The Provost Global Issues Lecture series continued last week with Dr. Daniel Pipes, a renowned columnist for both the New York Post and Jerusalem Post. He is recognized as one of the leading scholars on the Middle East. Sponsored by Hillel, the lecture began with a rundown of Dr. Pipe’s extensive list of accomplishments and qualifications, not the least of which was a PhD in History from Harvard.
Pipes first expressed his gratitude for the invitation. He started with a note on “how things have gone wrong” in Israel. Ten years ago, according to Pipes, there was a great deal of hope for the fate of Israel. But in 1993, the Oslo Accords, a series of agreements between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, was sealed. In the Accords, Israel made concessions to try and relax tensions in the Arab-dominated Middle East.
This, according to Dr. Pipes, was the cause of the degeneration of the situation in Israel over the past decade. When Israel came to form in 1948, it was viewed by Arab neighbors as a temporary power, and as a danger by her enemies. By 1993, Israel’s acceptance within the area had slowly increased.
In 1993, Israel’s neighbors utilized a different approach toward her, one of tepid acceptance. And after Oslo, Israel gave Palestine autonomy and finally obtained formal acceptance by other countries. But this seemingly harmonious atmosphere was not to last long.
“As Israel began to make concessions to its enemies…they began to see it as vulnerable,” Pipes said.
This effect was worsened in May of 2000 when Israel pulled out from its military conflicts in Lebanon in order to save lives. The Lebanese announced that they had the first Arab military victory against Israel. According to Pipes, the consensus became, “We beat them, we can do it again.”
After this occurrence, the people of Palestine caught a fever of nationalism. Since Lebanon had defeated Israel, Palestinians questioned what Pipes called their “compromised form of sovereignty.”
In September of 2000, the Palestinians decided to push out the Israelis with violence, like the Lebanese had done only a few months before.
The notion that Israel could be destroyed was now rooted. Pipes asserted that this was the consequence of failed diplomacy due to the Oslo Accords.
Dr. Pipes acknowledged seven key implications of the Israeli conflict. The first was the problem of Arab rejectionism, meaning the Arabic countries refused to accept Israel’s existence. Even if they concede to the requests of the Arabs, according to Pipes, Israel will always be considered weaker.
The second point is the tragic situation of everyone involved. The West sympathizes with Israel, but Pipes emphasized his belief the Arabs are suffering even more, especially in Palestine.
Pipes’s third point was that Israel’s efforts are fruitless. They have won war after war and even tried diplomacy, which ended up hurting them.
Despite all of this, they still retain their “existential quality.” His next assertion was that, for a solution to this problem of Arab rejectionism, there needs to be an Arab change of heart.
“The burden is on the Arabs to change,” Pipes said.
Pipes added that there is no advantage to the concessions made by Israel, but that the concessions serve only to reconfirm the nation’s weakness. Forthe Arabs, according to Pipes, violence works. He claimed that “Israel’s burden, then, is to be tough,” and to show her enemies that she can’t be destroyed.
The sixth point made was that the purpose of violence is to impose the will of one entity on another. Pipes reminded the audience that the Lebanese use of violence worked in that the violence achieved the country’s goals.
Lastly, Pipes explained that the problem with the Oslo Accords was timing, not details. Pipes said that once Israel is accepted, something like Oslo is plausible, but until then, diplomacy only makes Israel seem weak.
“US policy must ratchet down,” Pipes said in his concluding remarks.
He cited the United States as the achievement of peace, and said that we should be avoidant of war. Pipes asserted that the country needs a more modest goal, and must give up the illusion of peace, harmony, and free trade in order to simply save lives.
After Pipes’ speech, the lecture became really heated. The questions section of the event soon turned into a battlefield. The Muslim Students Association(MSA) established its presence with many members in attendance.
Some questions were aimed furiously at Dr. Pipes, at times even berating his speech. One student insulted him, after which Pipes refused to answer the student’s question. The topics discussed included what Palestine would do after they get rid of rejectionism and what concessions Israel really did make. One student even questioned the lecturer’ s objectivity.
The event soon turned into a clapping contest. One side of the auditorium,mostly the MSA and other pro-Palestine individuals, would applaud after each firm pro-Palestinian argument was made. The other side of the audience responded with their own applause after arguments that praised Israel and berated Palestine.
“That was really intense,” said freshman Mira Kinariwala, after the lecture. “I didn’t know the school was so divided on the whole Israel-Palestineissue.”