Palestine: The Psychotic Stage
By Bret Stephens
Wall Street Journal
October 12, 2015
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
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
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.
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