New York – After the disastrous earthquake in Pakistan killing over 20,000 people, President Pervez Musharraf “made an urgent televised appeal on Sunday for international aid.” (New York Times – 10/10/05) Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom reported that “Israel immediately offered humanitarian aid to Pakistan, but that Israel’s offer has gone unanswered.” (Jerusalem Post – 10-09/05)
This snub by Pakistan is especially shocking in light of the fact that President Musharraf broke new ground by being the first Pakistani president to speak to a large audience of Jewish leaders in New York last month. Most Jewish leaders and analysts hailed this as a “historic breakthrough” even a “revolutionary breakthrough.” But we, at the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) found his speech that night to be painful and disappointing. In addition to his making demands of Israel while demanding nothing of the Palestinians, he also said, “I do not have an iota of doubt that the Israeli-Palestinian problem lies at the heart of terrorism in the Middle East and beyond.” This statement is both shocking and ludicrous.
The Muslims have been murdering Jews before Israel existed. Nor do terrorist bombings in New York, Bali, the Philippines, Britain and Spain, or wars between Iran and Iraq, or Iraq and Kuwait have anything to do with Israel. It is noteworthy that when Al Qaeda listed its reasons for war with the West in 1997, Israel did not make it into the top five.
Musharraf also said, “We must look at the root causes of terrorists that pushes them to such extremes of desperation.” But as I said to Pakistani TV that night, the root causes of Palestinian terrorism are the same as the root cause of the Nazi murder of Jews — simply that they educate their people to hate and murder Jews.
Musharraf also demanded that “ any final settlement must respect the international character of Jerusalem as well as the (anti-Israel) resolutions of the UN Security Council.”
These statements are very damaging because, coming from someone now perceived as a moderate reaching out to Jews, they might actually reinforce the present similar extremist attitudes to Israel and Jews in the Muslim world.
Tashbiy Sayyed, a Pakistani-American and editor of Muslim World Today and former editor of Pakistan Today, wrote an analysis of Musharraf’s recent ostensible overture to Israel and Jews. Sayyed wrote in a recent article about Pakistan, “I did not find any one in Pakistan who wants Israel to exist, and though they were all for Palestinians, most supported General Musharraf’s policies directed at eventually recognizing the Jewish state.
“And the reasons are not hard to fathom.
“General Pervez Musharraf’s overtures toward Israel reflect the change in the Wahhabi and Islamist short term strategy. They no longer want to appear as a violent and radical breed. Some of the important Islamists support Musharraf’s Israeli policy as something that can be used as a cover to advance an anti-western agenda without being noticed.
They pointed out that what happened in Taliban’s Afghanistan has taught them that the jihad has reached a stage when Muslim states need to use Israel’s influence and clout to be accepted as moderate and tolerant people. Under this cover they can organize their forces, consolidate their resources and spread their power bases without inviting resistance from the ‘infidels’.
“Pakistan, it seems, agrees with this strategy. Some of the factors driving Pakistani sentiments about themselves and Pakistan’s place in the global community are Islam, India and the U.S. And underneath all these sentiments lies the Wahhabi politics of presenting Israel as the most important anti-Islam force. But in the aftermath of Taleban’s defeat in Afghanistan and removal of Saddam Hussein in Iraq Wahhabis are adapting to the changing geo-political realities without abandoning their main objective of establishing their Shariah state in the world — they are now ready to practice Tagayya (deception).
“This policy of deception will allow them to appear to be recognizing the Jewish state when in fact they will continue to work for its destruction. The word is out that for the time being Musharraf is not to be opposed. Consequently, there has been no notable demonstration against Musharraf on the issue of Israel
“Others supported the move on the ground that the contacts between the sole Muslim nuclear power and the Jewish state after nearly six decades of hostility will improve Pakistan’s image in the West and with the United States’ influential Jewish lobby. ‘It has opened a new diplomatic channel for Pakistan and the pro-Israeli groups in the United States will not oppose Pakistan to the extent they used to do in the past,’ political scientist Hasan Askari said. Askari said, ‘The influential Jewish groups will now be sensitive to Pakistan’s problems particularly with India.’
“There is something else that has prompted even extremist religious groups that are driven by their anti-Semitic passions not to come out on the streets against General Musharraf’s pro-Israel moves — Anti-Semitic and anti-Israel groups agree with General Musharraf that for the time being it is important that Pakistan drives maximum benefit for strengthening its ranks and resources by staying with the U.S. without giving up any of its leverages ”
ZOA President Morton A. Klein said, “We are deeply disappointed by President Musharraf’s snub of Israel’s generous offer of aid. It seems to indicate that Pakistan’s hatred of Jews is greater than their desire to save Pakistani lives. By this appalling action, Pakistan seems to refuse to acknowledge Israel’s very existence as a state simply because it’s filled with Jews. The only other country that has refused Israel’s aid is Iran, which said at the time, ‘The Islamic republic of Iran accepts all kinds of humanitarian aid from all countries and international organizations, with the exception of the Zionist regime.’
“Other Muslim countries including Turkey and Indonesia have accepted Israel’s help. President Musharraf should be ashamed of himself for aligning himself with Iran on this issue.
“And the Jewish leaders should rethink the wisdom of the standing ovation they gave Musharraf at the Marriott Marquis on the night of September 17, 2005.”