If you’ve been following the news from Israel, you might have the impression that “violence” is killing a lot of people. As in this headline: “Palestinian Killed As Violence Continues.” Or this first paragraph: “Violence and bloodshed radiating outward from flash points in Jerusalem and the West Bank appear to be shifting gears and expanding, with Gaza increasingly drawn in.”
Read further, and you might also get a sense of who, according to Western media, is perpetrating “violence.” As in: “Two Palestinian Teenagers Shot by Israeli Police,” according to one headline. Or: “Israeli Retaliatory Strike in Gaza Kills Woman and Child, Palestinians Say,” according to another.
Such was the media’s way of describing two weeks of Palestinian assaults that began when Hamas killed a Jewish couple as they were driving with their four children in the northern West Bank. Two days later, a Palestinian teenager stabbed two Israelis to death in Jerusalem’s Old City, and also slashed a woman and a 2-year-old boy. Hours later, another knife-wielding Palestinian was shot and killed by Israeli police after he slashed a 15-year-old Israeli boy in the chest and back.
Other Palestinian attacks include the stabbing of two elderly Israeli men and an assault with a vegetable peeler on a 14-year-old. On Sunday, an Arab-Israeli man ran over a 19-year-old female soldier at a bus stop, then got out of his car, stabbed her, and attacked two men and a 14-year-old girl. Several attacks have been carried out by women, including a failed suicide bombing.
Regarding the causes of this Palestinian blood fetish, Western news organizations have resorted to familiar tropes. Palestinians have despaired at the results of the peace process—never mind that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas just declared the Oslo Accords null and void. Israeli politicians want to allow Jews to pray atop the Temple Mount—never mind that Benjamin Netanyahu denies it and has barred Israeli politicians from visiting the site. There’s always the hoary “cycle of violence” formula that holds nobody and everybody accountable at one and the same time.
Left out of most of these stories is some sense of what Palestinian leaders have to say. As in these nuggets from a speech Mr. Abbas gave last month: “Al Aqsa Mosque is ours. They [Jews] have no right to defile it with their filthy feet.” And: “We bless every drop of blood spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood, blood spilled for Allah.”
Then there is the goading of the Muslim clergy. “Brothers, this is why we recall today what Allah did to the Jews,” one Gaza imam said Friday in a recorded address, translated by the invaluable Middle East Media Research Institute, or Memri. “Today, we realize why the Jews build walls. They do not do this to stop missiles but to prevent the slitting of their throats.”
Then, brandishing a six-inch knife, he added: “My brother in the West Bank: Stab!”
Imagine if a white minister in, say, South Carolina preached this way about African Americans, knife and all: Would the news media be supine in reporting it? Would we get “both sides” journalism of the kind that is pro forma when it comes to Israelis and Palestinians, with lengthy pieces explaining—and implicitly justifying—the minister’s sundry grievances, his sense that his country has been stolen from him?
And would this be supplemented by the usual fake math of moral opprobrium, which is the stock-in-trade of reporters covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? In the Middle East version, a higher Palestinian death toll suggests greater Israeli culpability. (Perhaps Israeli paramedics should stop treating stabbing victims to help even the score.) In a U.S. version, should the higher incidence of black-on-white crime be cited to “balance” stories about white supremacists?
Didn’t think so.
Treatises have been written about the media’s mind-set when it comes to telling the story of Israel. We’ll leave that aside for now. The significant question is why so many Palestinians have been seized by their present blood lust—by a communal psychosis in which plunging knives into the necks of Jewish women, children, soldiers and civilians is seen as a religious and patriotic duty, a moral fulfillment. Despair at the state of the peace process, or the economy? Please. It’s time to stop furnishing Palestinians with the excuses they barely bother making for themselves.
Above all, it’s time to give hatred its due. We understand its explanatory power when it comes to American slavery, or the Holocaust. We understand it especially when it is the hatred of the powerful against the weak. Yet we fail to see it when the hatred disturbs comforting fictions about all people being basically good, or wanting the same things for their children, or being capable of empathy.
Today in Israel, Palestinians are in the midst of a campaign to knife Jews to death, one at a time. This is psychotic. It is evil. To call it anything less is to serve as an apologist, and an accomplice.