On Facebook, I linked to Bret Stephens’ article about the slaughter of the Fogel family in Israel (which is behind a pay wall). In it, Stephens says that we in the West have essentially dehumanized the Palestinians by giving them a free pass for acting on their baser instincts:
I have a feeling that years from now Palestinians will look back and wonder: How did we allow ourselves to become that? If and when that happens—though not until that happens—Palestinians and Israelis will at long last be able to live alongside each other in genuine peace and security.
But I also wonder whether a similar question will ever occur to the Palestinian movement’s legion of fellow travelers in the West. To wit, how did they become so infatuated with a cause that they were willing to ignore its crimes—or, if not quite ignore them, treat them as no more than a function of the supposedly infinitely greater crime of Israeli occupation?
That’s an important question because it forms part of the same pattern in which significant segments of Western opinion cheered Ho Chi Minh and Fidel Castro and Robert Mugabe and even Pol Pot. The cheering lasted just as long as was required to see the cause through to some iconic moment of triumph, and then it was on to the next struggle. It was left to others to pick up the pieces or take to the boats or die choking in their own blood.
A friend objected to the article on the ground that it made the Palestinians sound murderous, since “some” of them celebrated the death. She said the vast majority of Palestinians just desire peace. I responded that one wishes that was so, and pointed to polls from just last year showing that the majority of Palestinians think Jewish deaths are a good thing. Her comeback, which I’ve edited slightly, went this way: The majority of Palestinians weren’t celebrating the murders, only some were. Also, the same poll to which I cited shows that most of the Palestinians oppose violence, but are so frightened of the PA that they feel they cannot criticize it. She also said a more recent poll said that, while a clear majority of Israelis polled say they want peace, the Palestinians are so misinformed that, when polled, they say that they don’t believe that the Israelis actually want peace.
So if I understand it correctly, she’s saying that Palestinians are lying to pollsters about wanting to kill Israelis because they’re afraid of the PA. The illogic seems to be to be that, if they’re that scared of the PA, why are they freely admitting that fear to the pollsters? Either you lie across the board (hate Israelis/love PA), or you don’t lie (want peace/fear PA). As to the Palestinians’ misunderstandings about Israeli goals, it still doesn’t seem to me to deny their blood-thirstiness. It just gives them yet another excuse, which is precisely what Stephens was bemoaning.
What do you say? And can you think of a polite way for me to make the points or, perhaps, even better points.