In the ancient fable (somewhat adapted), a frog prepares to swim across a the river. A scorpion, too, wants to get to the other side and so, since it cannot swim, asks the frog to carry it across on its back. The frog hesitates, knowing the scorpion’s history and reputation. But it is assured when the scorpion admits that it cannot swim and would drown if it harmed the frog. The frog agrees. Halfway across the river, though, the scorpion stings the frog, mortally .
The dying frog asks “Why, scorpion, did you do betray me, even to your own destruction?”
The scorpion replies: “That’s who I am. That’s what I do.”
One can make deals with the scorpions in our midst. Cease firing.
Exchange hostages. Negotiate statehood. But scorpions they are.
There’s a variation on the story. A turtle takes the role of the frog, carrying the scorpion across. True to character, the scorpion strikes the turtle, even knowing that it cannot penetrate its shell. The turtle asks “Why?” and the scorpion retorts, “I cannot defy my nature.” So, the turtle judges the scorpion wicked and drowns it, so it could not harm another.
Perhaps – probably – Israel must carry the scorpions on its back. The tragedy they are inflicting on its hostages is too great to abstain.
Knowing that they will strike, though, Israel can prepare to be the turtle, not the frog.
© Ron Litchman 2024
Ron Litchman is a recovered lawyer and freelance writer often found in his Catskills, New York, writer’s retreat and always at Heterodoxies@persuacious.com .