|War of words over Bush's
WASHINGTON - US Arab and Muslim
groups are continuing their opposition to the nomination
of an outspoken Middle East scholar to a federally
funded peace institute, but the administration says
Daniel Pipes might now even get his place without a
President George W Bush nominated
Pipes to the board of directors of the United States
Institute for Peace (USIP) in April, but the move has
been stalled by concerns about Pipes' highly
controversial views on the Muslim world and the
Arab-Israeli conflict, among others.
the president suggested he might use a "recess
appointment" to place Pipes, director of the
Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum, in the USIP
position while the Senate is on its summer break. The
appointment would last until the next Congress is sworn
in, potentially 2005.
"Such an appointment,
which would bypass the legitimate role of the Senate on
such nominations, would be an inappropriate manner to
install an inappropriate nominee," Hussein Ibish, the
spokesperson of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination
Committee, told Inter Press Service on Friday.
"This back-door move by the president is a
defeat for democracy and an affront to all those who
seek peace," Ibrahim Hooper, communications director of
the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a
At a meeting last month of the Senate
committee on health, education, labor and pensions, the
body that would have taken the initial vote on the
nomination, several senators expressed opposition to
"The United States Institute of
Peace is the last place that we need someone who is
going to be a lightning rod for controversy - and Mr
Pipes is a lightning rod. If he is on the board, more of
the talk is going to be about him and his views than it
will be about the work of the entire institute," said
Democratic Senator Tom Harking. That meeting ended
without a vote.
Opposition to Pipes' nomination
also comes from a number of newspapers, including the
Washington Post, the Dallas Morning News and the Chicago
Tribune. Pipes' nomination also caused controversy
within the Jewish community, with peace groups opposing
his nomination but other bodies, such as the American
Jewish Committee (AJC), endorsing the decision.
Pipes has used his work to "alert the American
public to the dangers posed by extremist Islamism in
this country and abroad", wrote the AJC's Harold Tanner
and David Harris. "At the same time, Dr Pipes has been a
defender and champion of moderate Islam."
expert on radical Islam, Pipes has long infuriated Arab
organizations with his warnings on Islamic
fundamentalism and its threat to US security. But his
opinions have ranged far wider.
European societies are unprepared for the massive
immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange
foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene ...
all immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but
Muslim customs are more troublesome than most," he told
the National Review in 1990.
Pipes has called for law-enforcement bodies to use
racial and ethnic profiling and has fiercely advocated
that mosques in the United States be regular targets of
"This man's hateful views
stand outside the mainstream American tradition of
equality and tolerance. He is a bigot. He promotes fear
and hatred of many communities, not just Arabs and
Muslims," said Ibish. "His attacks on African-Americans
are particularly vicious. He is also a strident opponent
of the Oslo peace process and President Bush's roadmap
for peace," he added.
"And interestingly enough,
it was Pipes who in the 1980s was criticizing the
administration for not giving enough support to Saddam
Pipes has established a project called
Campus Watch, a website run by the Middle East Forum
that monitors the work of Middle East scholars for
pro-Arab bias. Many scholars have likened it to academic
"Daniel Pipes is not a
credible, non-biased person. This involves his points on
Islam but also his intellectual credibility. He is
literally harassing fellow [academics] by establishing a
monitoring website," said Mahdi Bray, executive director
of the Muslim American Society-Freedom Foundation.
She also criticized the White House's role in
the nomination process. "I think the reason is pretty
obvious. It's the Christian Right. Daniel Pipes fits to
this constituency and has friends among them. And it has
been the core constituency of this president, and that's
why he is doing this step," Bray said.
created the USIP in 1984 as an independent, non-partisan
federal institution to "promote the prevention,
management and peaceful resolution of international
conflicts". The esteemed institute's bipartisan
15-member board is appointed by the president and
confirmed by the Senate. Critics fear that the current
controversy could severely damage the USIP's integrity
"Given Mr Pipes' opposition to
the president's call for understanding and respect and
his disdain for the principles of conflict resolution,
any such appointment must be seen in the larger context
as an attempt to undercut the very mission of the USIP,"
said the Arab American Institute in a statement.
"With someone of Mr Pipes' caliber serving on
its board, our friends and allies around the world will
undoubtedly have questions about whether we are serious
about ending violence and what we mean by 'conflict
resolution'." the institute added.