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.

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Read more at Haaretz

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

 

The End of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and the Rise of the Arab-Israeli Coalition

Nov. 30 2022

After analyzing the struggle between the Jewish state and its Arab neighbors since 1949, Dan Schueftan explains the current geopolitical alignment and what it means for Jerusalem:

Using an outdated vocabulary of Middle Eastern affairs, recent relations between Israel and most Arab states are often discussed in terms of peace and normalization. What is happening recently is far more significant than the willingness to live together and overshadow old grievances and animosities. It is about strategic interdependence with a senior Israeli partner. The historic all-Arab coalition against Israel has been replaced by a de-facto Arab-Israeli coalition against the radical forces that threaten them both. Iran is the immediate and outstanding among those radicals, but Erdogan’s Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean, Syria—and, in a different way, its allies in the Muslim Brotherhood—are not very far behind.

For Israel, the result of these new alignments is a transformational change in its regional standing, as well as a major upgrade of its position on the global stage. In the Middle East, Israel can, for the first time, act as a full-fledged regional power. . . . On the international scene, global powers and other states no longer have to weigh the advantages of cooperation with Israel against its prohibitive costs in “the Arab World. . . . By far the most significant effect of this transformation is on the American strategic calculus of its relations with Israel.

In some important ways, then, the “New Middle East” has arrived. Not, of course, in the surreal Shimon Peres vision of regional democracy, peace, and prosperity, but in terms of a balance of power and hard strategic realities that can guardrail a somewhat less unstable and dangerous region, where the radicals are isolated and the others cooperate to keep them at bay.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Abraham Accords, Israel-Arab relations, Middle East, Shimon Peres, U.S.-Israel relationship