to help him in his legal cases and were not political donations.”
Falsehood 9: Campus Watch seeks to stifle academic freedom.
CAIR: Campus Watch [is] part of a larger anti-intellectual campaign aimed at regulating discourse on the Middle East.
Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, The Nation: Campus Watch is “neo-McCarthyite” and part of the “New McCarthyism” that seeks to silence anyone with whom it disagrees.
Fact 9: Campus Watch critiques contemporary Middle East studies, which years ago jettisoned rigorous scholarship and teaching for politicized, biased, and inferior work. There is nothing wrong with scrutinizing and criticizing academic research.
No cliché is more hackneyed, no charge intellectually lazier than that CW engages in “McCarthyism” (see right). Unlike the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy, Campus Watch—a private organization—neither possesses nor seeks the ability to silence or persecute anyone.
Only in the fevered imaginations of some professors do rigorous critiques by outsiders equate with an anti-Communist witch-hunt.
Falsehood 10: Daniel Pipes has lost the support of his former academic colleagues
Al Jazeera [interviewing a spokesman from the Center for American Progress]: Pipes has a “scholarly background, but … he has lost the support of many of the people he used to work with, and associate with, when he was a well-respected scholar.”
Fact 10: Mr. Pipes never stopped being a “well-respected scholar” When President George W. Bush nominated him to the board of directors of the U.S. Institute of Peace in 2003, 30 academics signed a letter in support of the appointment. For a more recent example, Professor Edward Alexander of the University of Washington lavished praise in 2016 on Pipes’ Nothing Abides.
That said, it is true that a radicalized academia condemns Pipes and the Forum for their mainstream outlook – and especially for their role in exposing the failure of Middle East studies.