19 October, 2005
By Farzana Shah
(A step towards betterment of Muslims and Jews)
The first-ever contact at ministerial level at Istanbul, between the two countries born in the name of different religions more than half a century ago -Pakistan and Israel - has provided a new topic not only for discussion but also for intense speculation both for and against.
Much has been said and written about this contact and some analysts believe that the ties are not likely to play any fruitful role towards the solution of Palestinian problem or be beneficial to either Israel or Pakistan in future.
There may be dozens of such assumptions but the need to review the recent development more objectively can not be denied, as it provides a long awaited opportunity to both Pakistan and Israel, specially in the changing scenario of the political world, to gain from. It could also hasten the process of the solution of the Palestinian issue, if exploited properly.
Although Pakistan has been quite vocal towards Palestinian issue but has never had a covert or overt confrontation with Israel on this count. We do sympathize with the Palestinians and fully support their cause at all forums of the world. However, neither have we put any embargo on any foreign multi-national company, especially the big American firms that either operate with the Israeli capital or have their manufacturing concerns in Israel as some of whom have been boycotted by certain Arab countries, nor did we take sides in the Arabs' inter-state disputes. The irony is that some of the Arab countries have recognized Israel and have full diplomatic relations with it.
Among nearly five dozen Muslim countries, Pakistan and Turkey stand out as both militarily strong and enlightened in their outlook. Pakistan acquired a special status in the Muslim world when it became a nuclear power and it is also a fact that it was only after Pakistan went nuclear that Israel began its quest for ties with Pakistan. Soon after the tests an Israeli news channel while breaking the news also broke the information about its contacts with Pakistan in the 80s.
A nuclear Pakistan posed no threat to Israel as it has no direct conflict with Israel. In fact Pakistan does not pose any threat to any country as its acclaimed policy as a nuclear power remains a policy of minimum deterrent against anyone aggressing against it.
Like any other country, Israel too needs to expand its trade, without which she cannot survive. With Pakistani she is cognizant of the trade potential through the overseas Jews who buy Pakistan's commodities in substantial volume, especially textile goods. In exchange, Israel can sell some of its military hardware, military technology or technical expertise. In the latter field, it enjoys good reputation in areas of R&D (research and development), agriculture, fishing, and banking and finance.
Behind the scene mutual contacts of the two countries served the interest of both. Israel assuring Pakistan that it had no intentions of attacking the latter's atomic facilities, and Pakistan assuring Israel of not attacking Israel at any stage.
Pakistan's interest was served in yet another way by its covert contacts with Israel. The one most important factor related to India's overt relations with Israel, giving rise to rumours that Israel might provide strategic assistance to India not only for crushing the militants' intransigency, but also for an attack on Pakistan's nuclear facilities.
Now that the second track diplomacy is becoming more and more visible, all segments of the country, specially the politicians, should not oppose the recent developments without any logic. After all we have full diplomatic ties with India and have never been shy of talking to our one time sworn adversary with whom we have had three full scale wars and many border skirmishes, then what is the sense in shying away from Israel which is thousands of miles away and with whom we have no direct conflict.
Secondly, will it be prudent for us in any way to keep antagonizing a potent American Jewish lobby whom our arch-rival has been using to create problems for us at almost the political forums in the world and who has been instrumental in shaping several American policies and decisions directly affecting Pakistan.
The powerful Jewish lobbies wield enormous clout in the administrations, academia and media not only in the United States but also in rest of the world. The President's recent address to the Jewish Community in the USA has lessened the venom spitted against Pakistan by the staunch media under Jewish influence, which is noticeably evident with its positive impact on the recent developments as judged from of the media reports.
Not-with-standing the Pak-Israeli relation, solution of Palestinian problem remain a very important issue in the world politics. One might ask how would the ties between Pakistan and Israel help in resolving this issue. Well, there is need to look into the complex and vulnerable Jewish society to understand the need for bolstering relation between the two countries for the ultimate solution to the Palestinian problem.
Not many over here know that the Jews are divided over the identity of Israel; the majority comprising the religious orthodoxy does not accept Israel's legitimacy. They recalled the sacred "Oath" of not to create a state while in exile.
"We have been foresworn by the Almighty", say the orthodox Jews, "not to use human force to bring about the establishment of a state, not to rebel against the nations but to remain loyal citizens, not to leave exile ahead of time. Even if the land (in Palestine) would be given to us, we are not allowed to accept it. To violate the 'Oaths' would result in your flesh being made prey as the deer and the antelope in the forest." (Talmud). Why do you violate, they ask the atheist Zionists, God's pledge, stressing to them that the creation of Israel wouldn't succeed?
The Israelis are perilously divided and they also suffer from centuries' old discords and enmities. They were not supposed to create a political entity in Palestine, much less to create inhuman atrocities to the Palestinians. Now that the Jews have come to occupy the Holy Land in direct violation of their Torah teachings, they have landed into a trouble spot such that they find no way out from it, except being rescued by their Arab neighbors.
The real travails of Israelis' will only begin once the Arabs make peace with them. And for making peace with Arabs they need a strong Muslim country which can dilute Muslims' opposition towards it and Pakistan being the only nuclear Muslim country would not only help in diluting Muslims' opposition towards Israel but it can also use Pakistan as a conduit to reach Iran and Saudi Arab.
Now with the normalization of its relation with Iran and Saudi Arab after Pakistan there is every possibility of resolution of Palestinian issue. The Jews had lived for the better part of their long exile under the benevolent regimes of both Arabs and Ottoman Turks. They still recall their golden periods when they lived and thrived under the Moors in Spain and for four hundred years under the Ottoman Turkish rule.
Jews were banished from Palestine by the Christian regimes. But the Muslim Caliph 'Umar saw it fit to end their banishment as being the "people of the Book". He gave them quarters to live in Jerusalem with full freedom of their religion and culture. The Jews carried on living in Jerusalem as well as those in the Diasporas came on pilgrimage during the last fourteen hundred years. The trouble started when the Zionist atheists conspired to create the state of Israel and started on an illegal expansion to the great detriment of the Palestinian Muslims and Christians.
Now what they most need and fully content with is a "safe haven", preferably in the biblical lands of Judea and Samaria in the West Bank of Palestine - the cradle of Judaism.
This safe haven could only be provided to them by the Arabs and for that Israel needs friendly ties with them and Pakistan can help them in this matter.
Now is the time for the think tank of the country, politicians especially the opposition to take the stock of the future ties of Pakistan with Israel and evaluate the positive aspect of it for the benefit of not only the two countries but also for the benefit of the Palestinians. The ardent excuse of some of the parties mainly the religious ones of betraying the Palestinians or for that matter Muslim Ummah is baseless and weak.
Happily, the general political atmosphere in the country, including that of almost all political parties and that of their barometer - the masses, seems to have given consent to the present government's decision as we have not seen much opposition or agitation in this regard. Thus it is a golden chance to bolster ties with Israel for the betterment of the country Muslims and Jews.
It is time, that Pakistan kept its interest supreme and opted for a rapprochement policy with Israel.