With Pakistan and Israel ‘talking’, finally after half a century, one question comes to mind. How was Israel created, who envisioned it and why didn’t Pakistan recognize it sooner? The press often quotes that Pakistan and Israel are more similar than any other two countries. Both were envisioned and created to protect religious freedom. Both were carved out of already existing countries. Both involved bloodshed and mayhem during creation.
‘Zionism-a secular Jewish nationalism- was the creation of atheist Jews who felt that European anti-antisemitism had made individual assimilation impossible. Theodor Herzl (1860-1904) the founding father of the new creed was open minded as to where the new state should be sited. He was prepared to consider Argentina, Mauritius, Uganda or even anywhere else. His more extreme followers, however, were insistent that a Jewish state could only exist in the Zion of the Old Testament: hence Zionism. According to biblical mythology this meant an area known as Palestine, and which had been populated by Arabs for over a thousand years.’ In 1948 with the accepting of a document called the Balfour Declaration by the United Nations, Israel was carved out of Palestine, dislocating and uprooting millions of Arabs who had lived there for centuries to create an idealistic state. It was championed as a ‘land without people for a people without land’.
A Jewish thinker Asher Ginzburg (1856-1927) wrote in his ‘Truth from Palestine’, ‘So that the state of the Jews will finally be a state like that of the Germans, or French, only inhabited by Jews…Such a state will be moral poison to our people and will grind its spirit in the dust…This small state…will survive only by diplomatic intrigues and constant servility to the powers that happen to be dominant. This is exactly what is happening today.
Pakistan was a new nation in 1948 and had to contend with politics of its own. However, Pakistan made a stand and did not recognize the creation of Israel. Other than that it did nothing for the uprooted homeless Arabs, that did not affect it much, nor did the media cover the forced mass exodus. This was to change, in 1956 when the multilateral English, French and Israeli force attacked Egypt. It awakened slumbering Islamic nations. The world was shocked at the atrocities committed, and even more astounding was how the west, beacons of human rights turned a blind eye. The West was riddled with guilt for its ethnic cleansing of WWII and so it ‘allowed’ Israel to do exactly the same to a ‘weaker, poorer’ people.
Now, Pakistan ‘talking’ with Israel opens all sorts of questions. Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told Israel Radio: “We are talking about a tremendous significance, not just in regards to our relations with Pakistan, but the entire Muslim world.” However, what does Pakistan have to gain by ‘talking’ to Israel?
In my opinion the advantage is twofold. Firstly, to promote Ex-President Pervez Musharraf’s policy of ‘enlightened moderation’, what better credentials, other than diplomatic ties with Israel, can a Muslim nation have in the eyes of the West? Secondly, Pakistan currently depends on the US for its weapons, and India (with full diplomatic relations with Israel since 1992) often lobbies the US and Israel to reject requests for newer weapons. By recognizing Israel, Pakistan will have two out of the axis of three (US, Israel and India) on its side.
However, ‘in an interview with the LA Times published on 18 August, Pakistan’s education minister called Jews “the worst terrorists in the world” while summing up the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Pakistani passport holders still cannot travel to Israel. And there is no shortage in Pakistan of those who believe that the 11 September attacks on the US were a Jewish conspiracy, as were the London bombings, to discredit Muslims. Pakistan’s top religious leader Qazi Hussain Ahmed has already described the Istanbul initiative as a move “against everything that Pakistan has so far stood for”.’
In conclusion, the question is, do we look for Pakistani interests or stick to our guns and look for a solution to the unfinished story of Palestine? Several Muslim and Arab states have recognized Israel. Turkey, Egypt and Jordan are on talking terms with Israel. Why should Pakistan suffer for the cause of a people who no one seems to want to fight for? Is the greater good always what we should seek?
 Tariq Ali in The Clash of Fundamentalisms, p.89 published by Verso 2003.
 Tariq Ali in The Clash of Fundamentalisms, p.90 published by Verso 2003.
 BBC News Thursday September 1st 2005
 By Aamer Ahmed Khan BBC News, Karachi.