Whither Pakistan? Dare One Criticize a Muslim Country?

What I find so interesting about the present turmoil in Pakistan is the continuing and disproportionate hatred heaped upon Israel in the British media, despite the appalling chaos in the Muslim nation created during partition by Mohammed Ali Jinna and with the blessing of the Earl Mountbatten.

No one ever mentions the fact that one million people died during partition in 1947. The British media have obsessed for decades on the "millions" of Arab refugees whose descendants live in camps because of the advent of the Jewish state in 1948. For years it has been all the more intriguing to me that the Guardian could have printed an article entitled "Israel Simply Has No Right to Exist" (Faisal Bodi, January 3, 2001) and that not one Jew in Britain came out onto the streets to defile the Guardian Building, burn copies of the newspaper, or create mayhem around the country at the idea of Israel ceasing to exist. Imagine if I had dared entitle this piece, or the Pajamas piece I wrote in December, "Pakistan Simply Has No Right to Exist." I would have had to escape to a remote island in the Antarctic.

Israel came into being in the same timescale as Pakistan at the twilight of the British Empire. The similarity ends there. What I try to tell angry Britons at the dinner table or in the workplace is that Israel rose from the ashes of the Shoah and that a people facing global annihilation was entitled to a small strip of land that had already begun to bloom after a hundred years of cultivation by previous generations of Jewish immigrants. Unlike in Pakistan, other faiths can worship inside Israel. Unlike in Pakistan, gay men and women can stage an annual parade. And except for Islamic terrorism from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah, Israel is a safe holiday destination for people of all nationalities and religious beliefs. In Britain it is customary for young people to enjoy a "gap year" and I always tell my incredulous friends that Israel is an ideal destination for safety and home-style comforts. They either break into a tirade about not sending their children to an "apartheid state that engages in genocide" or they simply do not believe me, thinking it a military garrison with tank commanders in Ray-Bans using Christian and Palestinian children for target practice.

When Daniel Pearl ventured into Pakistan to explore the world of Anglo-Muslim shoe-bomber Richard Reid, he was kidnapped, murdered, and mutilated. Israel-haters will argue that Rachel Corrie ventured into Gaza and was killed by an Israeli bulldozer. The difference is that Danny Pearl thought he was entering a bustling metropolis but ended up being shown not-quite-traditional Pakistani hospitality.