For Israel and her allies it seems that panic mode is on, and Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens, who somehow manages to pass himself for a psychologist in his latest column, is freaking out.
His article “Palestine: The Psychotic Stage” bears the subtitle, “The truth about why Palestinians have been seized by their present blood lust.” In typical desperate fashion of the pro-occupation ilk, Stephens manipulates the tragic deaths of Israelis reported over the past two weeks. Meanwhile, he conveniently pretends that Palestinians are immortal. They don’t die. Hence, not one mention of a Palestinian death is worth his words — never mind that one of the world’s strongest armed forces is flexing its muscles against them. The issue is not so much with reporting on who died. Stephens’ dangerous propagation in this regard is that a Jewish death is a tragic one and worth reporting, while a Palestinian death is just not worth it because a Palestinian is a psychotic blood thirsty terrorist. Stephens writes:
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.
Stephens sets the stage with Israeli deaths, he moves on to point the causes of this “Palestinian blood fetish”: President Abbas “declared the Oslo Accords null and void,” which is a lie. President Abbas simply said that “as long as” Israel behaves in a manner contrary to the Accords, then Palestinians cannot be bound by them. Instead of reassuring the world of its commitment to the peace agreements, Israel jumped on the opportunity to betray Abbas as an anti-peace leader, opening the floodgates of Israeli aggression against Palestinians.
The inescapable irony is that Stephens’ understanding of what caused the surge in hostilities is incitement, leading to “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,” fueled by “the goading of the Muslim clergy. ‘Brothers, this is why we recall today what Allah did to the Jews…Today, we realize why the Jews build walls. They do not do this to stop missiles but to prevent the slitting of their throats…My brother in the West Bank: Stab!”’
He probably did not get the memo that Israeli officials, rabbis, and settlers call Palestinians snakes, inferior gentiles and sons of bitches among other hateful slurs. Not only do these figures make these remarks, they in fact repeatedly encouraged their communities to act upon them. Hence, the price-tag attacks. Worst yet, once such hate and racism come to light through vandalism or burning Palestinians to death, nearly next to no legal recourse against the perpetrators is pursued. And when “Israeli justice” is delivered, it simultaneously discriminates against Palestinians and appeases the perpetrators.
But, does any of it matter? Not really. Certainly not when Stephens is simply blowing a gasket and cannot possibly be engaged in a rational conversation anymore.
Disturbingly, Stephens’ propagation of the hate thesis leaves the question of how Israel is currently behaving untouched. The extra-judicial and cold-blooded killing of Palestinians does not seem to have any effect on how he would like to see Israel behave. Rather, he expects that it should only influence how Palestinians should behave — submit and welcome a status quo of oppression with open arms. It is then unsurprising that Stephens closes in such a polemical style without a practical alternative:
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.
Here lies the failure of Stephens at grasping the reality of the situation on the ground. He offers no alternative, which is a cowardly copout from stating the obvious: Israel is the occupier, period. Israel has oppressed an entire people for nearly seven decades now. And Stephens does not appear to have a problem with being an unapologetic accomplice. If anything, the current surge in hostility exposes the simple truth that the occupation as a way of life is not working. It will never work, and so it must come to an end.