A Pakistani Delegation to Israel Might be a Sign That Islamabad Is Considering a New Approach

Recently, a fifteen-member Pakistani delegation, organized by two Pakistani civic groups, returned from a visit to the Jewish state. Among the participants were Ahmed Qureshi, one of the country’s leading journalists, and Fishel BenKhald, one of its few Jews. Hamza Azhar Salam explains the mission’s significance:

The contention that Israel and/or Jews are obsessively engaged in a long-term plot to destabilize or defang Pakistan (in cahoots with Islamabad’s enemies), and that Pakistan has a foundational, if not sanctified, duty to dismantle Israel, is practically an iron rule of Pakistani grassroots and political discourse.

Every Pakistani passport includes a warning in bold letters that it is valid for all countries except Israel. Nonetheless, Qureshi and BenKhald entered Israel on their Pakistani passports, making it the first-ever trip of its kind: a Pakistani journalist on a Pakistani passport, and an individual whose Pakistani passport states that he is a Jew, both travelled to Israel and, no less significantly, were able to re-enter Pakistan without hindrance.

Without at least an overt nudge from powerful quarters, no Pakistani journalist could make this public trip to Israel and return safely, reflecting how attitudes pertaining to Israel have evolved in the world’s only Muslim nuclear power. . . . With the UAE acting as a leader in the diplomacy of the Muslim world, other countries, including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Oman, and Qatar are well on their way to recognizing the advantages of normalization and of joining the Abraham Accords.

Yet, as Salam explains, the visit also sparked a great deal of public outcry in Pakistan—a testament to how deeply anti-Semitic currents run in the country.

Read more at Haaretz

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel diplomacy, Pakistan, Pakistani Jewry

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy