Israel Faces a Culture of Hatred and Violence

Atrocity shows the threats Israel faces.

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The grisly trail of broken toys and bloodied bedclothes and carpets inside the family home led to the bodies. They lay in their own blood, all knifed to death: Ruth Fogel, the 35-year-old mother; Udi, 36, the father; their 11-year-old son, Yoav; their 4-year-old son, Elad; and Hadas, their baby.

Hadas was just three months old. Her throat had been cut by the terrorist butchers who this month broke into the Fogel home in Itamar on a remote hilltop settlement in the West Bank. Yoav was killed as he read in bed.

Their every name should be remembered. They died because they were Jews. They were victims not just of the butchers, whose foul crimes Hamas celebrated in Gaza by giving out candy to children. They were also victims of the incitements to kill a Jew that the people of Israel have to live with every day, so many of them with memories of mothers and fathers and grandmothers and grandfathers who perished in Nazi death camps.

The circumstances are different, but the poison is the same.

Professor Fouad Ajami, one of the great scholars of the Middle East, put it as follows after an earlier massacre: "The suicide bomber of the Passover massacre did not descend from the sky; he walked straight out of the culture of incitement let loose on the land, a menace hovering over Israel, a great Palestinian and Arab refusal to let that country be, to cede it a place among the nations. He partook of the culture all around him—the glee [that] greets those brutal deeds of terror, the cult that rises around the martyrs and their families."

This is a culture where sermons legitimize violence in the name of Islam and have shaped generations of Arabs with what writer Eli Hertz calls "a steady diet of poison-filled propaganda." Hertz writes: "For non-Arabic speakers, it is hard to grasp just how pervasive the propaganda is in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority and throughout the Arab world. It is omnipresent: in state-controlled media outlets, in schools and mosques, at rallies, in speeches and articles." Professor Bernard Lewis, the great academic authority on Islam, has said that if the West knew what was being said in Arabic, people would be horrified.

How else to explain why Arab maps of Israel show no such country? How else to explain why a Palestinian father would celebrate his toddler's first birthday by dressing him up with a fake suicide bomb? By the second grade, students are taught the concept of jihad, or holy struggle, and by the sixth grade, their school lessons encourage them to become a shahid, or martyr. Most Western media would rather not contemplate such evidence of ingrained hostility. For instance: Hamas, identified by the United States as a terrorist organization, was quick to celebrate the Fogel killings. The Palestinian leader who commands the most respect in the civilized world, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, clearly and firmly denounced the Itamar murders as a "terror attack." But CNN and the BBC could not bring themselves to call the Itamar murders a terrorist attack. They regularly drink the Kool-Aid of the line purveyed by Palestinian apologists that such murders are "a natural response to the harm settlers inflict on the Palestinian residents in the West Bank."

Is it natural to slit the throats of children in their beds? Only if you assume an absence of expectations from the Palestinians and a willingness to whitewash everything they may do instead of holding them to some level of moral accountability. By contrast, no nation has been held to standards of moral accountability regardless of its security or been subject to such ceaseless international pressure as Israel.

Most of the hostility comes from people who have no concept of what it is like to live as Israelis do. The Western media's portrayal of the murdered innocent as somehow the cause of their deaths is paralleled by suggestions that rape victims "asked for it." Nothing justifies these murders.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, we are told, seems lost in the middle of the Arab revolution, unable or unwilling to recognize the changing circumstances in which he finds himself. Changing circumstances? Any assessment of the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate must take into account not only all the previous dialogues and the previous crimes, like the murder of the Ames couple and two others on the eve of the September 2010 peace talks in Washington, but also the severely different security vulnerabilities that have emerged in the region.