Frog Bites Scorpion*
On April 9, Palestinian terrorists from the Gaza Strip attacked the Nahal Oz fuel terminal in Israel near the border. Two Israeli workers were killed. Shortly before, a shipment of diesel fuel for the Gaza power plant, paid for by the European Union, had left there.
What makes this attack especially significant—and horrible—is that the only reason the terminal was open and the workers were present was to supply the needs of the Gaza Strip’s population. In previous months, the international media and many governments criticized Israel for not doing enough to help Gaza, despite the fact that the area is ruled by an openly anti-Semitic regime which makes clear its goal of destroying Israel, and also daily fires mortars and rockets into Israel. Indeed, as part of this attack, several mortar shells were fired at the terminal.
Hamas, and the world, cannot have it both ways. Either Hamas is the aggressor while Israel is the victim, in which case there should be full international support and favorable media coverage for Israel. Or if unwilling to take such an appropriate stance, the world cannot expect Israel to risk its people’s lives to fuel Gaza machine shops that make rockets to assault it and should stop complaining about Israeli actions in self-defense.
In either case, the latest attacks make even clear what should already be obvious: Hamas is responsible for any suffering in the Gaza Strip. And if Israel should cut off all fuel deliveries to the Gaza power plant, which would only affect about one-quarter of the area’s supplies, it is fully justified in doing so.
The situation, however, goes even beyond this: Hamas is deliberately intensifying the suffering in order to use it as a pretext for its own failure as government, its attacks on Israel, and its ability to beg for international support for victim.
Could the situation possibly be any more obvious?
Apparently it is still not obvious enough for too much of the media and too much of the Western political establishments. Of course, there are many exceptions and more so as time goes on.
One of the classic Middle East stories is the tale of the frog and the scorpion. The scorpion demands that the frog provide a ride across the river on his back. “But you will sting me and I will die,” protests the frog.
The scorpion points out, in response, that since he cannot swim he would not do such a rash thing since he, too, would drown.
The frog agrees.
The scorpion climbs onto the frog and they set off. But in the middle of the river the scorpion stings the frog, and as they sink beneath the water the frog complains, “Why did you do that? Now we’ll both die!”
And the scorpion complains: “Well, what do you expect, this is the Middle East.”
So goes the story in its traditional form. But now we can add some additional modern touches.
First, in the new version the scorpion declares that he will sting the frog without any doubt. But the frog agrees to take the scorpion because he is encouraged or intimidated by onlookers’ remarks on onlookers—“What! You won’t take that poor scorpion on a ride? What kind of imperialist, racist aggressor are you?”
Second, after the duo drowns, the next day newspapers run the following headlines:
“Frog in Unprovoked Attack on Scorpion!”
“Cycle of Violence Continues”
“Frog Uses Excessive Force on Scorpion Civilian”
* Based on the classic journalistic saying, “Man Bites Dog, news; Dog Bites Man, no news.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center http://www.gloriacenter.org and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal http://meria.idc.ac.il. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).