Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Back-Door Appointment of Pipes a Victory-Of Sorts

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Back-Door Appointment of Pipes a Victory-Of Sorts

Article excerpt

At an Aug. 14 news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, interfaith and civil rights groups voiced their opposition to President George W. Bush's expected summer recess appointment of the controversial Daniel Pipes to the U.S. Institute for Peace (USIP) board of directors. In May the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, the body responsible for confirming all such nominations, listened to testimony and overwhelming evidence that Pipes has anti-Muslim, anti-African-American, and anti-Japanese prejudices. Committee members decided Pipes was not the man for the job and postponed the vote indefinitely. [Just as Press Club speakers predicted, eight days after the press conference--on a Friday, Aug. 22, when there was little news coverage the president decided to "sidestep" Congress and appoint Pipes during the summer legislative recess.]

Churches for Middle East Peace executive director Corinne Whitlach told the packed room that for the sake of "peace and reconciliation in the Middle East" and "good relations between Jews, Christians and Muslims across the globe," Daniel Pipes must not be appointed. "Pipes has denigrated Muslims and the tenets of peacemaking," Witlach declared. "This recess appointment flies in the face of the American people."

Next to take the podium to express his group's outrage was Rev. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, a national, clergy-led, grassroots, non-partisan organization of 150,000 members who represent 65 different religious traditions. "Given Dr. Pipes' record of unrelenting derogatory and inflammatory statements directed at Islam, I would have problems with this appointment under any circumstances," Rev. Gaddy said. "However, for the appointment to be made in the absence of due process on the part of Congress, I have even greater concerns...If President Bush uses a recess appointment to name Dr. Pipes to the U.S. Institute of Peace, he will bypass the democratic process."

Describing Pipes as one of America's most notorious anti-Muslim bigots, Sarah Eltantawi, communications director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, called on the president to "listen to our concerns." She pointed out, "While Pipes may not be a household name for the average American, he is notorious in the American-Muslim and Arab-American community."

According to Charles Lenchner, president of Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel, "this is Pipes' finest moment"--because the threat of his appointment has brought together all these groups united in brotherhood to fight his intolerance and bigotry. Lenchner said he is proud of the American Jewish tradition of tolerance, interfaith dialogue, and civil rights work. "Pipes is an antithesis of these values," Lenchner said.

Helen Samhan, executive director of the Arab American Foundation, a division of the Arab American Institute, noted that Pipes has denigrated, ridiculed and maligned Muslims before and after 9/11. He has offended Japanese Americans and made racist statements about African-American Muslims. "After years of bigotry," Samhan said, "Pipes has now been paid off with a presidential appointment."

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) director Nihad Awad called the appointment an "affront to Muslims and a slap in the face to democracy." Awad also warned that it sends the wrong message: that "this war is against Muslims, not against terrorism."

Hussein Ibish, communications director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said Pipes has used his voice to denigrate, ridicule and malign Arab Americans, American Muslims, Arabs and Islam itself. …

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