Last week’s bulldozer rampage through central Jerusalem which left 3 dead (click here to see the BBC Video) has sparked a debate. It seems "obvious" to many that this was a terrorist attack — Arab steals bulldozer and kills a bunch of Jews.
However, even in Israel we can have people go crazy, just like happens in the US — equivalent to people who go crazy and shoot up a McDonald’s, a post office, or a college campus. Sounds to me like this episode is more likely the latter — a crazy guy — rather than a bona fide "terrorist" attack.
Motivation makes all the difference in deciding whether something is a terrorist attack or crazy person. When someone with a history of affiliation with terrorist groups like Hamas takes a gun and plans an attack on a yeshiva, that is clearly a terrorist episode. When someone with no history of affiliation with terrorist groups, who in fact has a history of positive relations with Jews (the attacker had a half-Jewish child) commits an attack out of the clear blue sky, it is quite possible that something else is going on.
We’ll never know. Only God knows what was in the heart and mind of that murderer with a bulldozer.
But we shouldn’t automatically assume that every time an Arab attacks a Jew it’s terrorism driven by nationalistic ideals.