How can anyone live in a society so pervaded by fear, hatred and intolerance that desperate people carrying guns, knives and meat cleavers can hurl themselves on utter strangers with furious, murderous intent? It sounds like a Hollywood horror film or some nightmare vision of a dystopian future.
But in fact that is what is happening today on the streets of Jerusalem and other Israeli cities, and the blood being shed is real. So far this month seven Israelis have been stabbed to death in about two dozen attacks by Palestinians, mostly armed with knives. In turn, police and civilians shot about a dozen Palestinian suspects at the scene, several of whom were still in their teens.
There's plenty of blame to go around for this latest wave of violence. Blame the Palestinian murderers whose anger and frustration over Israel's occupation of the West Bank offer not the slightest justification for their horrible acts. Blame the Israeli settlers who have been carrying out reprisal attacks against West Bank Palestinians for years, often with impunity. Their crimes, too, are inexcusable.
Blame the government of Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, whose intransigence and rejection of any step that might lead to a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict has diminished Israel's stature in the world and turned his country into something that increasingly resembles an apartheid state. And blame Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has cynically stoked his people's discontents with propaganda and lies in a transparently self-serving attempt to maintain his own dwindling hold on power.
Breaking the cycle of violence cannot be achieved through more violence. If the killing is to end, Israelis and Palestinians must negotiate an agreement to live in peace, side-by-side in two states with mutual respect. That's the only viable alternative to the chaos into which the country is descending, and it can't achieved while Palestinians and Israelis are trapped in an orgy of violence and bloodshed.