Iraqi Columnist: It’s time we realized that relations and normalization with Israel are not treason and that Iran is the real enemy of the Arabs


In his March 26, 2022 column in the London-based daily Emirati Al-Arab, ‘Ali Al-Sarraf, an Iraqi journalist living in Britain, defended the move by the Arab states to normalize their relations with Israel, and spoke out against those who accuse them of treason and betrayal of the Palestinian cause. Al-Sarraf explained that the Arabs have wasted decades clinging to a misguided position of denying any connection with Israel, and that today even the Palestinians themselves recognize Israel and are demanding a state alongside that country on the 1967 borders. He added that Iran, not Israel, is the real enemy of the Arabs, and that while Israel aspires to make peace with the Arabs, Iran only wants to sow destruction: it aspires to spread its Islamic revolution to the Arab world to export and be it destabilization of the region with its militias, with murders and wars. Iran, Al-Sarraf pointed out, has actually committed more crimes against them than any other enemy. He called on Arabs to stop believing that any contact with Israel or with Jews is a crime or an act of treason, and to recognize that dialogue with Israel can lead to understandings and interim solutions while contact with Iran only brings 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 earth, and the other is [the notion that] Normalization includes betrayal, collaboration and similar criminals [actions]. The fear [associated with normalization] meaning if you have a Jewish neighbor and greet him with “Guten Morgen”, his reply “Guten Morgen” could mark you with the spot of normalization. This is the case, although there are Jews who have been more loyal to the Palestinian cause than some Palestinians…

“As for the charge of treason [associated with normalization], they are based on the assumption that anyone who, for any reason, meets even with an Israeli has forsaken the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people. Furthermore, [any such meeting is regarded] as a sign of lack of self-confidence… like any meeting of this kind [i.e., with an Israeli] means recognition of Israel and an expression of the willingness to make concessions, even if one does not do so [actually] do them because one harbors treason [inclinations] and willingness to commit treason.

“For a long time, the Palestinian revolutionaries saw recognizing Israel as a reprehensible crime, but eventually they recognized it themselves. [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 one [Palestinian] Dream.

“Of course there are many explanations and justifications, but they do not detract from the fact that the stance on normalization was naive, superficial and unnuanced…

“The Khartoum Summit in August 1967 of the three nos – no to peace, no to recognition and no to negotiations – was a response to defeat [in the war with Israel that broke out] on June 5 of this year. The circumstances left no room for anything other than bombastic explanations to avoid introspection as to the reasons for the defeat. It was an evasive maneuver by people who had no way of making up for their failures. That failure, which then lasted for half a century, eventually led to peace, recognition, and bargaining, as if fate were about to teach these failing people a lesson in perseverance [so long] to a misjudgment…

“We spent 20 years accusing Egypt of treason for signing the Camp David Accords until we realized 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] The late President Anwar Sadat was not a traitor, either to his people or to 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 charge of treason at the head [Sadat]just like them [other] Revolutionaries did it – until they realized it [true] Significance of the Iranian “revolution”. Forty years exporting the [Iranian] Revolution, namely waging wars, forming militias and destabilizing the region, has radically changed perceptions of who she is [Arabs’] Enemies and friends are and who is worthy and who is not to normalize relationships.

“Simple statistics show that Iran alone has committed crimes against us in Iraq that Israel never committed in Palestine. Not to mention Syria and Yemen and the tragic situation in Lebanon. [The Iranian crimes] are not limited to murdering thousands of Sunnis just because they are “supporters of [the Caliph] Yazid;’[4] destroy cities completely; expel millions [from their homes]; Takeover of four capitals [namely, Beirut, Damascus, Sanaa and Baghdad, the capitals of four Arab countries strongly influenced by Iran]’; conducting assassination campaigns; Involved in corruption that has resulted in hundreds of billions of dollars evaporating, or [instigating] Civil wars, the effects of which have been felt for half a century. [These crimes also cause] catastrophic famine… poverty and oppression and millions of households without access to services. Half of the Syrian nation has been scattered in all directions due to a decision by Iran and its militias… An informed calculation shows which enemy has hurt us more than any other.

“Israel is a state. You can hate him and fight him, right? [alternatively] negotiate with him to win and give [certain benefits], but in any case it remains a state. Iran, on the other hand, is nothing but a gang against which no war is enough. Nor is it possible to make peace with [for] his promises cannot be trusted and agreements with him are worthless. It is able to say one thing and do the opposite, and by any agreement it can speak politely but continue to fire missiles or activate its proxies to retaliate [its enemies].

“Israel is not interested in ‘exporting’ a revolution to its neighbors. It was reluctant to settle for an official peace, 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’s a foreign body [in the region] who want to integrate and accept themselves and whose leaders want to be photographed with our leaders. Iran, on the other hand, is a native part [of the region]but one who wants to kill, expel, destroy, corrupt, spread inner strife and push [others] Fail. The problems caused by this native element are deeper and more serious than the problems caused by the foreign body [Israel]. [Moreover,] this foreign body certainly does not fight [us] about religion and the use of religion… Israel is less hostile to us than the gang [called] Iran…

“Overall, enough time has passed to realize that [saying] “Good morning” to a Jew does not necessarily mean normalization, that not every Jew is a criminal, that not every encounter with a “criminal” sets the stage for a crime, that negotiations naturally take place between enemies [and not between friends]and that maintaining ties with another country is not like maintaining ties with a gang, since relations with a state may involve intermediary treaties and agreements, while relations with a gang produce nothing but despicable servants [i.e., collaborators with Iran].”

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

[2] Apparently a reference to a 1965 speech by Bourguiba in which he said that if Israel recognized UN Resolution 181 on the partition of Palestine and 194 on the right of return for refugees and agreed to the representation of the Palestinians themselves in negotiations, the Arab states would recognize. The proposal provoked negative reactions in the Arab world, and the Israeli Prime Minister also rejected it.

[3] The statement that “the Arabs cannot do this War without Egypt; and they cannot make peace without Syria” is commonly attributed to American diplomat Henry Kissinger.

[4] That is, just because he is Sunni. This refers to the fact that the Sunnis consider the second Caliph Yazid I to be the rightful successor of the Prophet Muhammad, while the Shia believe that the Prophet’s grandson, Hussein bin ‘Ali, was the rightful heir.


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