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March 14, 2008

Daily roundup

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benjamin ady

ok, I'll bite.

Wright said "We have supported state sponsored terrorism against Palestinians", a statement with which Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jimmy Carter would apparently agree, along with Israeli pro-peace organization B'Tselem. We're not saying the Palestinians are getting it right, or that they haven't done terrible things. What we are pointing out is that Israeli Defense Forces, the official Israeli armed forces, have killed 5 times as many Palestinian civilians as vice versa, and they've done so often using U.S. built and U.S. supplied armaments and aircraft. So if that's not us supporting state sponsored terrorism, then what *would* constitute us supporting state sponsored terrorism? Anyone?

Jason Taylor

Benjamin, I distinctly remember someone saying to me:

"In some ways, I suppose, it must be ... pleasant and less difficult to have such a profoundly simple, clear view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

I am glad you can decide right and wrong based on numbers. It is such an obviously sophisticated method.

If you must know, the count is skewed. Suicide bombers, and Palestinians killed in internal strife are often counted. Palestinian casualties who are genuine civilians are generally hit by accident. As for Palestinian killed in combat with the IDF, that is kind of the idea of the thing, is it not?
Furthermore, there is no possible way to actually count casualties with any accuracy except by the difference between "present before", and "present after". As no one has to my knowledge taken an accurate census of the Palestinian region since Oslo, no casualty records can be trusted. Furthermore it is in the interest of the Palestinians to exaggerate the number of civilians among them killed.

Jason Taylor

If you must know, Benjamin, several studies indicate that the vast majority of Palestinian casualties are males between late teens and early twenties. Israeli casualties are skewed randomly.
And know, I don't know how they can tell that either except by going into the Palestinian area and questioning the people there so one might wonder. There are lies, darned lies, and statistics as the saying goes.
Be that as it may, that is something to consider.

benjamin ady


Ok. could you point to the a couple of the "several studies" you cite?

Jason Taylor



and in general


Jason Taylor

In any case, don't you think it odd that the contention that most of the casualties generated by an organized Western-syle millitary expedition are males between the late teens and early twenties is the one that evidence must be cited for?


So if you're looking at two killed Palestinian civilians, how do you determine which one was an innocent bystander and which was was actively attacking Israel?

Jason Taylor

You can't always tell if in fact there are two rather then one or three for reasons we won't explain in depth on this site as that will ruin your lunch but that any cop-show fanatic can understand. Fortunately that is easier on a modern battlefield because there is less mess about then there would have been in our grandfathers' days. Large fights have simply gotten more rare.
You can tell, if they haven't been too knocked about, their gender and age some degree of reliability. That indicates in turn whether they were likely to be participants, although in a counterinsurgency you can't count on that. A lot of partisans are underage, overage or female though most are, as with regular forces, young adult males.
An obvious clue is if he is armed. It is common among Moslems to own military grade small arms, at least in the wilder regions. However they would be unlikely to carry them just to go to the local coffeeshop as far as I know. But I could be wrong about that. It wasn't so long ago that boys took their hunting rifles to school so they could pop rabbits on the way home in America.
And of course if there is a battle nearby even the most innocent might want to have a weapon with him "just in case".
If the body has been plundered you cannot really tell.
Then too Palestinians often carried Molotovs, or just rocks. A Molatov at least is a good clue; a gun may be just for shooting off to celebrate a wedding, a Molotov probably isn't. On the other hand it could just be some foolish kid showing off his Molotov to his friends. On the other hand one of them will likly ,"double dog dare" him, to throw it at the Israelis. Once it is thrown, he may be weaponless, which puts another kink in the mixture.
So the answer to Matt's question is really that you can't tell for sure. You can tell that if the statistics show that the majority are young men and if the statistics are right, then that is a fair indication that they were killed in battle for the most part and that those that weren't fighting could plausibly be mistaken for those that were.

benjamin ady


Even if we were to hypothetically acknowledge that, as the eretzisrael site claims, the casualty numbers are somewhat skewed, and ... perhaps, for instance, the number of non-combatant deaths is relatively even (and I guess we could argue this. I mean the eretzisrael site by it's very name has got to be slanted pro-israeli),

Surely you have to acknowledge that ... overall the .... how shall we put it ... the "lifestyle" of a typical Palestinian and a typical Jew in Palestine are altogether different things, and the typical Jew has by far the better end of the deal?

I mean not that anybody seems to have any workable solutions. But it seems increasingly clear to me, after all these years, that further bloodshed, war, and violence isn't moving us in the direction of that solution.

I mean isn't it arguable from some POV that a far richer, more powerful nation has *more* of an obligation to prevent civilian deaths than a far weaker, more impoverished nation?

Something about how to be great in God's kingdom.

Jason Taylor

Benjamin, I did not site just the Ersatz Israel site but a whole list of sites, and I never said it is not biased. But fair play demands you listen to both.
As for your other points, the lifestyle of a typical Tartar was far worse then that of a typical Palestinian. But that does not incline my sympathy to Genghis Khan. And in any case are you prepared to have that standard applied to yourself? Your lifestyle is far better then that of the typical mugger you know.
And as for it being more arguable that a "richer, more powerful nation has more of an obligation to prevent civilian deaths", the proper reply is simply "Why?" Right and wrong are not determined by wealth. And in any case the point of war is to apply power, so condemning the side that is more powerful is just odd.
Furthermore the Palestine as a nation has no existance outside of it's opposition to Israel's existance. A nation whose only characteristic unique to itself is it's hatred does not fit the minumum required for civilization and is unworthy of such sympathy as is given to it. Mercy without justice is not mercy, it is injustice.
And whether or not the Israelis should be more chivalrous then the Palestinians because they are richer, and whether or not their "lifestyle" is better then a typical Jews is irrelevant. You distinctly used the words,"terrorist state." Which is far different from justified criticism. And it displays lot of Chutzpah(if you will forgive such an Israeli word), in one who is decrying MY "simplistic" beliefs, which are derived from studying history for years and not from merely reciting an old propaganda cliche.

benjamin ady


I wanted to say sorry for accusing you a while ago of having an un-nuanced view of the israeli-palestinian conflict. It was uncalled for--I had hardly listened to you long enough to reach such a conclusion. I was wrong *and* unkind. I'm sorry.

Jason Taylor

Thank you, that is what I wanted. I am sorry for being angry.

Jason Taylor

Oh, and Benjamin on a more congenial level, if you wish for my opinion on what caused the wars originally, I would say the best answer is The Law of Unintended Consequenses.
The picture of the early zionists as plunderers is wrong. With due allowence for human weakness, the Zionist leadership strained themselves far more to avoid doing injustice to the local Arabs then most would have in a similar position.
However the effect they had is analogous to "Wal-mart coming to town". Wal-mart has a poor reputation largly because of the disruption of small town life. Yet it doesn't seek to disrupt it-it causes disruption by it's presence. The overall standard of living is often increased. But this is often at the cost of individual small businessmen who cannot adapt.
This analogy describes the Zionist settlement. They were well funded and well organized and created a whole new economy in the area out of the dust(sometimes literal dust). The sum total of the region's prosperity was greater, but many were accidently displaced. And in any case, being poor when others nearby are rich reminds you that you are poor. From this foundation as it were, greivance built on greivance. Not nice but human.

benjamin ady

"The picture of the early zionists as plunderers is wrong. With due allowence for human weakness, the Zionist leadership strained themselves far more to avoid doing injustice to the local Arabs then most would have in a similar position."

This makes sense to me.

But isn't part of the problem that none of the powers that be, who, as I understand it, basically supported the idea of a Jewish homeland in Palestine (reference the Balfour declaration and the Wiezmann-Faisal agreement), so much as asked the Palestinians for their opinion?

I mean weren't the local people largely ignored in the decision, largely made by outsiders, to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine? That sort of seems like a recipe for disaster.

I kind of wish Herzl's original idea of a Jewish homeland in the American West had been implemented. I think it would be kind of kewl to have a state of Israel on the West Coast. Like in Oregon =) (I smile because I live in Seattle, so I can sort of give away Oregon)

Jason Taylor

As far as that goes, it is hard to imagine a Jewish National Home in Alaska being popular. Palestine had an emotional attraction which would make any substitute seem unsatisfactory.
But the Balfour Declaration was a promise of land that was under the political control of the Turks who were at war with Britain at the time. The British paid the chief price for any Arab independance at all and were demanding a small say in the dividing of the spoils. Interestingly the Turks don't feel a grudge as it is their government's policy never to complain about Vae Victas. The reason for that is that two can play at that game which would be uncomfortable given Turkish history.
At the time the Balfour Declaration was made the world was slowly evolving from the old ethic whereby governments traded provinces like monopoly cards. The locals weren't consulted about their own political destiny but they hadn't had a political destiny of their own for ages. They had been ruled by Turks not Arabs. Their private property was respected by the Mandate(which is more then the Ottomans would have done, probably), and some effort was made to respect their political rights. The British didn't show as much political competance as they sometimes did in this situation but they did better then is sometimes made out.
Oddly enough the Turks arguably have more to complain about the Zionists then the Arabs, as it could be said that they were backstabbed by them. The Turks had allowed Zionist settlements several years before World War I. Looking back that is kind of a "well duh". But the Sultan at the time apparently believed the Ottoman Empire was doomed. And so he was willing to take the risk of allowing ambitious foreigners in, in return for a short-term spike in revenue. Be that as it may, the Zionists took the British side which seems more then a bit like ingratitude. Politics is a rather nasty game, as we all know.

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