Monday, July 31, 2006

posted by Elad

Numbers

Israelis like to think of their country as morally superior to the Hezbollah. The most obvious reason is that formally, the Israeli army does not aim to strike civilians. The Israeli prime minister instructs the army not to hurt civilians, the chief of staff repeats that order, and any soldier/commander will repeat this in any interview. The civilian casualties are all "collateral damage".
The Hezbollah however has no such pretence. Its goal is to kill as many babies, women and old people as possible (with the exception that these need to be jewish or possibly druze).
Why then is the international public opinion concerned mostly about Israel's actions? I've heard many reasons, by far the most common is mathematical:
There are far more civilian casualties on the Lebanese side. The argument proceeds by saying that intentions have no meaning if the outcome is the same, or even worse with the "noble" Israeli intentions.

I'd like to point out a fallacy of that argument given by former israeli PM Bibi Netanyahu (by far not my favorite politician). In world war II, Nazi Germany had lost approximately seven million people. That's more than any other nation except for Russia (but including the Jews, Gypsies and homosexuals murdered in the death camps).

9 Comments:

Blogger ran said...

Interesting point.
Although you gave the Nazy Germany case, numbers do count. They're not the entire story but they have some weight.
Many would say that the same reason America is after the black gold in Iraq, is the reason why other countries (like france)are opposing Israel - it is bad for their business and the relations with some muslim and other eastern countries to support Israel.
Others would say that public opinion is formed according to the audience, and you can see that ~10M jews are no match for hundreds of M of muslims, many of them living in europe.
Also the issue of guilt because of past european colonialism. They try to cover it up with sympathy today. This is the root of the thought that Israel wants to expand. They are projecting their empires on our little country.
I think the problem is connected to neo-colonialistic thought: the europeans see themselves as adults and the east as children. they see the west as rational and the east as savages. That is why the expect more from Israel, who is percieved western.

5:56 PM  
Blogger Ofer said...

Indeed, lets do the math:

The IDF has reported that for every kilo of explosives fired by Hizballah onto Israel, the IDF has retaliated with a ton of explosives. 1 ton = 1000 kilos. There are roughly ten times more Lebanese casualties than Israeli casualties. This means that the IDF values Lebanese civilian lives about 100 times more than Hizballah values Israeli civilian lives.

Its a simplistic argument, but at its core there is an unarguable truth: If Israel were deliberately targeting civilians like Hizballah is, many many more Lebanese would be dead by now.

6:29 PM  
Blogger Elad said...

In this case i think number are almost the entire story: there are more than a billion muslims in the world, more than 20 arab countries, 47 predominantly muslim countries, approximately a quarter of the UN seats are of muslim states, a huge percentage of the world oil reserves. That is much more than the jewish nation can produce, let alone israel.

go figure why the world media focuses on Hezbollah hostages killed by mistake in their duty as living shields of missiles, while the city of Naharia, which was completely distroyed by Hezbollah rockets, goes unmentioned.

6:53 PM  
Blogger ran said...

hmmm... I knew it was a mistake on my part to argue about math and numbers when you two are here...
I think we are waisting too much effort arguing for Israel's just cause. Because even if we persuade some people of Israel's pure intents the effect will be gone when the next terrible masacre occurs. I believe it is more important to change the violent instinct Israel is inflicted with. We have a just cause but we are not doing all that we can on our side to end the conflict in the region. We must end the occupation in the west bank and east jerusalem. We must negotiate a peace agreement with syria and return the golan heights. Instead of using every excuse to argue we have no partner in peace, we should take the initiative and find a partner, or make the world find the partner.
The arabs hate us. we will not change their minds. Many others hate us too. Only 60 years ago they exterminated 6M of our people, including members of our families, on european land. Jewish people still are harrased in France and other countries (hard to believe, but true).
Fuck them ! lets do what we think is just instead of waisting our time convincing others we are right.

9:11 PM  
Blogger Elad said...

Ran, if I were PM and you were say minister of law, we would withdraw from the west bank immediately.
Given my possibilities to influence the mid-east, my only hope is to show the one or two arabs that actually read this blog a different viewpoint. Maybe even convince them of a fact which is obvious to us all: that the vast majority of Israelis do have pure intensions.

10:36 PM  
Blogger ran said...

But elad, I'm afraid the original idea of showing a different perspective has drifted to showing that we are better people. I'm not sure we are (maybe the writers here are, but I don't think we represent anyone but ourselves).
I think the blog should be a place to raise ideas, thoughts and feelings and not a propoganda battle ground for showing who is the bad guy. We have fallen into the same trap every PM of Israel falls into: When you put yourself in the position of representing Israel you automatically think you have to accept a lot of what Israel has already done, and support the policies Israel has built for years. You let yourself show some change but not too much. This is probably because we are taught to differentiate our individiality from our position. This is what makes a guy with socialist sentiments earn as a bank manager 100 times more than his workers. This way you lose your individuality and with it all the good intentions and wise ideas. We have to decide whether we are part of the propoganda machine (the 'bank managers') or are individuals that feel and think, and are free to criticise everyone and everything.

11:32 PM  
Blogger Elad said...

Ran, I want to share as many thoughts as freely as possible. With limited amount of time, i'd share my thoughts on the most pressing and least understood issues first.
I have no problem critisising Israel, but there are millions of people doing that already and very fiercly indeed. Very few justify Israel's actions, and of these the majority are government morons.
That said, given our contributor composition I think there is no danger of us becoming an Israeli propaganda blog.

2:57 PM  
Blogger IsrealiMom said...

It's not strictly about numbers anyway. I do think Israel has a right to respond with all its might, which happens to be a lot more than what the HA has. Of course we try to avoid hurting civilians. Even one is too much if it were on purpose. It's not an eye for an eye. Imagine, if we could fight and have zero civilian casualties on the other side? who wouldn't like that?

7:27 PM  
Blogger Elad said...

Intention vs. numbers:
Just read an interview with the first "refuser" of the Lebanon war, an officer in the armored units. The interviewer asks: "but the Hezbollah aim to kill.".
officer: "Well, if they had hit (and killed many civilians) we may have had justification for this war.".

8:38 PM  

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