Let's indulge briefly in a hypothetical case history. Two-year-old Yihyeh Abu-Bakra is shot dead in Gaza. He's an incidental victim, classic collateral damage. A stray bullet ends his short sojourn on this earth, exceedingly prematurely. The Arab media - not unexpectedly and with suspect instantaneous certitude - proclaim that the fatal projectile was fired by Israelis. This assertion, albeit a tad too immediate, is accepted as gospel around the globe.
Photos of the martyred infant are dramatically splashed over every front page everywhere. What fodder these prove for post-colonial discourse! The free world's decent and upstanding citizens all know who deserves sympathy. They likewise know who aimed at the wee underdog.
The circumstances of the atrocity are incidental.
Unanimous revulsion is underscored by video footage, which foreign TV crews solicit from local Gazans. It's safer than entering the Palestinian fiefdom itself. A small outlay of cash buys fetching ratings-grabbers.
The fact that said tapes are in all likelihood also Arab propaganda productions bothers no one. In fact, the amplification of tendentious cant and deliberate disinformation potentially purchases some terrorist protection. The objective international media know which side needs to be feared and sweetened, and it's certainly not the liberal, tolerant and angst-ridden Israeli one.
Inevitably, tiny Yihyeh becomes another icon of Gaza's ongoing resistance against Israeli occupation (never mind that the last Israeli exited in 2005; the pretext for carnage and Kassam barrages is too enticing to forgo). In no time Yihyeh's fame rivals that of Muhammad al-Dura, who was said to have been cold-bloodedly assassinated by Israeli troops on September 30, 2000.
The visuals of him crouching near the Netzarim junction alongside his father as the lethal slug found its 12-year-old mark became best-sellers. Indeed, ever since, official Palestinian Authority TV hasn't ceased indoctrinating its littlest viewers, barely older than Yihyeh, with stirring reruns of Muhammad's last minutes, accompanied by emotive chants, rousing songs and poignant poetry exhorting other youngsters to go forth, espouse martyrdom, become suicide bombers and blow up Israeli kids to redeem Muhammad's blood.
Curiously, videos of the incident show no blood, not even a spatter, which was merely the first telltale hint of much amiss, leading more than one expert to deduce that this scene was ingeniously stage-managed. There were plenty more indications supporting suspicions of fraud.
It wouldn't be the first instance of brazen Palestinian fabrication, for instance the trumped-up yarns about a Jenin-massacre-that-never-was during Operation Defensive Shield.
One thing is beyond debate - even if Muhammad was killed, it couldn't possibly have been by an Israeli bullet. The trajectory was all wrong, considering where the Israelis were. But it was perfect from the position of Palestinian snipers.
NONE OF this prevented the summary and blanket blaming of Israel then, nor repetition of the scenario in Yihyeh's sequel. And so, once more Israel is tainted with the blood of innocents. Yihyeh's distraught mother stars, screaming hysterically and tearing her hair, on all TV channels, while the toddler's dad vows vengeance.
Israel is again - hardly unexpectedly - pilloried by the court of righteous opinion. The international community is aghast. More underage blood taints the hands of Jewish descendants of deicide-perpetrators and serial slaughterers of Christian tots for the purposes of ritual pastry preparation.
Condoleezza vigorously wags that schoolmarmy finger with particularly displeased dourness. Tony Blair solemnly reminds all and sundry - including his ethnic Pakistani electorate - that until Israel is coerced to risk yet additional existentially hazardous concessions, the world will know no peace.
Jacques Chirac pompously pontificates to all Frenchwomen and Frenchmen that those domineering and arrogant Jews (to borrow a phrase from Charles de Gaulle) continuously commit the unpardonable cardinal sin of extreme hubris by not bowing to directives from morally irreproachable and singularly omniscient Paris.
Even the hero of Chechnya, one Vladimir Putin, reprovingly lectures the Jewish state about its ruthless brutality. Needless to note, the UN Security Council convenes for the obligatory Israel-bashing session.
Israel is laden with shame. IDF top brass and otherwise hyperactive government mouthpieces hem and haw, yammer and stammer, own up to an unmeasured degree of culpability, pending a thorough, slow, lugubrious investigation.
Our in-house guardians of other folks' conscience - representing a plethora of platitude-spouting bleeding hearts from all left-of-political-center niches - mercilessly beat their fellow Israelis' breasts and boastfully broadcast embarrassment for their affiliation with this accursed collective. They thereby bask in the glowing limelight of the unstinted outpouring of enlightened universalist approval for post-Zionists raking their benighted compatriots over the coals.
So much for the hypothetical.
IT'S NOT really all strictly imaginary. Much rings familiar because we've been there, seen that. We've suffered the outrageous slings and arrows of sanctimonious indignation time and again. But most of all, this isn't entirely make-believe because toddler Yihyeh was truly shot dead in Gaza.
It happened just last weekend. Others died too. An 11-year-old was gunned down and, in all, the bloodbath claimed dozens of lives.
Only the outcry was missing. Yihyeh's untimely demise made no headlines. His mother's grief tugged no heartstrings. PATV didn't sanctify his sacrifice, and the world continues as it had smugly before. Not a ripple. Nothing out of place. No pandemonium. No commotion.
Why? Because there was no opportunity to claim that Israelis pulled the deadly trigger. Yihyeh fell victim to terrorist infighting.
We always realized the world retains incredible composure when Arabs deliberately target Jewish babies. We now learn that it's also unmoved when Arabs murder Arabs - even when the casualties include juvenile Gazans.
Bottom line: it's not who's slain but by whom. If Jews cannot be implicated, it doesn't matter.