(photo credit: Courtesy)
‘My enemy’s enemy is my friend” is described both as a Chinese and an Arabic
proverb that is used to explain how someone can make a pact with the devil if it
helps their cause. Sometimes called “the devil’s pact,” it’s not a good policy,
even if it does have historical weight in the Middle East.
One of the
first such pacts was made by Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Jerusalem mufti during
the Palestine Mandate who reached out to the Germans during World War II. The
Germans were railing against international Zionism, although no one yet knew the
extent of the Nazi horrors.
It was a pact of convenience, not hatred,
often used to wrongly demonize all Palestinians.
Like the US,
Palestinians also made a pact with Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s tyrant who was finally
toppled and replaced by a new tyrant, Halliburton.
Saddam began as a
client of the US in his decades-long war with Iran.
Of course, the US had
a stronger pact with Iran’s pre-ayatollah tyrant, the shah of Iran, whose
government murdered hundreds of thousands of dissidents.
turned to Saddam when the Iraqi dictator, seeking to exploit their suffering for
his own political benefit, gave the families of suicide bombers money; Israel’s
policy of collective punishment violated international laws and punished
innocent people for the crimes of others.
Although the gesture was good,
the source and motive were corrupt.
NOW, MANY Palestinians are turning to
the strident fanaticism of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the “president” of Iran. Like
Saddam, Ahmadinejad uses the suffering of the Palestinian people to tug at the
heartstrings of the pro-Palestinian movement. It is a pact with the devil that
Palestinians should avoid. But in a world where support from major powers is
weak, Ahmadinejad’s abrasive assaults against Israel have attracted many
But Ahmadinejad is a demagogue.
After making his
outrageous claims at the UN that the US was somehow involved in the terrorist
attack of September 11, 2001, a group of activists – mostly extremists but
including some Palestinians – met with Ahmadinejad. They praised the Iranian
tyrant and he praised them. I am sure they left the meeting agreeing that his
voice can help pull the veil from Israel’s brutal occupation – a veil that is
wrapped tightly around the eyes of most Americans.
But like the
proverbial pact with the Germans and Saddam, cheering Ahmadinejad does not help
the Palestinian cause. In fact, it harms it.
The Palestinians do not need
to cuddle up to tyrants to find friends; they have a just cause as they
challenge Israel’s policies. The issue of settlements is not one of family
growth, as Israel contends, but rather one of land theft – theft that is a
counterweight to the fight against terrorism.
When Israel doesn’t follow
through on its often-empty peace promises, some activists see the devil’s pact
as an attractive option.
Palestinians should purge the Arabic proverbs
that have helped bring down Palestinian aspirations for statehood. They should
slam the door on Ahmadinejad’s hypocrisies, and challenge his own oppressive
tyranny. Having principles means that when you criticize one enemy, you never
embrace the devil. Principle means that when you stand up for justice in the
cause of Palestine, you stand up for justice in the cause of those persecuted by
Iran, such as the hikers who have been jailed for more than a year, or the
hundreds of political activists who speak out against its vicious
Having principles means that when a Palestinian kills an
Israeli, you speak out as forcefully as you would when an Israeli kills a
Sure, Israelis could use these words of advice too. After
all, they have stolen Palestine’s felafels and the Arabic proverbs too, making
their own pacts with the devil.
But you don’t do your justice any justice
if you defend your wrongs by saying the other side does it too, or by accepting
the canard that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
Ahmadinejad is not
our friend.The writer is an award winning columnist and Chicago radio
talk show host. www.YallaPeace.com