The enemy of my enemy is my friend

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The enemy of my enemy is my friend

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sat Apr 02, 2005 6:39 am

I heard the expression ‘THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY IS MY FRIEND’ used in a radio interview this evening and got to wondering where it came from. It turns out to be an ancient Arab proverb expressing the opinion that opponents of the same person or thing naturally become allies. The following are some examples of its use:
<1985 “In California, I’m an outsider. So is Wolf, so we’re natural allies. ‘THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY S MY FRIEND,’ as I believe the Arabs say . . .”—‘Queenie’ by Michael Korda>

<1987 “Up to now, Israel followed the ancient adage of ‘THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY IS MY FRIEND.’—‘New York Times,’ William Safire>

<1991 “While the government of Iran had no great sympathy for communism, they apparently believed that the Sandinistas qualified for that old Middle Eastern proverb: THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY IS MY FRIEND.”—‘Under Fire’ by Oliver North>

<1994 “The proverb ‘MY ENEMY’S ENEMY IS MY FRIEND’ lends support to the notion that Israel is somehow culpable for the emergence of the militant Hamas movement . . . Yasir Arafat attempts to advance this myth, holding Israel responsible for his own problems . . . King Hussein of Jordan has chosen to be an enemy of Hamas, which has made him a friend of Israel. In response to Mr. Arafat’s indulgence of Hamas, Israeli leaders should be asking themselves, What does the proverb say about the friend of my enemy?—‘New York Times’>

<2001 “‘THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY IS MY FRIEND,’ so goes an old Arab proverb. This idea has come back in vogue in U.S. politics as the Bush Administration over the weekend lifted sanctions against India and the military government of Pakistan as part of an effort to enlist these nations in military action against Osama bin Laden and terrorism.”—‘Forbes Magazine,’ 24 September>
(Random House Dictionary of America’s Popular Proverbs and Sayings, Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs, Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs)


Ken G – April 1, 2005

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