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

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy