So, the JTA thinks it is a stupid suggestion (from James Taranto in the Wall Street Journal) that the "accidental killing" of American activist Rachel Corrie by an Israeli bulldozer in March 2003 may have given the Palestinian who perpetrated Wednesday’s attack in Jerusalem the idea for turning his vehicle into a deadly weapon.
The JTA has a point. It is impossible to know what goes through the mind of a murderer as he embarks upon his murders, so it is sheer speculation to suggest Wednesday's killer might have been influenced by the Corrie "accident".
Besides, if he was influenced by a specific prior incident, why would it have to be the Corrie case that affected him? With all that the Palestinians go through under Israeli occupation, how self-centred do we have to be to think it was specifically the case of an American victim that influenced him? If he really was motivated to murder by the example of Israel's own use of bulldozers to murder its opponents, wouldn't it be more likely for him to be influenced by cases involving fellow Palestinians, like Jamal Fayed:
Jamal Fayed, 38 and severely disabled, was killed on 11 April  when the bulldozing of his home caused a wall to collapse on him. The family had shown the soldiers preparing to demolish the house Jamal Fayed's ID to prove that he was paralysed and could not get out of the home without their help. The soldiers refused to help and soon after a bulldozer approached the house. The family yelled at the driver to stop. He did not, and Jamal Fayed, still trapped inside the house, was killed. (Amnesty International)
Or by the case of the al-Shabi family, ages ranging from 4 to 85 years, who were crushed to death when an Israeli soldier demolished their house on top of them:
During Operation Defensive Shield extensive house destruction took place, especially in Nablus and Jenin. In both Nablus and Jenin the IDF reportedly bulldozed some houses while residents were still inside; at the same time they blocked medical and humanitarian aid coming to help those injured or buried under the rubble of houses.
In Nablus the IDF surrounded the Qasbah area (the old city) on 1 April  and imposed a strict curfew, shooting at anyone who left their homes. During the curfew Amnesty International spoke to residents of the Qasbah who spoke of a dead body rotting in the street as the IDF shot at anyone who left any house. Some houses were destroyed; one was a house in the old city which was bulldozed down on top of its occupants on 5 April. Mahmud Umar al-Shabi discovered the demolished house of his family only a week later, on 12 April, when the curfew was at last lifted for two hours. He began to dig in the rubble with the help of friends and neighbours; he was fired on several times for breaking the curfew and it began to rain. Late at night the rescuers found a small opening to the ground floor of the house and discovered, alive, Mahmud al-Shabis uncle, Abdallah al-Shabi, 68, and Shamsa al-Shabi, 67, his wife (crippled from before the intifada). At 1.30am they found the eight other members of the family, all dead, huddled in a circle in a small room: Mahmud al-Shabis father, Umar, 85; his sister Fatima, 57; his cousin Abir, 38; his cousin Samir, 48; Samirs 7-months pregnant wife, Nabila, 40; and their three children, Abdullah, 9; Azzam, 7; and Anas, 4. (Amnesty International)
Since the outbreak of the second Intifada posters of Palestinian martyrs are common on the walls of Palestinian towns. In Nablus, there is one poster, showing the names and faces of eight members of the Shubi family, that people stop to look at. (Photo: Arjan El Fassed, for ei)
Or by the case of 16-year-old Mahmud Kayed, whose head was crushed (photo, very graphic) by an Israeli bulldozer that was tearing up Palestinian farmland in the Gaza Strip.
Or by the death of 75-year-old Ibrahim Mahmoud Khalafallah, who was crushed to death when an army bulldozer demolished his Khan Yunis house on top of him, even though his wife, Eida, had warned the soldiers that her husband was wheelchair-bound and would not be able to get out of the house by himself? [Footnote]
So the JTA is correct that is probably foolish (and, I would add, extremely Amero-centric) to suggest that Rachel Corrie's death was influential on Wednesday's horrible murders. There are hundreds of other cases of bulldozer-related death, injury and ethnically-motivated home demolition over the last eight years, any or all of which might have mattered more to this particular murderer than the Rachel Corrie case. (Including those cases I cited above, which resulted in the murder of Palestinian civilians, whose deaths deserved - but naturally, never got - every bit as much outrage and sympathy as is rightly afforded Wednesday's Israeli victims, and whose Israeli murderers deserved - but naturally, never got - every bit as much opprobrium and condemnation as is rightly heaped upon the head of Wednesday's Palestinian murderer).
Perhaps that's what the JTA is trying to suggest. Otherwise, the JTA's casual dismissal of the suggestion that the manner of Wednesday's killings might in any way be a reflection of the almost iconic role that Israeli bulldozers have played in the Occupation of the Palestinian Territories over the past eight years, seems a little bit glib. It makes it sound as if the JTA actually believes that when a Palestinian kills Israelis with a bulldozer, it is a context-free random act of murder; that when an Israeli kills an American with a bulldozer, it is "accidental"; and that when Israelis repeatedly kill Palestinian civilians with bulldozers ... well, that simply doesn't happen.
Footnote: Journalist Gideon Levy wrote about the killing of Ibrahim Khalafallah by the IDF, an event that was barely reported in Israel, and asked his Israeli readership to imagine how different the coverage would have been if the perpetrators were Palestinian, and the victim Israeli:
What would happen if a Palestinian terrorist were to detonate a bomb at the entrance to an apartment building in Israel and cause the death of an elderly man in a wheelchair, who would later be found buried under the rubble of the building? The country would be profoundly shocked. Everyone would talk about the sickening cruelty of the act and its perpetrators. The shock would be even greater if it then turned out that the dead man’s wife had tried to dissuade the terrorist from blowing up the house, telling him that there were people inside, but to no avail. The tabloids would come out with the usual screaming headline: “Buried alive in his wheelchair.” The terrorists would be branded “animals.”
Last Monday, Israel Defense Forces bulldozers in Khan Yunis, in the Gaza Strip, demolished the home of Ibrahim Halfalla, a 75-year-old disabled man and father of seven, and buried him alive. Umm-Basel, his wife, says she tried to stop the driver of the heavy machine by shouting, but he paid her no heed. The IDF termed the act “a mistake that shouldn’t have happened,” and the incident was noted in passing in Israel. The country’s largest-circulation paper, Yedioth Ahronoth, didn’t bother to run the story at all. The blood libel in France – a woman’s tale of being subjected to an anti-Semitic attack, which later turned out to be fiction – proved a great deal more upsetting to people. There we thought the assault was aimed against our people. But when the IDF bulldozes a disabled Palestinian to death? Not a story. Just like the killing, under the rubble of her home, of Noha Maqadama, a woman in her ninth month of pregnancy, before the eyes of her husband and children, in El Boureij refugee camp a few months earlier...
If it were the reverse; Ha'aretz, 18 July 2004.