Friday, January 20, 2012

Israel a Genocidal Nation? Only Bigots Could Claim That

Norm Finkelstein: 'Israel is Ghengis Khan with a computer.' Nevermind that
the Mongol conquest was probably responsible for 40 million deaths.

I am indebted to Huffington Post Monitor for bringing to attention an extraordinary series of articles by Douglas Anthony Cooper published by, extraordinarily, The Huffington Post, home to genocidally-minded anti-Israelites whose comments on any article related to Israel can make your hair stand on end. And I'm not even talking about official HP bloggers. The series addresses the question 'Is Israel a Genocidal Nation?' He works with the numbers, suggests reasons why some (Norman Finkelstein, etc.) want you to think so and arrives at the only sensible conclusion: No! This should, but we know it won't, stop the spread (even into the mainstream) of the libel constantly issued by Israel's accusers as well as innocent, but ignorant, bystanders. So, let me quote his numbers which he presents after contextualizing them vis-à-vis statistics from some actual genocides:

"THE TOTAL NUMBER of Israelis and Palestinians killed, in over half a century of conflict, is approximately 15,000. This includes all of the fatalities on both sides. The great majority of these have been armed enemy combatants.
"I urge you to check these numbers for yourself. They are academically sound -- we have nowhere near the uncertainty that we have regarding, for instance, Stalinist Russia. The Polynational War Memorialcalculates a total of 14,500, from 1948-2009. Add 272 casualties reported by B'Tselem (The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) to bring us from 2009 to the present: 14,772. You can round that up to 15,000.
"At the Memorial, the link to the Conflict Database at the University of Uppsala is broken: if you would like to go into the raw data -- and you should, if you have any doubts -- the dataset can be downloaded here. The various sources are examined in The PRIO Battle Deaths Dataset. For the most accurate figures from 1987 to the present, consult Statistics at B'Tselem.
"If you're concerned about sources -- and you should be -- B'Tselem's figures have been criticized as biased in favor of the Palestinian cause, and Uppsala University, the source for the rest of the data, is more likely to have an anti-Israel bias than not. Nevertheless, both groups strike me as decent, academically rigorous liberals, who care about the truth. If their sympathies were to distort data, it certainly would not be in Israel's favor.
So: 15,000. The number of civilian casualties, on both sides, is a fraction of this: You will find no credible source placing that number in the five figures.
"I shall also leave it to you to determine whether Israel targets civilians. Do your own research. Assume the very worst. You will be disappointed, but you will find allies. This is a good starting point: Targeting Toddlers, an article in the left-wing Village Voice.
"If 15,000 is the total for all lives lost, Palestinian and Israeli, armed and non-combatant, then the figure for unarmed civilian fatalities on the Palestinian side is what? You are welcome to try to whittle this figure down further. The truth is that you could devote your life to parsing this, and remain unsatisfied. The numbers are distorted by propagandists on both sides; they deal with ill-defined categories (what constitutes an armed combatant if there is no regular army?) All I can say with certainty is that the number of Palestinian non-combatants killed, since the founding of Israel, is in the four figures.
"This should not be trivialized: Whether it is 4,000 or 8,000, we are talking about thousands of human beings, each an innocent civilian, loved and mourned. The difference between 6,000 and 6,001 is, to that person's family, everything.
"What is beyond certain, however, is that this total is -- relative to the world's genocides and relative to the size of the populace -- astonishingly low. It is even surprisingly low relative to minor wars. For the likes of Norman Finkelstein in particular, it is scandalously low.
"If you consider Israel to have committed anything that looks remotely like genocide, you are embracing an ignorance that is inseparable from the most vulgar forms of prejudice. It is so patently counterfactual that you cannot even call it bad history: It is simply slander. While it may not be anti-Semitism, always -- not strictly speaking -- it shares more than a little with the notorious blood libel: It is a lie calculated to conjure the image of the murderous Jew."
To get the complexity of his argument, I urge you to read the entire series:
Part 1: Genghis Khan with a Computer here, Part 2: Murder by Numbers herePart 3: A Matter of Lies and Death here, and Part 4: Hatred Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry here.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for pointing out HuffPo monitor. I was banned 5x for pointing out straight up Nazi quotes and editorial allowed to be published until they finally just instituted a filter rule blocking my IP outright from creating a new account. As bad as they are though they're still not as bad as Salon.com

    ReplyDelete

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