Friday, January 9, 2009

The Frog and the Scorpion

The Israeli Army is pummeling Hamas in Gaza with heavy aerial and artillery bombardments in an effort to eradicate them from the region.

Hamas fighters hide among innocent women and children, in schools, and in tunnels deep underground. Supported by Iranian and radical Muslim organizations, and wanting the destruction of the Jewish state, Hamas will continue to shell and attack Israel until their last breath.

Israel went on the offensive after being shelled several thousand times over the past couple years. The Israeli army does not care about world public opinion. And public opinion in Israel is overwhelmingly behind their effort, no explanation needed. Further, the American government is going through a transition to a new president and new party. This was their time to act to attempt to destroy Hamas and send a strong message to its supporters.

The Middle East is a very complicated weave of religions, ideologies and interests. This is why there hasn't ever been a lasting piece in the region. Hamas is just one faction, albeit the most radical and violent in the region. In fact, none of the moderate Arab governments likes Hamas. More radical governments, such as Iran, think they are useful, and it uses them effectively. Iranian elections are around the corner and its leadership has been unpopular, oil prices are sinking, Iran is trying to expand its influence in the region. This dispute improves Iran across the board.

Soon world pressure will be too much for Israel because of civilian casualties and a new American president will take office. The result will be a cease-fire. Then the US will begin a new initiative, perhaps led by the very capable Richard Haas, who was instrumental in bringing an end to violence in Northern Ireland.

I covered 1983 Israel invasion of Beirut, it was bloody, dangerous and noisy. The Israeli army was heavy handed and brutish.

We members of the press stayed in a hotel that was off limits to military and attacks from both sides. The Israelis pounded the Palestinians. They hated, hated American press coverage.

Why? American (especially New York) supporters were watching video nightly of Israeli guns pounding the Palestinians, many of the victims being innocent woman and children.

A couple lower ranked generals called me in to complain. I defended our coverage.

A couple weeks later a military motorcade carrying General Ariel Sharon arrived at our hotel. He had breakfast with his staff and left one hour later.

Within minutes our hotel was shelled and shelled hard by the PLO. There were a few injuries and a lot of damage. Sharon had put a target on the press hotel. I am sure he knew exactly what he was doing.

When I first arrived in Lebanon I heard a riddle about the frog and the scorpion. The scorpion asks the frog to carry it across the river because it can't swim. The frog says, "but you will bite and poison me." "No, no," says the scorpion, "I would drown too." So the frog agrees and, sure enough, halfway across the river the scorpion bites the frog. As they are both sinking to certain death the frog asks the scorpion," why did you bite me?" The scorpion shrugs its shoulders and says, "It’s in our nature."

No comments: