As I've often observed, the one thing you can always count on in the miserable snakepit of the Middle East is that the Palestinians, given a choice of courses of action, will consistently take the one that is in their worst interest.
We've seen this exemplified again and again over the past year: the Israelis withdrew from Gaza and, instead of seizing the opportunity to clean up the area, build new housing for the population, and create a functioning "statelet," the Palestinians immediately began fighting among themselves and using northern Gaza as a launching point for mortars and missiles targeting Israel. The Isreaelis reacted as you might expect. And then, when you thought it couldn't get much worse, Palestinian militants kidnapped an Israeli soldier and held him for ransom. The result: Israel has reoccupied much of Gaza, cracking down hard on the Palestinians and causing more damage to an already-ruined economy and physical infrastructure.
Not to be outdone, Hezbollah militants operating from southern Lebanon attacked an Israeli patrol, killing several soldiers and kidnapping two. The result: Isreal has moved into southern Lebanon and is pounding the area with artillery and air strikes...and CNN is reporting, as I write this, they have also bombed the Beirut airport and put it out of operation.
Maybe it's just me and my simple-minded approach to things, but this is complete lunacy. The Palestinians knew perfectly well how the Israelis would react to their actions, but went ahead anyhow, knowing that more innocent civilians would be killed, more property destroyed, and what's left of their economy ruined. But in their bizarrely-twisted mindset, it's more important to attack Israel than it is to get their own house in order and build a better future for their children.
Those who know me well know that I am not an apologist for Israel, although I do understand and appreciate the Israeli desire for security. And while I sympathize with the aspirations of the Palestinians for their own viable, functioning state, I am constantly amazed by their stubborn refusal to take the measures that are most likely to help them attain that goal. I often think that the best way to resolve the intractable problems of the Middle East would be to dispose of all our excess nuclear weapons there and let everyone start over.
Today, I've beaten up on the Palestinians; tomorrow, we'll discuss the Israelis. More thoughts then.