Daniel C Peterson On Daniel Pipes

Background: A copy of my e-mailed to Daniel C. Peterson, Ph.D. regarding some questions I had about Dr. Daniel Pipes. Also, Dr. Peterson’s response is copied below. Dr. Peterson approved the posting of his response to my e-mail.


Brother Peterson:


First, I want to personally thank you for all your efforts at FAIR. I think your posts would make an excellent book for all aspiring apologist. Again, ThankYouVeryMuch!


Because of your expertise in Islam and the Middle East, I would like your professional opinion of Dr. Daniel Pipes. Do you consider Dr. Pipes’s to be an expert and a scholar on the Middle East and Islam? In other words, is he someone I can trust and rely on to tell it like it is, or is he simply an anti-Muslim? I’ve been reading his websites for a few years now and find him to be level headed, scholarly, and well versed in the areas of Militant Islam, Arab-Israel conflict, Syria, and American Muslims.


I ask this because some LDS believe the following about Dr. Pipes: “Daniel Pipes is a demagogue with absolutely no interest in scholarly debate…writes rubbish…His failure to acknowledge the diversity of the debate…please choose someone that bothers to read what they write…”


And because I know what it’s like to have my faith misrepresented, I do not wish to give credence to Dr. Pipes’s work if he is in fact the “Muslim Expert” equivalent of Decker/Tanner et al.


If, in your opinion, Dr. Pipes’s ought not to be taken seriously, then I’d certainly stop citing him as an expert. I sure would like to know whom you would recommend I can put my trust in as it relates to Islam, the Arab-Israel conflict, terrorism, etc.


Thread at Millennial Star where I am discussion concerning the Danish cartoons.



Daniel Pipes


Middle East Forum

Bio: http://www.danielpipes.org/bios/

Areas of Expertise: Militant Islam, Arab-Israel conflict, Syria, American Muslims

Contact: pipes@meforum.org






LDS Patriot



Dr. Peterson’s response to my e-mail above:


I think highly of him.  His father, Richard Pipes, was a famous Sovietologist at Harvard whose writing I admired.  He himself earned a Ph.D. At Harvard with a dissertation on the Mamluks of medieval Egypt that became a fine book entitled, as I recall, Slaves on Horseback.  He’s a legitimate, well-trained scholar, and very bright.


I confess that I have a bias with regard to Dr. Pipes, since he’s had some nice things to say about me (on the basis, in my view, of insufficient evidence).  But, even factoring that in, I think his is a voice that should not be shunned.


I have at least one colleague here at BYU who despises him, too, but then, that colleague and I disagree very, very much on politics, as well.


I’ve never found Daniel Pipes to be a demagogue.


He is certainly not an Ed Decker or a Jerald/Sandra Tanner.


Keep reading Daniel Pipes.  Another good writer—perhaps the greatest scholar of Islam writing in English—is Bernard Lewis, an Englishman now long retired from Princeton.  All of his books are worth reading, but two short relatively recent ones are particularly and directly relevant to the current situation:  What Went Wrong? and The Crisis of Islam.


Lewis also catches flak from some of my Islamicist colleagues, at least for his recent and more overtly political writing.  But that’s to a large extent because most of my colleagues lean politically left, as do most academics generally.  (I do not.)  It doesn’t hurt to read some of the more liberal Islamicists too (such as John Esposito), to get various perspectives, but I am not very pleased with the campaign to blacken and marginalize Daniel Pipes.  If he’s wrong, that should be demonstrated with evidence and analysis, not by name-calling.


Best wishes to you.




Dan Peterson


Daniel C. Peterson, Ph.D.

Professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic

Editor-in-Chief, Middle Eastern Texts Initiative

3087 Joseph F. Smith Building

Brigham Young University

Provo, Utah 84602

Powered By Qumana

Posted on February 10, 2006, in Mormonism/LDS Church. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. The following are my questions to Mr. Pipes that I asked him on his website:

    Mr. Pipes,

    I’ve read many of your quotes and thoughts on the subject of the Middle East, and while your thoughts are logical, I wonder, do you talk of anything else besides war? Can you talk of how peace can be achieved? What is “victory” in the Middle East to you? The entire destruction of the Arab world? Is peace not victorious? Must our “enemies” be trodden under our feet like the mighty colonial powers of old attempted? I ask sincerely, because I am troubled by how easily some speak of warfare in the Middle East. I wonder, do you look forward to the violence? Do you anticipate excitedly what violence in the Middle East prophetically will bring us? Are you a rapturist? Why advocate war instead of advocate peace? Why not put your efforts in pursuading those who want war to see other ways of existing besides picking up a gun and shooting people down or a bomb and blowing up others? Are you so blind to the fact that peace actually exists between two Arab states and Israel, and that those peace treaties were achieved by those now labeled “weak”, “cut-and-run losers”, etc? How come there is peace between Israel and Egypt? How come there is peace between Israel and Jordan? What were the reasons that those two countries formed peace, and how come you don’t talk about pursuing a similar path with Israel’s other neighbors! Why instead do you discuss war war war?

    Thank you,


  2. ldspatriot,

    Dr. Pipes answered my questions with the following:

    Daniel Pipes replies:

    Lots of questions here. I discuss war because there is a lot of it – in Iraq, in Lebanon, perhaps in Iran, and many other places, including Heathrow airport.

    I suspect it’s not so much my discussion of war that this writer minds but my calling on the civilized world to win the wars it is in.

    As for what victory means, see two recent stabs by me to explain this, with reference to the Arab-Israeli conflict, at “Israel Shuns Victory” and “How Israel Can Win.”

    To which I asked the following questions, further elaborating on an important point regarding Israel’s relations between her and two of her neighbors:

    Dr. Pipes,

    Thank you for answering. I actually did not think you would. My questions were a bit abrassive and aggressive. I’m frankly rather tired that so many Americans talk so easily about wars in the Middle East. I read the links to the articles you’ve posted, “Israel Shuns Victory,” and “How Israel Can Win,” and I’m a bit surprised. Not once in both of those articles did you even talk about how Israel made peace with two of its Arab neighbors, Egypt and Jordan, and what the situation was that arose in both those countries signing peace treaties with Israel. This befuddles me, and makes my first assertion that many Americans don’t really want to see Israel at peace with her neighbors a bit more credible. What made Egypt sign a peace treaty with Israel? Who were the players involved? What concessions did the parties make for a peace treaty? What prices did they have to pay? Same question for Israel’s peace treaty with Jordan in 1994. Why don’t “experts” weigh in on how peace was ACTUALLY achieved between Israel and her Arab nations, even with the Palestinian problem not resolved?

    You mention that victory means a “defeat” of the enemy, wherein one opponent gives up his or her goals. Why did Egypt and Jordan give up their goals of removing Israel off the map? How was America involved? Did Americans goad Israel into fighting Egypt and Jordan, or did they (under those American presidents) try to get both parties talking to each other?

    Most importantly, has either Egypt or Jordan lobbed any rockets into Israel since signing peace treaties with Israel? Has either Egypt or Jordan sent troops in to invade Israel since signing peace treaties with Israel? I want to hear “experts” talk about Egypt and Jordan and why they made peace with Israel. I want to not hear “experts” talk about war war war. Can you do that?

    Thank you,


  3. The conversation continues:

    Daniel Pipes replies:

    I see those peace treaties basically as pieces of paper, not as signals of a deep-seated change of heart vis-à-vis Israel.

    To which I replied:

    Dr. Pipes,

    So is it your ‘expert’ belief that Egypt and Jordan are really at war with Israel still? Is the fact that Egypt has not fought against Israel since 1973, and has worked behind the scenes to solve Israel’s problems with Hamas not a sign of “deep seated change vis-a-vis Israel?” Why do you so easily dismiss ACTUAL peace and instead favor war? True victory is in the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. There is no greater victory that Israel has achieved in its short modern history than this. The Six-Day War achieved no lasting victory because just seven years later, her Arab neighbors snuck attacked her once again. Yet, since the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, those two nations have not lobbed missiles at each other or murdered one another. Why is this not significant in your “expert” eyes?

    I really do wonder why American Middle East “experts” don’t understand that peace actually is possible in the Middle East, if you but look for it. You talk about “winning.” There is no greater win than to be at peace with your neighbors. The greatest victory of the Middle East to this point is the 1979 Camp David accords that produced a peace treaty between an Arab nation and Israel. No greater victory than peace.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: