The Middle East is a confusing place. Whenever I have guests from abroad and try to explain our crazy situation -- they lose track after 10-15 minutes. I always get the same desperate, tired look and the insight that logic in the Middle East is best described like the facebook status -- "it's complicated."
I can't explain that logic, but I think the next story maybe the best metaphor. I'm not sure how true the story is -- somewhere between The National Enquirer and Fox News.
A young woman lives in a tiny apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side. She shares that small space with a big old German-Shepherd. Then one sunny day -- she finds the dog has died. Horrified, she calls the veterinarian and asks what to do. No worries, says the vet, bring it to the clinic and for $150 we'll bury it for you.
The young woman, however, lives in the Upper West Side and the clinic is in Brooklyn. She takes an old suitcase and with tears in her eyes squeezes the dead dog's body in it. Then she heads for the train -- a small young woman with a big heavy suitcase. The subway ride is fine but she runs into trouble when she gets off. The dog is really heavy and she can't get it up the stairs.
A man offers her help, and together they drag the suitcase. He asks her why it's so heavy, and the woman, embarrassed about carrying a dead dog, lies, saying she's moving and it's her computer.
As they get to the top of the stairs the man suddenly grabs the suitcase, and runs away with it. The bastard robbed her.
Instinctively she starts screaming "robber! Stop the robber!" but then she thinks to herself -- $150 is a lot of money, and she stops screaming and goes back down the stairs with the nastiest smile that has ever graced someone's face.
I'm not a rich person, but I would give all I have to see the look on the robbers face when he gets home, happy with the heavy baggage he stole, and opens the suitcase...
The lesson for the Middle-East is this -- You never really know what the implications of anything are. Free elections in the Palestinian authority were supposed to be a good thing -- but then we got stuck with the terror organization Hamas as the government. The downfall of the friendliest leader to Israel in Egypt was supposed to be a catastrophe, but no one knows if the new leader won't be even more peaceful. Intelligence people are amazed time after time by the reality.
The only thing you can know is that when someone tries to help you -- you never know what their real intentions are -- and when someone tries to hurt you, there is a good chance they will end up with a dead German Shepherd in their house.