My initial decision was to resist the vain temptation to have the last word. This temptation is vain, since the last word belongs to no one except God. Unfortunately, the response of Mansour Omar included a number of factual errors, and I cannot help but act according to responsibility and correct some of them. Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, said, "Allah loves the fact that whenever we do something we do it with diligence and care."
On May 6, when I decided to make my article public, I felt the need to let one of my friends know what I had in mind. Here is what I wrote to him:
"It was not an easy decision for me to publish this article. I was intensely torn between two competing commitments, one to my friends and the other to my country. However, I have decided that, in this case, no serious harm will come from letting some facts be known. I hope that Mansour will find something good in the discussion, and I hope that I gave him the opportunity to take care of the things I mentioned in the article. I made sure not to wrong him, but if I inadvertently did, I will definitely own up to my mistakes."
My purpose, then, was not to cause Mansour and his family, his most honorable wife and good children, any discomfort, let alone pain. I did not expect Mansour to like what I had to say, but I believed that, at the end, he would be able to overcome my honest critique and move on. Mansour has committed himself to certain positions, both in his writing and political practices, and I happen to disagree with these positions. There is one major disagreement between us. I do not believe that the interests of the Libyan people coincide with the interest of the Israeli lobby in this country. In other words, I do not believe that a case can be made that the sanctions are good for our people. Mansour, on the other hand, believes the opposite, or at least talks and acts as if he does. If he believes that I have given a false account of his position, then now he has the opportunity to make his position unequivocally clear on this and other questions relating to the higher national interest. However, based on the facts at hand, I believe that Mansour's position is what I said it is. I also believe that it is a misguided position, and I had to let him know that in the strongest way possible.
Mansour need not reconsider his positions, and can very well continue to do things his way. He must, however, recognize that others have not only the right, but also the obligation, to make their disagreement with him known. In the article, I have attended to nothing but material facts. I have absolutely nothing personal against Mansour, and I wish him and his good family nothing but good health and fortune. We both, however, have our charge to keep, and I intend to keep mine. The Libyan people should in no way be disturbed over our disagreement. This is democracy in action, and we are both big boys. One more thing, I know that it is unfair to Mansour not to know his protagonist, but I hope he understands that he is not the reason for my anonymity, and I hope that the time will come when I will be able to give him a courtesy call and tell him who I am.
Mansour wrote: "What you must understand I have no relationship to repudiate with either Daniel Pipes or the Quarterly (sic)."
This is incorrect. Mansour is a member of the Board of Editors of the infamous Zionist quarterly. (I provided the website of MEQ as endnote 6; here it is again: http://www.meforum.org/meq/board.html) Every journal has a certain mission, and to be a member of the editorial board means that you agree with that mission, and you are willing to provide your services in its support by becoming a member of the board. People do not invite just anyone to serve on their editorial boards. It was brought to my attention that when a chatter in one of the Libyan chat rooms posted the website of Pipes' quarterly, with Mansour's name on the Board of Editors (member number 10), Mansour's reply was that he didn't know that his name was on it. Here are two of his responses that were made available to me:
Mansour, in one of his replies to the chatter, wrote: "Thank you for telling me. I was not aware I was on it." http://libyafc.mtn.org/muntada_disc1/1000e182.htm
Here is a second reply by Mansour to the same message of the same chatter: "Do what you want to do. You heard my side of the story, and I know you need to earn your paycheck from your master. That my name is there is not due to any request I made. Nor was I aware that it was there in the first place. Unlike you I don't even read the journal. Now that you earned your keep go back into the hole you came out of until the next time you are called upon to do the filthy work." (Change 182 above to 184 i .)
We are no longer dealing with reality. People do not just pick names out of a hat and put them as members of their editorial boards. They must get their permission first. Indeed, to be a member of an editorial board of a quarterly is a recognition and a source of power, which academics seek. It is by invitation only, and not upon their request, that people become members of an editorial board of a certain periodical. Mansour and Pipes had to be very close friends for Pipes to put Mansour's name on the Editorial Board without first getting his permission. If they were not, then Mansour can sue Pipes for using his name without his permission. Let us for a moment loose our heads and believe that Mansour did not know that his name was on the board. Here is, then, what Mansour can do. He can write Pipes a letter admonishing him for using his name without his permission, and asking him to withdraw his name from the board. He can also ask Pipes to write a letter apologizing to him for taking the liberty of using Mansour's name without his permission, and post both letters on the Internet.
Mansour wrote: "Your problem seems to be not with Mansour Omar El-Kikhia [himself], but with the El-Kikhia family as a whole, something that puts you in the same camp as Mr. Qathafi."
This is incorrect as well as manipulative. It is incorrect on two counts. The first is with respect to the relationship between Qaddafi and Mansour's family. Let us not forget that for twelve years, Mansour Rasheed El-Kikhia was one of the closest and, I may add, most capable and honest, aids to Qaddafi. Mansour Rasheed held two of the highest governmental positions, which are given only to leaders within the political establishment, that of a Foreign Minister and The Libyan Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Mansour Muhammad El-kikhia, one of the most respected men in Libya, a former dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts, and a great leader of the Libyan Scouts Movement, alharaka alkhashifya, a wonderful and independent man, an exemplary Libyan citizen who always fulfilled his civic duties, and who, in his quiet and delightful ways, dedicated his life to the service of his community, was awarded Wisam al-Fatih.
The second is that regardless of how others feel about the family, I have nothing but great respect and affection for every El-khikia I know, and I feel that I know every one of them, except of course the new offspring, who I hope will continue the patriotic tradition of their elders. Indeed, when I pleaded with you Mansour to reconsider your association with Pipes, I made sure to remind you that an association of this nature is inconsistent with the great patriotic tradition of your extended family. Besides, it is both unwise and irresponsible to draw our families into discussions that have nothing to do with them. First, we are both big boys, and second to use our families in this way may turn our disagreements into generational conflicts, which will not be good for the children. The package of our uncertainties in exile is more than enough for our children to carry, and, thus, they may need each other more than they need us.
There is one more factual error, which while in itself is not serious, the fact that the error was committed, in spite of the evidence presented to the contrary, is not without consequence. Mansour wrote: "I do not belong to it [Journal for Libyan Studies] but a number of good Libyan scholars belong to the Editorial Board … Are they all traitors because they have with them a Jew who writes on Libya." This is both incorrect and manipulative. It is manipulative because it ignores the fact that I quoted Jewish writers with great admiration, and also recognized the obvious fact that Libyan Jews are Libyans. This makes it clear that the fact that Takeyh and Pipes are Jews has absolutely nothing to do with my position regarding their political commitments. Takeyh works for an institute which has a clear and militant anti-Arab and ant-Muslim mission, and Pipes is a Fascist. Their toxic political commitments are in clear contradiction with the basic rights and interests of our people. Mansour's statement is incorrect because there are no Libyan scholars on the Editorial Board of the JLS. Here is what I wrote in endnote 15: "What is worse, while the Chief Editor, Youssef El-Megreisi, is a Libyan he did not think it is important to invite at least one Libyan scholar to be a member of the board. Nichola Ziadah is the only Arab name." Here are the names of the members of the board, see if you recognize any Libyan on the list: Lisa Anderson, Anna Baldinetti, Salvatore Bono, Edmond Bosworth, Federico Cresti, Ronald Bruse St John, Ray Takeyh, Knut Vikor, Nicola Ziadah. (See http://www.libyancentre.org/new_page_2.htm)
There is, of course, the manipulative and tyrannical nonsense that if you disagree with any of my positions then you must be an agent of Gaddafi. I am not even sure that all of Mansour's positions are in conflict with Gaddafi, but this a different story. This nonsense will not solve the problem. Mansour, do not try to finesse your way through tight places. You are an Arab and you are a Muslim, and I have no doubt about that, and, therefore, only a clear commitment to the basic rights of your people, Arabs and Muslims, will deliver you. I wish you could denounce Pipes' hateful warfare against our people, but if this is not possible, I will understand.
I believe that knowing what I know, I was quite generous and civil. Then there is the book. I cannot expect you not to be upset about my honest review of your book. Here is how to get even with me. Make your next book a good one, and I will be delighted to give it a good review. I hope my critique will help make your next book a better one.
Now, I would not want you to do anything that may be harmful to the interests of your good family, your gracious wife and lovely children. I just want you to be careful, Pipes and his gang are up to no good.
i If both messages are no longer there, I provided the good editor of this site with copies of their printouts, and I leave it up to his editorial discretion to decide whether it is appropriate to include them as appendices.