I don’t mean to minimize the current violence in Israel, Palestine and Lebanon, and it’s certainly a conflict that I find endlessly fascinating to follow, if a little exhausting. I do, however, think that the current escalation and the conflict as a whole needs to be placed in the context of more serious conflicts.

The suffering of all those involved is utterly tragic (less so in the case of Hamas and Hizbollah fighters) and I think it’s always worth pointing out how easy it is to condemn, pontificate and bloviate when you’re not in the line of fire (or its target for that matter). But it seems to me that the war between Israel on the one hand and the Palestinians and Shiite Lebanese on the other has received and is receiving an inordinate amount of media attention, given its severity. When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this is pretty much inevitable and the conflagration does have important geopolitical implications – implications and an inevitability that I won’t go into here for fear of losing what’s left of my mind.

For the sake of comparison, however, it’s worth noting that since the outbreak of the first intifada, which to me marks the point when the Palestinian-Israeli conflict truly became distinct from the Arab-Israeli conflict, roughly 5,000 Israelis and Palestinians have been killed in total throughout the war’s various manifestations (sources: B’Tselem, Haaretz, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Time) out of a total combined conflict-affected population of about 10 million. That’s about 0.05 percent. In the course of Israel’s 1982 incursion into Lebanon and the ensuing conflict with Hizbollah, the death toll was around 20,000. That’s out of a total Lebanese population (plus Israeli soldiers) of around three and a half million, about 0.6 percent.

The ongoing conflict in Darfur has taken the lives of 200,000 people since 2003 (estimates vary quite a bit, this seems to be something of a consensus figure – other estimates are much higher) out of a population of about seven and a half million. That’s almost 3 percent of Darfur’s entire population. The war in the Russian breakaway province of Chechnya has resulted in the deaths of at least 46,500 people. Out of a population of a little over a million that’s about 4 percent. Iraq: around 200,000 out of a population of 28,807,000, around 0.6 percent. Congo: Deaths resulting from the war are estimated at 3.8 million from surveys conducted by the International Rescue Committee, out of a population of 59,319,660. Almost six and a half percent of the population.

Explore posts in the same categories: Israel/Palestine

2 Comments on “Conflicted”

  1. louisproyect Says:

    You are missing the point, idiot. Israel is supposed to be superior to Sudan, Russia, apartheid South Africa and other states that carry out ethnic cleansing on a massive scale. The fact that it is seen to conduct itself like these states means that it no longer enjoys the support of decent liberal (and secular Jewish) people like it once did. If it kills 400 Lebanese civilians or 4000, the perception will be identical: a racist bully state raining death and destruction on any peoples who dare to challenge its right to reinstitute the ancient Biblical Kingdom under the auspices of the F-16.

  2. Hank Roth Says:

    Not so idiotic Louis. If Israel doesn’t take care of itself, who will? Forget the numbers. It isn’t about numbers anyway, it is more Darwinian than that. It is about survival and insuring the preservation of Israel as a haven for Jews who are still being scapegoated. Only now it is done against Israel but it is till meant to be against the Jews who so many refuse not to hate. As a Jew yourself you ought to have a better understanding of why Israel is as important as it is and why we can’t look at this statistically; it was never just about numbers.


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