Let’s see, here is how it goes: a murder is committed in an Arab town in Area B of the Palestinian Authority: a family home is ignited while they are they’re sleeping. Some Hebrew writing on the wall makes it clear (to some) that this was the act of a Jewish terrorist. Great! Blow the horns, beat the drums! Cameras rolling . . . tragedy and pain, blame and anger. THE JEWS DID IT! But wait! Just because there is Hebrew writing on the wall?

Well, nobody waits. The Jews publicly wring their hands in despair – on TV, in the newspapers, on the Internet . . . Israel’s leaders take to the stage and cry out to the world: MEA CULPA. Never mind that nobody has been arrested and that we do not yet have any hints from the police that a suspect is on the radar. Hebrew writing on the wall has to mean that a Jew did it. There! Mystery solved. Everyone likes a quick and satisfying ending to a crime. Who has the patience to wait till the facts become clear?

Blaming Israeli Jews is a really good policy. It eases the consciences of those who don’t like Jews, Israeli or otherwise, and gives them a rationale for their dislike. And if you ARE a Jew or worse, an Israeli Jew, then you can always blame the Israeli right. Then the arrows set off toward that Jewish target do not stick in place and, like fried eggs roll off a Teflon pan, those arrows find a home somewhere else. . . in your compatriot’s heart – you know, the one over there, just on your right. Look!

And when someone ON the right tries to turn down the volume of blame, asks for a bit of patience to wait until the police investigation sheds some light on what really happened, those on the left are ready to rebut. Without missing a beat, they gaggle: do you show no remorse? No responsibility? You are preoccupied with being defensive without connecting with the pain of the victim!!

And, they continue: remember the burning of the Church of Temptation? Remember the burning of the bilingual school? Remember Ami Popper? Remember Baruch Goldstein? Well, this newest crime is just a continuation of rightist hate mongering and incitement. And the hate I feel coming from the left is tangible. Like the stink in the air when you open a rotten egg.

Standing on the stages set up for our self-flagellation, both virtual and real, we express shame that a Jew could do something like this, even though we do not yet know if a Jew did. There is evidence that could point as easily to an Arab committing the crime and making it look as if it was a Jew. But never mind. Use this tragedy as another proof that the right is what is wrong with this country (sounds an awful lot like those who blame the Jews for what is wrong with the Middle East, the WORLD, in fact).

Isn’t it strange that those who accuse the right of incitement of hate and murder seem to me to be inciting hate? I wonder if the first murder of a Jew by a leftist is inconceivable. I wonder.

NOW, let’s change the tone a bit. What if? Just what if, the self-flagellation has a purpose and the purpose is actually a positive one? What if all this mea culpa stuff is a way to prevent another intifada? If we all accept blame, blame worthy or not, and publicly announce our shame, can that dull the almost inevitable revenge plans before they are even conceived, before they can hatch? It seems so, because the acts of vengeance that did come were muted compared to what we might otherwise have expected. Are our leaders, right and left, now breathing a sigh of relief together in the back rooms? Are they congratulating each other for having deflected an almost certain uprising against us of incalculable dimensions?

I hope that’s what it was. But where does that leave the rank and file Israelis on the left and on the right? It leaves us all battle wounded in a kind of civil war that seems to be picking up speed and strength every day.