The reaction of most of the civilized world to the terror attack in Jerusalem last week was sheer horror. No wonder. Unlike most such atrocities in the past, this one occurred on a street where some of the massive international media presence in Israel's capital is located. Thus, unlike most instances of terrorism, the cold-blooded nature of the Palestinian murderer who used a bulldozer to kill three people in cold blood and injure dozens of others was captured on film.
But along with pro forma condemnations of the murders, many in the media were quick to try to place the event in context. Unfortunately, the context they provided was largely incorrect.
For many media outlets, the operative question was what led Hussam Taysir Dwayat to take a bulldozer and crush as many people he could on a busy street. Their answers mentioned a failed romance with a Jewish woman and a fine he had been assessed for illegal construction work.
But whether or not either of these factors played a role in motivating the killer, the context that was most often provided was a media perennial: the "Israeli occupation."
In The Philadelphia Inquirer, an Associated Press report noted that the murderer was a Jerusalem resident, and thus unlike "West Bank Palestinians, Arab residents of Jerusalem have full freedom to work and travel throughout Israel." The implication here is that rage and frustration at the mistreatment of his fellow Palestinians may have led Dwayat to use a piece of construction equipment to murder and maim a random sample of Israeli Jews.
The New York Times chimed in by reminding its readers that bulldozers built by the Caterpillar company have become symbolic to Palestinians because the Israeli government has used them to construct Jewish communities in the territories and to demolish Arab homes. This has, the Times said, led "human rights activists" to lobby for the company to stop selling their equipment to Israel.
Yet the truth is that the people making this plea are extremists who have no interest in the rights of Israelis or Jews, and who seem to think that the Palestinians have a right to kill as many people as they want in pursuit of their efforts to destroy the Jewish state.
That aside, the implication of this passage seems to be that — however horrifying the crime might have been — there was some poetic justice in a Palestinian Arab using one of those same machines to slaughter Jews.
But lacking in virtually all of the stories about the incident in the Western press is a factor far more germane to the question. Why, despite Israeli concessions and withdrawals in pursuit of peace, do the Palestinians persist in their support for terrorism? A more cogent answer is the campaign of incitement against Jews and Israelis that has been a staple of both the Palestinian media and their education system.
That is the real context for this crime, as well as the ongoing missile and mortar attacks on southern Israel that continue, despite a shaky cease-fire with Hamas. Why else would the leading Palestinian groups, such as the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade — which is part of the Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas — praise the Jerusalem bulldozer massacre?
A century of Arab rejectionism has created a situation where support for anti-Israel terror is part of the mainstream of Palestinian political and social culture, trumping their desire for an independent state and a better life. Indeed, both have been sacrificed in order to pursue war against Israel.
As long as such attitudes are promoted by Palestinian leaders and educators, it is likely that the search for peace will continue to be flattened by the engine of hatred that they have spawned.