Eli’s Story on Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum

Following up on LobeLog’s revelation in September that Daniel Pipes’s Middle East Forum (MEF) helped support the defendant in a defamation lawsuit filed by the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), our former colleague Eli Clifton has published new information about the funders of MEF’s Legal Project – among them, the Bradley Foundation, which was named one of the top funders in the Center for American Progress “Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” and the San Francisco-based Koret Foundation.

Eli shows that the American Enterprise Institute’s Michael Rubin coached the defendant in the case, Seid Hassan Daioleslam, on how to mount an effective attack on NIAC and president Trita Parsi – at one point, advising Daioleslam that anything he wrote for MEF’s “Middle East Quarterly” (of which Rubin was then editor) would have to be “run …past one of our lawyers to make sure that it is written in a way that adheres to libel laws in the United States but, as you know, libel laws in the United States usually allow you to say what you need to say.”

Pipes has also used his MEF to say what he needed to say. Writes Eli:

In recent years, Pipes has written a series of pieces arguing that President Obama “was born and raised a Muslim and retained a Muslim identity until his late 20s.”

“[I]f Obama once was a Muslim, he is now what Islamic law calls a murtadd (apostate), an ex-Muslim converted to another religion who must be executed. Were he elected president of the United States, this status, clearly, would have large potential implications for his relationship with the Muslim world,” wrote Pipes in a January 2008 FrontPageMag column.

Eli’s piece should be read in its entirety but I made a couple of interesting notes. Ironically, Parsi himself was a Bradley Fellow – that is, an indirect beneficiary of the Foundation’s largess. He received a stipend from Bradley as a result of his research work for former neo-con favourite Francis Fukuyama at Johns Hopkins School for International Studies (SAIS). Thus, Bradley helped fund Parsi’s own PhD work, which resulted in his very well-reviewed book on U.S.-Israeli-Iranian relations, “Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States”.

Also, Eli notes that the MEF describes its domestic mission as “combat(ing) lawful Islamism; protects the freed of public speech of anti-Islamist authors, activists, and publishers; and works to improve Middle East studies in North America” — by which I take to mean the group supports Campus Watch to report professors who may at times be critical of Israel for this or that reason. What is interesting about the NIAC lawsuit, however, is that NIAC, insofar as I am aware, is a completely secular organization that has nothing whatever to do with Islamism or the promotion or denigration of any religion.

Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.