There are suggestions in Israel that the kidnappers became frightened when they thought they were followed, and rather than use the boys for ransom, they decided to kill the only unfriendly witnesses, the kidnapped boys.
We weep as well for Mohammed Abu Khdeir, 16, the innocent victim of a revenge murder. We don't yet know exactly what happened, but we do know that three Jewish suspects have confessed and are in Israeli custody while the killers of the three Jewish boys are still at large.
The murders give rise again to "moral equivalence," a discarded phrase that first proclaimed that the ideological theories of East and West in the Cold War were of equal measure, that the totalitarianism of the Soviet Union, with its Iron Curtain, was as well-intentioned as the democracies of the West. The notion has long been discredited in the accounts of the Cold War, but in the Middle East, where the ink still runs blood red, defenders of the Hamas terrorists characterize the murders of the four teenagers as reflecting similar moral values.
Of course they don't. The murders are rooted in the evil that men do in any place, any time, in any century, when barbarism rises to the surface of the human imagination and galvanizes murderous instincts. The reaction to these brutal deeds, however, tells another story.
When the Palestinians got word that three Jewish boys had been kidnapped, unbridled excitement swept through the West Bank. They praised the kidnappers as heroes. Cheering Palestinian crowds raised the three-finger salute associated with the release of Gilad Shalit, the captured Israeli soldier who was exchanged in 2011 for more than 1,027 Arab prisoners. The Arab prisoners together were responsible for killing more than 500 Israelis. Many Israelis thought that such Israeli repatriation was foolish, giving incentives to future kidnappers, but they knew it showed the importance of a single life to the Jews. They demonstrated no anger at the government. Nobody rioted.