Sunday, April 20, 2008

Irrational Politics

Irrationality characterizes politics in the Middle East, perhaps more than politics anywhere else. The name of this blog admits that. It comes from the hoary story of a frog that is ferrying a scorpion across the Jordan River. The frog was initially reluctant to do that, explaining to the scorpion, "you will sting me in mid river and I shall die." The scorpion had answered, "that would not make sense. If you die, I shall die with you, since I cannot swim." And impressed by that argument the frog agreed. Halfway across, the scorpion stung the frog. As it died, the frog said, "we agreed that would not make sense." The scorpion replied, "Yes, but you forgot this is the Middle East."

Hamas, perhaps driven by desperation, incompetence or raw emotions, appears to have set a new example of irrationality, so mundane and instant as to be laughable -- were it not also symptomatic of the dead ends of efforts to limit violence, suffering and hate in the Middle East. Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri today rejected a proposal by the Egyptian Foreign Minister. That proposal called for a cessation of rocket attacks by Hamas on Israel, an end of Israeli targeting of Palestinians, the exchange of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners for the Israel soldier Gilad Shavit and a referendum among Palestinians to decide the principles for negotiations with Israel. The spokesman particularly objected to the referendum, proclaiming that sacred national rights of Palestinians, e.g., Jerusalem, the right of return, could not be subject to a vote. At the same time he took exception to the foreign minister saying that Hamas in a Palestinian government would increase the difficulty of negoations with Israel and demanded a retraction. What is the man thinking and whom is he trying to fool?


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