Saturday, October 29, 2011
The scorpion & the frog
DANIEL K. EISENBUD
One difference between terrorists and Jews is that while they praise their God when they attempt to murder us, our soldiers will beg for God’s mercy when they wipe them off the face of the earth. I have always been fascinated by the timeless parable of the scorpion and the frog. It’s a short yet powerful warning about the often immutable nature of certain beings. In this case, the deadly and incontrovertible nature of evil.
As the story goes, a scorpion asks a frog to carry it across a body of water, since the scorpion cannot swim. The frog then rightly asserts that doing so would put its life at great risk, as the scorpion is known to lethally sting other creatures, sometimes without provocation.
To counter the frog’s argument, the scorpion insists that by stinging it, both of them would drown – therefore, logic would dictate that harming the frog would be definitively self-damaging and counterintuitive.
Satisfied with the scorpion’s reasoning, the frog agrees to the tenuous proposition.
As the two reach the mid-point of their journey across the water, the scorpion reneges on its promise, and indeed stings the trusting frog, resulting in their mutual demise.
After the scorpion injects the frog with its venom, the frog asks it why.
The scorpion famously replies: “Because it’s my nature.”
THE POWER of this story lies in its truism that certain behaviors are as inherent as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west – and no matter what people say, how well they are treated, or how illogical, barbarous or self-defeating their behavior is, ultimately they will do what comes naturally. Consequences be damned.
I bring up this allegory because it is more than fitting to describe the consequences of releasing the hundreds of murderers and their accomplices from Israeli prisons in last week’s historic 1,027:1 Gilad Schalit prisoner swap.
While I fully support Gilad, and our government for ensuring his release, I also fully recognize the gravity of letting deadly animals out of their cages.
As a former police and criminal courts newspaper reporter in America, I have covered more than my fair share of heinous murders and assaults that left indelible – and often unhealed – scars on families for the remainder of their lives.
Indeed, I have been at fresh murder scenes, seen the blood of the victims, and their corpses, and then watched, sometimes for months on end, the trials of their accused killers.
AMID THE spectrum of human misery that I witnessed in the courthouse at which I worked, there was no pain I have ever seen that can match the pain in the eyes of the parents who attended the murder trial of their child’s killer.
To this day I remain haunted by their eyes.
Furthermore, I have watched convicted murderers show complete apathy – even contempt – during their own trials, and not wipe the filthy smirk off their faces even when the mothers and fathers of their victims tearfully read an impact statement before them about how these perpetrators’ deeds destroyed multiple lives.
In short, I have seen pure evil.
That said, if any one of these men were to be released from their richly deserved – and necessary – prison sentences, I cannot begin to fathom the degree of rage, pain and insult-to-injury that these families would experience.
Now, to put last week’s Palestinian prisoner release in perspective, if we were to multiply the aforementioned pain by 1,027, we’re merely in the ballpark of the rage seething in this country right now. To be sure, it’s hotter than the surface of the sun.
And rightly so.
AS A child I was exposed to the far-reaching aftermath of murder, having spent countless hours with my maternal grandparents, who survived the massacre of their beloved families and closest friends.
My grandmother, Carola, was orphaned when her parents, Bella and Joshua, were killed by Nazis. As if that were not enough, she then lost her three siblings, Herman, Adek and Stephanie.
Meanwhile, my grandfather Henek’s father, Nathan, and younger brother, Arthur, were murdered, not to mention his extended family.
Hearing their stories always broke my heart and made me feel helpless and angry – and I am two generations removed from their pain.
To this day, the only solace I ever found in dealing with my emotions regarding my family’s slaughter was in the brilliant “Serenity Prayer,” written by Reinhold Niebuhr. It states:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
“Courage to change the things I can.
“And the wisdom to know the difference.”
However, when I was a boy, I daydreamed about being a Nazi-hunter to avenge the dozens of murders in my family. To me, men like Simon Wiesenthal had answered the highest of callings, and I wanted to be by his side.
Sadly, I have no doubt that a new generation of Israelis will have similar daydreams of reprisal for the murderers of their families, released last week.
I cannot blame them.
THESE UNREPENTANT convicted killers – who were feted with a hero’s welcome by their adoring countrymen, and no doubt plan once again to pursue their depraved notion of “martyrdom” – would be wise to note the Talmud’s doctrine of the use of preemptive, lethal force.
The Talmud teaches: “If someone comes to kill you, arise and kill him first.”
That said, here’s some fair warning for our would-be recidivist attackers: We will come after you with a controlled force and efficiency you cannot begin to imagine before you harm another hair on the head of one more of our children, women and men.
One difference between you and us is that while you praise your God when you attempt to murder us, our soldiers will beg for God’s mercy when they wipe you off the face of the earth.
IN ALL practicality, the question now is not if the released terrorists will return to their nature, but when.
We don’t have time to explain the cold realities of dealing with tens of thousands of rabid scorpions to the millions of naïve men and women in the international community – the vast majority of whom have never experienced an iota of the pain Israelis continue to face so bravely after being stung, time and again.
As Sabras know all too well, the only way to defeat scorpions like Hamas is to do what Jews do best: Adapt, and become a better, more powerful scorpion.
TO DO this as efficiently and expeditiously as possible, we must put our collective differences aside regarding the absurd incongruity of the swap, and galvanize our energies like never before – intellectually, emotionally and physically – to destroy our would-be murderers before they sting again, as they most assuredly will try to do.
In this case, world opinion – which has the luxury of ignorance to believe that scorpions can change their nature – be damned.
Just ask the frog how that turns out.