What's Hebrew for "mess with the bull, you'll get the horns?"

Envy is a curious thing. Some people simply can’t stand to see others get attention, even horribly fatal attention, while they are being snubbed.

That is the only possible explanation I can conceive for Hezbollah’s deciding to emulate Hamas recently. Hamas invaded Israel, killed several soldiers, and kidnapped one. In response, Israel is incrementally destroying every shred of Hamas, ignoring offers of trading that single Israeli soldier for a thousand or so Palestinian prisoners (indicating that Hamas agrees with me — one Israeli is worth about a thousand Palestinians) and instead hitting them harder and harder — blowing up buildings, capturing or killing leaders, and in general raining chaos on the region that has inflicted so much carnage and death on Israel over the years.

Quite frankly, I don’t see just what Hamas is gaining out of this, but somehow Hezbollah must see some sort of upside, because now they’ve emulated Hamas. They have done their own invasion of Israel and in a “anything dumb you can do, I can do dumber” move, have kidnapped two Israeli soldiers. And, predictably, Israel’s is much the same — no negotiations, just more and more military action.

So now Hezbollah has brought down the wrath of the Israeli military on southern Lebanon. And the possibility of any of those prisoners being released — already nonexistent — is, somehow, even lesser now.

I see two possible explanations for this. One, as above, is that once again we are seeing affirmation of the old observation that “the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” and are once again demonstrating to look at all the possible courses of actions and find the single dumbest, least productive, most self-defeating option — and leap on it with both feet.

The other possibility is that there is a plan behind this, a puppet master pulling the strings and engineering events for their own purposes.

Hmm… Israel’s military might is being focused on the north and the southwest. All their attention is on Gaza and Lebanon. In fact, much of the world’s attention is on Israel and those two regions. As the conspiracy theorists like to say, cui bono? Who benefits?

Well, I note a decided decline in coverage of Iran and its nuclear ambitions and bellicose threats. And Syria, having come under Israel’s glare over the Gaza kidnapping (even to the point of buzzing Dorktator Bashar Assad’s summer home), has rather extensive ties with Hezbollah (to put it mildly), certainly would be interested in having Israel bogged down in Gaza and southern Lebanon.

Let us also not forget that Iran and Syria have a defense pact.

Could this all be a part of an Iranian/Syrian plot against Israel? Get them bogged down in Gaza and Lebanon, leaving them vulnerable to a direct strike?

I think not. It’s too Machiavellian, too Karl Rovian, for these people to conceive of and arrange. But I certainly think that there is an element of opportunism here.

I honestly don’t believe that the initial kidnapping of Gilad Shalit was part of some grand conspiracy. I suspect a group of Hamas terrorists came up with that plan on their own, got some support without going into particulars, and then pulled it off. After the fact, the leadership of Hamas was faced with a dilemma: renounce the actions as rogue elements, or embrace them. They chose a middle course, doing both (hey, does anyone know where John Kerry is?), because to do the smart and right thing (give Shalit back, and THEN push for concessions from Israel after this “gesture of good faith”), they got wrapped up in their pride and arrogance.

After that, it became simple political opportunism. Israel engaging Hamas serves many people’s political interests. The Arab world gets fresh video of “Zionist oppression” and “atrocities.” The Palestinians get fresh excuses to claim eternal victimhood. Iran gets out from under the world’s microscope. Syria gets a good look at the state of the art in Isareli weapons and tactics. And so on. And so on.

Where will all this lead? I don’t know. I don’t think Israel has the means and will to sustain the low-to-moderate fighting going on in Lebanon and Gaza. I suspect they will look for a way to end it, and end it quickly — quite possibly through escalating matters until they reach a breaking point. Hamas and Hezbollah can’t withstand the level of assault they are facing now, and certainly will have to crumble if pushed even harder.

I’ve often thought that the rounds and rounds of futile “peace talks” were just postponing the inevitable, an all-out war between Israel and the terrorists and nations that seek their destruction. That delaying this decisive defeat of the anti-Israeli forces would settle the question of Israel’s existence would only make it bloodier, more expensive. This could be the beginning of that final conflict.

But I doubt it. That’d be too tidy.

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