Middle East Forum
|Motto||The Philadelphia-based MEF promotes American interests and works to protect Western civilization from the threat of Islamism.|
|Type||Foreign Policy Think Tank|
The Middle East Forum (MEF) is an American conservative think tank founded in 1990 by Daniel Pipes, who serves as its president. MEF became an independent non-profit organization in 1994. It publishes a journal, the Middle East Quarterly.
According to the organization's website, they promote "American interests and works to protect Western civilization from the threat of Islamism", advocate strong ties with Israel and other democracies as they emerge, work for human rights throughout the region; seek a stable supply and a low price of oil; and promote the peaceful settlement of regional and international disputes.
The Middle East Forum, a 501(c)3, has established the Legal Project to protect researchers and analysts who work on the topics of Islam and related topics from lawsuits designed to silence their exercise of free speech and to discuss key issues of public concern. The Legal Project aided Geert Wilders' legal defense when he faced a criminal indictment for his views in 2009.
Publications and projects
Middle East Quarterly
The Middle East Quarterly (MEQ) is a quarterly journal devoted to Middle Eastern affairs. It was founded in 1994 by Daniel Pipes and the current editor is Efraim Karsh, Research Professor and former Director of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at King's College London.
In 2002, the Middle East Forum initiated the Campus Watch program and identified what it finds to be the five major problems in the teaching of Middle Eastern studies at American universities: "analytical failures, the mixing of politics with scholarship, intolerance of alternative views, apologetics, and the abuse of power over students." Winfield Myers is the current director of Campus Watch (2007).
Initially, Campus Watch published a list of problematic instructors, which led some professors to accuse Campus Watch of "McCarthyesque" intimidation; in protest, more than 100 other academics asked to be listed too. Subsequently, Campus Watch removed the list from its website, but replaced it with a list titled Professors to Avoid.
On April 21, 2006, the Middle East Forum launched Islamist Watch, a project that it states "combat[s] the ideas and institutions of nonviolent, radical Islam in the United States and other Western countries. It exposes the far-reaching goals of Islamists, works to reduce their power, and seeks to strengthen moderate Muslims."
According to the organization's website, Islamist Watch seeks to educate the government, media, religious institutions, the academy, and the business world about lawful Islamism. It focuses on the political, educational, cultural, and legal activities of Islamists in the United States and, to a lesser degree, in other historically non-Muslim countries, especially Western Europe, Canada, and Australia. Islamist Watch does not focus on counter terrorism and only indirectly concerns Islamism in Muslim-majority countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, and its three main "activities" include "research, advocacy, and activism."
In 2012, Marc Fink became the director of Islamist Watch.
The Legal Project
The Middle East Forum established the Legal Project in June 2007 to protect researchers, analysts, and activists who work on radical Islam and related topics from predatory lawsuits designed to silence their exercise of free speech.
According to the Legal Project's website, it acts in four ways to counteract Islamist threats to free speech, "Fundraising for an Escrow account to supplement the court costs and litigation fees for victims of Islamist lawfare (all funds raised go directly to lawfare victims); Arranging for pro bono and reduced rate counsel for victims of Islamist lawfare; Maintaining an international network of attorneys dedicated to working pro bono in the defense of free speech; and, Raising awareness about the issue. Efforts include briefings by legal experts on how to avoid libelous statements, and consultations with libel lawyers before publishing on certain topics."
Middle East Intelligence Bulletin
The Middle East Intelligence Bulletin was jointly published by the United States Committee for a Free Lebanon and the Middle East Forum. It was, from 1999-2004, a free monthly publication, that provided analysis of political and strategic developments in Lebanon, Syria & the Middle East.
The staff included: Gary C. Gambill as editor, Daniel Pipes and Ziad K. Abdelnour as publishers. The Editorial Board includes Thomas Patrick Carroll, Michael Rubin and Youssef Haddad. Mahan Abedin serves as London correspondent.
Israel Victory Project
The Israel Victory Project, launched in 2017, is an initiative aimed at securing an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by putting pressure on Palestinians to end anti-Israel terrorism and acknowledge Israel's legitimacy as a Jewish state, rather than through bilateral negotiations. Daniel Pipes has stated that "Peace is not made with enemies; peace is made with former enemies."
Support for Tommy Robinson
In 2018, the MEF boasted that it had been "heavily involved" in the release from prison of British anti-Islam activist and far-right political operative Tommy Robinson, who is best known as a co-founder, former spokesman and former leader of the English Defence League (EDL) organisation, and for his recent service as a political adviser to the leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), Gerard Batten. They revealed that "the full resources of the Middle East Forum were activated to free Mr. Robinson", which included: conferring with Robinson's legal team and providing necessary funds; funding, organizing and staffing the "Free Tommy" London rallies on June 9 and July 14, which was, they claim, reported by The Times, The Guardian, and the Independent; funding travel of the US congressman, Rep. Paul Gosar, Republican from Arizona, to London to address the rallies; and lobbied Sam Brownback, the State Department's ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, to raise the issue with the UK's ambassador, which he did.
- Gregg Roman, News from the Middle East Forum (1 August 2018). "Tommy Robinson Free – MEF Heavily Involved". Middle East Forum. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
- "Middle East Forum" (PDF). Foundation Center. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
- MacFarquhar, Neil (March 14, 2007). "Scrutiny Increases for a Group Advocating for Muslims in U.S." – via NYTimes.com.
- "Middle East Forum" listed in "Search Results" and "Resource Library" on the website of the Foreign Policy Association; cf. organization website for Meforum.org, Middle East Forum, one of DanielPipes.org", "Daniel Pipes's websites" (incl. its "Mission" statement), all accessed February 24, 2007.
- Daniel Pipes, "The MEF Mission", danielpipes.org (personal organization website of Daniel Pipes), n.d., accessed February 17, 2007.
- "Donate to The Legal Project". www.meforum.org.
- Column, Guest. "Will Obama Stand With Geert Wilders?". canadafreepress.com.
- Biography of Efraim Karsh; Middle East Forum
- Qtd. from "Mission Statement," in "About Campus Watch", Campus Watch (campus-watch.org), n.d., accessed February 17, 2007.
- "Who's Who at Campus Watch", Middle East Forum (meforum.org), n.d., accessed February 17, 2007.
- Tanya Schevitz, "Professors Want Own Names Put on Mideast Blacklist", San Francisco Chronicle September 28, 2002, accessed February 17, 2007.
- Tanya Schevitz, "'Dossiers' Dropped from Web Blacklist", San Francisco Chronicle October 3, 2002, accessed February 17, 2007.
- Hussam Ayloush, "Column a Slur on Muslim Community", Orange County Register December 1, 2002, accessed February 17, 2007.
- "Islamist Watch". Islamist Watch.
- "Islamist Watch" (information page), Middle East Forum, n.d., accessed February 17, 2007.
- "About the Legal Project :: The Legal Project". www.legal-project.org.
- Gambill, Gary C. "Middle East Intelligence Bulletin (MEIB)". United States Committee for a Free Lebanon and the Middle East Forum. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
- Seaman, Daniel. "Missing from the election buzz: How to end the conflict". JNS.org. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
- ""Israel Victory Project" launches new round on Israeli campuses". Israel National News. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
- "Daniel Pipes and the Israel Victory Project - Arab-Israeli Conflict - Jerusalem Post". www.jpost.com. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
- Center for American Progress, The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America, 2011
- *"UK far-right figure Tommy Robinson jailed for contempt". Business Insider. 29 May 2018. Archived from the original on 15 June 2018. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
- "Facebook erases far-right activist's page, Instagram profile". Chicago Tribune. 26 February 2019. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
- "Morrissey defends Tommy Robinson and new far-right party". The Week. 7 June 2018. Archived from the original on 15 June 2018. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
- Hamilton, Fiona (30 May 2018). "Far-right provocateur Tommy Robinson jailed over court rant". The Times. Archived from the original on 15 June 2018. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
- Morrin, Siobhan (29 May 2018). "Why Tommy Robinson Was Jailed, and Why U.S. Rightwingers Care". Time. Archived from the original on 15 June 2018. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
- Palmer, Ewan (29 May 2018). "Why was Tommy Eobinson arrested? Far-right activist jailed for 13 months for 'prejudicing rape trial'". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 15 June 2018. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
- "The EDL – Britain's Far Right Social Movement" (PDF). Radicalism and New Media Research Group, University of Northampton, 22 September 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 January 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
- Bailey, Luke (14 July 2018). "This hardline US conservative think tank says it's funding Tommy Robinson rallies in the UK". iNews.
- Rubin, Barry, and Judith Colp. Hating America: A History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-19-516773-2.