The ancient proverb “the enemy of your enemy is your friend” has been proven wrong countless times throughout history, and remains painfully wrong in today’s Middle East.
The more modern political strategy – that enemies must be created to strengthen a candidate, and alliances must be avoided because they weaken a candidate – is much more correct.
US president-elect Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are the best but not the only examples.
In the election Trump won on Tuesday, and in Netanyahu’s last race in March 2015, they both sought to run against the most hated possible rival.
No, not Hillary Clinton or Isaac Herzog.
There were too many people sympathetic to the notion of the first woman president, and Herzog is too friendly to despise.
Trump and Netanyahu chose to run instead against the ultimate rival: the media. Polls in Israel and the US have found that no occupation is loathed more than journalists.
In political rallies across the US, Trump would insult the press. The list of media outlets he blacklisted by the end of the campaign included The New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, Univision and Politico.
It is no wonder that at his victory party in New York, Trump supporters stuck out their middle finger at the press box and told the reporters covering the event that they lost.
Netanyahu ran commercials blasting the top-rated Hebrew news website Ynet as Lie-Net and comparing Israel Broadcasting Authority workers to Hamas.
The prime minister’s battle against the media has not ended. It continues with his efforts to close the Israel Broadcasting Corporation and his lengthy letter this week full of personal insults to Channel 2 newsmagazine host Ilana Dayan.
Trump learned from Netanyahu and vice versa, and they are not alone. French National Front Party leader Marine Le Pen is also running a presidential campaign by running against the media, as is Geert Wilders in the Netherlands.
Avoiding alliances was also helpful to Netanyahu and Trump. Netanyahu raided his satellite parties for votes. While Clinton had celebrities endorse her, Trump acted as a lone wolf, with no one but himself to bring him down.
Trump, like Netanyahu, ended his campaign as a big winner. The losers are the folks writing for newspapers and broadcasting your news on TV.
And the enemies of the enemies of Netanyahu and Trump are not their friends. Their victories have proven that if you have the right enemies, you don’t need friends.