Speaker: Israel has right to statehood

Michelle Gabriel

A Palestinian change of heart is key to resolving the Middle East conflict, an author and columnist said in a speech that attracted both Muslim and Jewish students to Annenberg Hall on Monday night.

About 80 students and Evanston residents gathered to hear Daniel Pipes, who completed his undergraduate, graduate and doctoral work at Harvard University, speak on the conflict in Israel and how U.S. foreign policy affects the volatile situation.

Pipes said the U.S. government has falsely assumed that Palestinians accept Israel’s current geographical and ideological boundaries since Israel’s victory in 1967’s Six Day War. Before the Middle East situation can improve, Palestinians must accept Israel’s right to exist, he said.

“The key is to achieve a Palestinian change of heart,” he said.

Pipes continued his criticism of U.S. foreign policy by switching gears to the post-Sept. 11 “War on Terror.” He said the war is “going astray,” because its target really is not terror but what he called “militant Islam.”

Pipes said militant Islam is “in the cast of fascism, communism, Nazism, Leninism.”

It attempts to remake society by completely controlling people’s lives, he said.

Pipes, once a professor at Harvard, also said control pervades some college campuses and prevents students from discussing their views on current foreign policy issues. To combat intolerance, misunderstanding and fears of expressing volatile viewpoints on campuses, Pipes helped create campuswatch.org, a Web site where students can express their views about the Middle East conflict.

One problem Pipes said he found on college campuses is some instructors impose their views on students. He said his Web site gives students the opportunity to express opinions without worrying about professors punishing them with bad grades.

“I have no coercive powers,” he said. “Just the freedom of speech.”

Many agreed that Pipes’ pro-Israeli views were welcome additions to Northwestern’s repertoire of Middle Eastern perspectives.

“Pipes’ Web site has clearly opened a lively discussion on … progress toward peace in the Middle East,” said Eric Samuels, the fellow at Doppelt Jewish Campus Service Corps. “At NU I hope the discussion can continue.”