April 25, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 9922

Iraqi Columnist: It's Time We Realized That Ties And Normalization With Israel Are Not Treason And That Iran Is The Real Enemy Of The Arabs

April 25, 2022
Iran, Iraq | Special Dispatch No. 9922

In his March 26, 2022 column in the London-based Emirati daily Al-Arab, 'Ali Al-Sarraf, an Iraqi journalist who resides in Britain, defended the move of the Arab states that have normalized their relations with Israel, and came out against those who accuse them of treason and of betraying the Palestinian cause. Al-Sarraf stated that the Arabs wasted decades sticking to a misguided position that rejects any ties with Israel, and that today even the Palestinians themselves recognize Israel and demand a state on the 1967 borders, alongside this country. He added that Iran, and not Israel, is the real enemy of the Arabs, and that, while Israel aspires to make peace with the Arabs, Iran wants only to sow destruction: it strives to export its Islamic revolution to the Arab world and is destabilizing the region with its militias and with murders and wars. Iran, Al-Sarraf stressed, has in fact committed more crimes towards them than any other enemy. He called on the Arabs to stop believing that any contact with Israel or with Jews is a crime or an act of treason, and to realize that dialogue with Israel can lead to understandings and interim solutions, whereas contact with Iran brings only harm.  

'Ali Al-Sarraf (Source:

The following are translated excerpts from his article:[1]

"'Normalization' is a term that has always had two implications. One is an automatic fear of every Israeli and even every Jew on the face of the earth, and the other is [the notion that] normalization involves treason, collaboration and similar criminal [actions]. The fear [associated with normalization] means that, if you have a Jewish neighbor and you greet him with 'good morning,' his answer of 'good morning' could mark you with the stain of normalization. This is the case even though there are Jews who have been more loyal to the Palestinian cause than some Palestinians…

"As for the accusation of treason [associated with normalization], it are based on the assumption  that anyone who even meets with an Israeli, for any reason whatsoever, has relinquished the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people. Moreover, [any such meeting is regarded] as a sign of lack of self-confidence… as though every meeting of this kind [i.e., with an Israeli] means recognition of Israel and an expression of one's willingness to make concessions, even if one does not [actually] make them, because one harbors treasonous [inclinations] and a willingness to commit treason.

"For a long time, the Palestinian revolutionaries saw recognition of Israel as a reprehensible crime, but eventually they themselves recognized it. Furthermore, [the late Tunisian president] Habib Bourguiba was [called] traitor for urging the Palestinians to agree to a state on the 1967 borders,[2] but [now] this reprehensible crime has become an unattainable [Palestinian] dream.

"The explanations and justifications are many, of course, but they do not detract from the fact that the stance on normalization has been naïve, superficial and unnuanced…

 "The August 1967 Khartoum summit of the three no's  – no to peace, no to recognition and no to negotiations – was a response to the defeat [in the war with Israel that broke out] on June 5 that year. The circumstances did not leave room for anything but bombastic declarations, out of a desire to avoid any self-examination to figure out the reasons for the defeat. It was an act of evasion by people who had no means to redress their failure. This failure, which then continued for half a century, eventually led to peace, recognition and negotiations, as though fate wanted to teach these failing people a lesson for sticking [so long] to a miscalculation…

"We spent 20 years accusing Egypt of treason for signing the Camp David Accords, until we realized that 'there will be no war [against Israel] without Egypt, and no peace [with it] without Syria.'[3] [We also came to realize that Egypt's] late president Anwar Sadat was not a traitor, either against his people or against the Palestinian cause. When he went to Jerusalem in 1977 he wanted for the Palestinians what the PLO wants today. This is the same PLO that hurled every possible accusation of treason at [Sadat], just as the [other] revolutionaries did – until they realized the [true] meaning of the Iranian 'revolution.' Forty years of exporting the [Iranian] revolution, namely of waging wars, forming militias and destabilizing the region, radically changed the perception of who the [Arabs'] enemies and friends are, and who is and isn't worthy of normalizing relations with. 

"Simple statistics show that, in Iraq alone, Iran has committed crimes against us that Israel never committed in Palestine. Not to mention Syria and Yemen, and the tragic situation in Lebanon. [The Iranian crimes] are not confined to murdering thousands of Sunnis just for being 'supporters of [the Caliph] Yazid;'[4] completely destroying cities; expelling millions [from their homes]; taking over four capitals [namely, Beirut, Damascus, Sanaa and Baghdad, the capitals of four Arab countries strongly influenced by Iran]'; carrying out assassination campaigns; engaging in corruption that has caused hundreds of billions of dollars to evaporate, or [instigating] civil wars whose effects have been felt for half a century. [These crimes also cause] disastrous famine… poverty and oppression, and leave millions of households without access to services. Half the Syrian nation has been dispersed in every direction, due to a decision by Iran and its militias… An informed calculation reveals which enemy hurt us more than any other. 

"Israel is a state. One may hate it and fight it, or [alternatively] negotiate with it in order to gain and give [certain benefits], but in any case it remains a state. Iran, on the other hand, is nothing but a gang that no war is sufficient to deal with. Nor is it possible to make peace with it, [for] its promises cannot be trusted and agreements with it are worthless. It is capable of saying one thing and doing the opposite, and after every agreement, it may speak sweetly but continue to launch missiles or activate its proxies to take revenge on [its enemies].

"Israel is not interested in 'exporting a revolution' to its neighbors. It was barely willing to settle for an official peace that was described as 'cold' [and could not be warmer because] we, the [Arab] officials and peoples, are still interested in a just solution to the Palestinian problem. It is a foreign body [in the region] that wants to become integrated and accepted and whose leaders want to be photographed with our leaders. Iran, on the other hand, is a native part [of the region], but one that wants to kill, expel, destroy, corrupt, spread internal strife and push [others] to failure. The trouble caused by this native element is deeper and more serious than the trouble caused by the foreign body [Israel]. [Moreover,] this foreign body is certainly not fighting [us] over religion and using religion… Israel is less hostile to us than the gang [called] Iran…     

"In sum, enough time has passed for us to realize that [saying]  'good morning' to a Jew does not necessarily mean normalization, that not every Jew is a criminal, that not every meeting with a ‘criminal’ prepares the ground for a crime, that negotiations naturally take place between enemies [and not between friends], and that maintaining ties with a fellow country is not like maintaining ties with a gang, because relations with a state can involve interim contracts and agreements, whereas relations with a gang will yield nothing but despicable servants [i.e., collaborators with Iran]."


[1] Al-Arab (London), March 26, 2022.

[2]  Apparently a reference to a speech made by Bourguiba in 1965, in which he said that, if Israel recognized UN resolution 181, on the partition of Palestine, and 194, on the refugees' right of return, and agreed for the Palestinians to be represent themselves in negotiations, the Arab states would recognize it. The proposal evoked negative reactions in the Arab world, and the Israeli prime minister rejected it as well.

[3] The statement that ‘the Arabs can't make war without Egypt; and they can't make peace without Syria’ is generally attributed to American diplomat Henry Kissinger.

[4] I.e., just for being Sunni. This is a reference to the fact that the Sunnis regard the second caliph, Yazid I, as the rightful successor of the Prophet Muhammad, whereas the Shi'ites believe that the Prophet's grandson, Hussein bin 'Ali, was the rightful heir.

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