Murder of Teens Betrays Permanent Future of Despair for Israel
Why is the reaction to the kidnapping and killing of three young men so overwhelming? After all, we’ve witnessed much worse Palestinian war crimes before. The calculation of relative inhumanity is inherently silly, but surely the slaughter of dozens of children at a disco or passengers on a bus or elderly at a Passover table is worse? Or the murder of an entire family, including infants? As terrible as it sounds, the killing of the three boys is far from a new record of Palestinian cruelty and barbarism.
It seems to me that the real reason behind the despair which is so palpable today is that many of us – Left AND Right alike – have this optimistic notion of the nature of the conflict with the Arabs, which goes like this: “Surely those people are like us, and in the end, they can be made to see the error of their ways. If only we hit them hard enough once, if only we prove to them beyond any doubt that they cannot defeat us or undermine our will to live, they will chose to stop their senseless violence. Surely it cannot be that when they say that they love death as much as we love life, they can’t really mean it. After all, we KNOW them. We deal with them. We meet them. They are rational people. Faced with death and ruin, surely they will chose peace in some form instead of more pointless bloodshed.”
That is a tempting notion and is one that the Western mentality is quick to embrace. Palestinian terrorism is not unique. Terrorists have sprouted in Spain, in Ireland, in Germany, and in many other places. Some of them were defeated by force, and when they saw the society turn their backs on them, they lost heart. Some were hit hard first, brought into a political process later. Almost all of them ENDED.
The hope that the Palestinian drive for Jewish blood isn’t any different from other politically motivated violent pursuits in human history has led us to believe that Palestinians have finally absorbed the lessons of the last decade, that they recognize the futility of “resistance” and that they have submitted to the principle of peaceful resolution of the conflict at the negotiating table. The triple murder of the boys shatters this belief. It – and all the elements surrounding it, from the Kidnapper’s Guidebook, written by a terrorist sentenced to 36 life terms in jail, which was freely sent out by him from an Israeli prison to become a Hamas bestseller, to the tens of thousands who turned out to celebrate “three new Shalits” in Gaza and Ramallah and on Facebook and Instagram – tore the veil of hope from our eyes and forced us to face, again, the implacable truth.
The truth is that Palestinians do not murder Jews to advance any political goal the achievement of which will entice them to stop murdering Jews. For many interlocking reasons, the war on Jews has become a pillar of Palestinian identity. The “terrorism of individuals,” like those who butchered the Fogel family, the rockets from Gaza, the puzzling inability of the Palestinian Authority to stop itself from paying salaries to jailed child-killers (more dead Jews = more money) and glorifying the “martyrs” with every means at its disposal – all those are symptoms of this disease. Whatever the territorial arrangements, this war in some form, at some level of intensity, will go on forever. Put simply, they kill us, because they can’t NOT kill us, just like the scorpion from the tale couldn’t restrain itself from stinging the frog, even if this meant his doom in the river. It doesn’t mean that all Palestinians are merciless killers. Many Palestinians are truly sorry today. The scorpion was sorry, too.
Facing this cold and gruesome reality, we cannot fail to understand that the future we can expect consists of periodical campaigns to “restore deterrence” (to force the other side into temporary submission) – and this is the best future we can hope for. Treaties can be signed and borders drawn, and the Palestinian quest to rid Palestine of Jews will continue in a different form. There will be no “peaceful coexistence,” no substitution of the World War for World Cup, no “joining forces against a common enemy” – not for them, not for us.
And so we despair.