Last Monday marked the twentieth anniversary of the gruesome murder of two Israeli soldiers who took a fateful wrong turn and found themselves in the Palestinian city of Ramallah. Thanks to the presence of an Italian television crew at the scene, the incident was captured on video, and the image of one of the perpetrators victoriously displaying his bloodstained hands to a cheering crowd is, as Nave Dromi puts it, “seared into the minds of all Israelis over thirty years old.” In Dromi’s evaluation, the killings—which came two weeks after the riots that began the second intifada—convinced a great number of his countrymen that, for many Palestinians, the “lust for Israeli blood was greater than [their] desire for statehood.”
When foreign commentators attempt to understand why Israelis have become consistently more hawkish in the years since, few understand the role of that image, and others, like the Passover massacre of 30 Israelis enjoying a holiday meal in a Netanya hotel in 2002, on our psyche. We were told that Palestinians, like us, want and desire peace. . . . If we just offered enough then there would be peace and an end to the conflict.
These are all myths that were cruelly shattered that day. . . . Even those who decided to make concessions in the future, like Ariel Sharon, would no longer predicate them on a belief that there is a partner for peace.
You cannot reason with people who delight in the shedding of your blood. The candies offered after every deadly suicide attack, and the Palestinian Authority’s ongoing obsession by the PA in incentivizing the shedding of Israeli blood through its “pay-for-slay” program, repeat this lesson in case we dare forget it.