The news from Jerusalem of a mass school shooting, perpetrated by a Palestinian, throws into question the theory I developed a few weeks ago about cultural differences between Muslim terrorists and American mass killers. I had suggested that cultural factors somehow explained why Muslims preferred to blow themselves up, dying at the same moment as their victims, while Americans preferred to go down shooting, presumably getting some satisfaction from seeing their victims fall.
Now we have a Palestinian shooting his victims and going down shooting. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that the shooter had some kind of American roots, but I have to admit that it seems unlikely. Of course, until the authorities identified the shooter as a Palestinian, I was willing to assume that this was disgruntled Israeli-on-Israeli violence on the American model. Since this remains an exceptional act, to my knowledge, I'm not ready to concede that I'm wrong about cultural differences among killers in general. We need to know more about this guy and his affiliations. Did he belong to a fringe group that eschews the standard suicide tactics, or was he possibly a lone wolf, which would be more in line with the American model?
A detail that worries me is the fact that a gun-toting student is taking credit for taking out the shooter. This is the sort of propaganda that comes in the NRA's wildest dreams, and I'm sure they'll make the most of this whether the student's claims are authenticated or not. While I might acknowledge that conditions in Israel are such that a civilian might go about armed with more justification than any American, I'm pretty sure gun nuts won't appreciate the distinction. Apart from the deaths caused by today's shooters, the worst consequence of his rampage and its abrupt termination would be if the story made insane crossfires and augmented casualties on American campuses more likely.