Herbert London: Middle East Scorpions
The old story of the scorpion and the frog is pertinent yet again. A scorpion says to a frog, “will you escort me across the Red Sea? The frog replies, “Are you crazy, you will bite me and I will drown. The scorpion notes if I bite you and you drown I will drown as well since I cannot swim. The frog, persuaded by the logic, reconsiders and asks the scorpion to hop on his back as he starts to swim across the sea. Half way to his destination, the scorpion bites him. As the frog descends, he says to the scorpion, “why would you do this? Now we will both die.” The scorpion replies: “Because this is the Middle East.”
Alas, this war between Hamas and Israel reflects the moral of this story. Hamas must realize it cannot win this war. In fact, it is isolated from its Arab allies. Egypt may be more inclined to see Hamas decimated than to achieve victories. Yet Hamas persists in firing missile after missile in a relentless effort to intimidate Israel into vague concessions, e.g. improve the condition of Palestinians. A refusal to consider a cease fire, clearly suggests Hamas leadership has lost touch with reality. In fact, there is a question that looms over the horizon: How do you cope with a nation-state intent on suicidal impulses? It cannot be ignored and it cannot be accepted.
This is an Israeli dilemma made even more extreme when the so-called moderate Palestinian President for life Abbas discusses his alliance and emotional ties with Hamas and its attendant murderous ways. What possible negotiation can occur when an adversary who has only one goal: your annihilation?
The curious matter, of course, is that Hamas still has supporters. European nations still pour funds into both the West Bank and Gaza and the United States does so as well. Lip service is still given to a two state solution despite the fact it is evident a Palestinian state will be converted into a chemical – katyusha terror nation like Gaza. Any other expectation would be utterly unrealistic.
Yet there are many who deny reality. Left wing Israeli politicians still hold on to the fantasy that Palestinians will live in peace with Israeli neighbors. The Obama administration still embraces the absurd idea that a negotiated settlement is possible, notwithstanding Kerry’s failure at the negotiating table. Doesn’t Kerry and Obama realize this is the Middle East.
Here, terror reigns. It is in the culture that surrounds Arab life. Surely there are exceptions, people who insulate themselves from hateful propaganda. But words of hate are ubiquitous. They are in the markets, movie theatres, tv programs, even crossword puzzles. In my opinion, it would take a cultural revolution to undo the hateful mindset. That isn’t to suggest the situation is hopeless. Time may indeed be on the side of an ironic disposition, but it will take at least one generation for this to unfold.
In the meantime Israel should remain resolute. The only way to deal with those who want to destroy you is demonstrate that you cannot be destroyed. Now that troops are deployed in Gaza, every effort will made to ferret out the rocket caches and destroy them. The army will try to contain collateral damage, but there aren’t any guarantees on that front. Many of the members of the chattering class will raise the issue of proportionality. Of course what really counts is the impression that Israel will not be intimidated or terrorized. This military occupation will succeed. Although this might appear as wishful thinking, sometimes the scorpions destroy themselves.
Herbert London is President of the London Center for Policy Research, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the book The Transformational Decade (University Press of America). You can read all of Herb London’s commentaries atwww.londoncenter.org
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