Did you hear about the two policemen who stopped to help a driver stuck with a flat—and were shot to death in the head at point-blank range?
Did you know about the 120-kilogram bomb planted in a parking lot adjacent to a shopping mall where thousands of people were milling about the stores, restaurants, and movie theaters?
No, of course, you didn't. These are just two everyday incidents of the ordeal confronted by people in Israel while the world and the political leaders look away. Outrages like these do not make it into the Western media, which exhibit the familiar phenomenon of monitoring only the conflicts that are the flavor of the month. And when they do turn to Israel, sporadically, it is with the excitement of thinking they can expose Israeli wrongdoing: The New York Times just drummed up a front-page story alleging the deliberate murder of innocent civilians by Israeli soldiers during the Gaza war, a poorly investigated report that turned out to be yet another urban myth and then was shamefully corrected by the Times only on the inside pages and only by blaming Israel for the false report. (Remember another urban myth alleging thousands of citizens massacred in the battle against terrorism in Jenin in 2002 when it turned out no more than 54 died, most of them combatants?)
Ordinary Israelis despair of the cruel bias. The policemen died because Israel eased restrictions on movement in the Nablus area of the West Bank. Hundreds survived in the attack on the mall near Haifa only because a woman reported hearing an explosion. Security found it was a detonator that expired without setting off a car bomb that would have lacerated the crowds with sharp metal and ball bearings.
The willingness to give a free pass to terrorism was, of course, manifest most luridly in the Gaza war. Hamas fired thousands of rockets with the short-term aim of murdering as many innocent civilians as possible in the service of the longer-term ambition to terrorize Israel.
Then, when Israel finally responded (with military restraint and humanitarian aid), it was faced with world demands for an unconditional cease-fire. Ironically, the fiercest criticism in the Arab world about Israel's conduct in Gaza stems from Israel's failure to achieve a decisive victory, for the Arab world rightly perceives not Israel but Hamas as a threat: It knows full well that Hamas is a fifth column for Iranian influence.
Once the cease-fire was achieved, the world lost interest in Israel. Except that now, in a fit of selectively lethal amnesia, it is on the verge of providing the selfsame murderous Hamas with a huge influx of funding that will rebuild the authority of a terrorist organization dedicated to killing Jews.
The tragedy for the Palestinians as much as the Israelis is that they do not have leadership strong enough to make peace. Hamas wants perpetual war: No one can doubt that it aims not to have a two-state solution but to have a "no state" solution—that is, to have the State of Israel stop existing. For its part, "moderate" Fatah is hopelessly corrupt and weak and seemingly incapable of reform or of enforcing law and order on its people. That is why an Israeli-Palestinian peace remains a dream today and why what Israel can offer the Palestinians is less than what any Palestinian politician is willing or able to attempt.
Even the language of peace is eroding. The Palestinians say they support two states for two peoples but refrain from saying that one of those is the Jewish people. Most recently, a major Palestine Liberation Organization figure, Mohammed Dahlan, asserted that the Fatah movement hasn't even recognized Israel thus far and that the Palestinian Authority's apparent "recognition" of Israel is to make the PA "acceptable" to the international community, in order to bring in international aid. Who can trust that?
There is justification for the widespread Israeli concern that if a Palestinian state were established, power in Gaza, and then in the West Bank, would soon fall into the hands of Hamas. After all, Hamas won 44 percent of the vote and the mayoralty in several major cities in the last West Bank election. Another unreported fact that reflects on what would happen if Hamas won: The most credible of the Palestinian-run news operations, the Ma'an News Agency, has posted three listings involving a total of 181 persons—all Fatah people—shot by Hamas in Gaza since December 2008.