A controversial Middle East scholar was greeted at Cal Poly on Monday night by a candlelight vigil as students and others opposed to his critical views of radical Islam stood in silent opposition.

Daniel Pipes’ presentation, “Israel, America, and Middle East Threats,” included discussion of Israel’s longstanding conflict with the Palestinians and the United States’ need to protect itself from Muslim extremists.

He was invited to the university by Cal Poly Hillel – an on-campus Jewish organization.

Pipes said that America is at war with radical Islam, which he likens to totalitarianism.

“Radical Islam is a new, utopian totalitarian version of Islam,” Pipes said. “It is an aggressive form of Islam … because of it, we as Americans face an external threat.”

The solution is to defeat the enemy and ultimately denounce radical Islam as having a future, he said.

Pipes’ views are considered controversial by some people because he is a strong and vocal critic of Muslim extremism.

He told the audience of about 150 on Monday that Palestinians should acknowledge that they have lost their battle against Israel.

“The Palestinian dream is that there be no more Israel, and the Israeli dream is to be accepted as a state,” Pipes said.

“The way forward is not negotiations,” he added.
“We must convince Palestinians to acknowledge it is over.”

Some students at Monday’s talk raised concerns that Pipes’ often pro-war stance was heard without a counterargument.

“From what we know of his ideology, he is not promoting peace and tolerance, but instead fueling flames and spreading hatred,” Poly student Naiyerah Kolkailah said.

She is a member of the Muslim Student Association and the Students for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, which along with the Progressive Student Alliance organized the candlelight vigil.

“He is not trying to connect different communities and increase our understanding of one another – and that is destructive to our efforts,” Kolkailah said.


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