Sultans and numbers
HDN | 9/29/2011 12:00:00 AM | Burak Bekdil - email@example.com
In an interview with CNN last weekend, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan argued that a) there have been just a few rockets targeting Israel, and b) a great number of Palestinians have been killed by Israel.
In an interview with CNN last weekend, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan argued that a) there have been just a few rockets targeting Israel, and b) a great number of Palestinians have been killed by Israel. Here is the original transcript from that interview:
Erdoğan: “Here’s what’s being said – and this is upsetting to hear. They say that Palestine is bombing and disturbing the people of Israel and many Israelis have been killed. I’m very clear in my remarks; I would like to see accurate statistics of how many Israelis have been killed by the bombs thrown by Palestinians or with the rockets that were launched by them. Ten, 20, 100, 200? How many? Please document it. Let us know. But on the other hand, we know that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were killed. Only as a result of the Gaza attack, thousands of people were killed. These are very clear remarks.”
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians? Sounds like coffeehouse chat in Konya. Mathematically – and simplistically – speaking, “hundreds of thousands” should mean any figure between 200,000 and 900,000, or an average of 550,000. Considering Palestinian demographics, one merely feels like pleading “Have mercy, Mr. Prime Minister!” It should be an elementary qualification of a statesman to have a fair notion of order of magnitude when making speeches supported by numbers.
First, the “peacemakers:” Here is a rich assortment of Palestinian/Arab charity and peace groups that have operated in the past four decades, with philanthropic missions explicitly revealed by their stage names: Hamas, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Abu Nidal Organization, the Black September Organization, the Palestinian Liberation Front, the Arab Liberation Front, As-Sa’iqa, the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front, the Palestinian Arab Front, Tanzim, Force 17, Fatah Special Operations Group, the Ahmed Abu Reish Brigade, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the Army of Islam, Jund Ansar Allah, Fatah al-Islam, Jund al-Sham and Jaljalat.
Mr. Erdoğan is free to think that all of these groups have been formed to send flowers and candy to Israeli soldiers – yes, soldiers, since most of these militant groups claim there are no Israeli civilians. Women? They are soldiers who serve in the Israeli army. Elderly women? They once served in the Israeli army. Children and babies? They will serve in the Israeli army when they grow up.
Since Mr. Erdoğan seems to be in love with numbers, allow me to mention a few here:
- Over 7,000 rockets have been fired into the Israeli territory since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Perhaps Mr. Erdoğan believes these rockets came from the FARC in Colombia.
- Arab deaths in the Arab-Israeli conflict since 1950 total 46,000, including 11,000 during Israel’s War of Independence; or less than 50,000, including fatalities during and after Operation Cast Lead.
- Between the Oslo Accords in 1993 and July 2005, over 400 members of the Israeli security forces and 821 civilians were killed by Palestinians, mainly in suicide bombings, including not-yet-ranking soldiers aged 1-15.
- During the Second Intifada alone, 1,137 Israelis were killed by Palestinians.
- Between 2000 and 2010, 496 Israeli civilians (sorry again, I mean soldiers!) were killed in Israel along with another 242 in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. In the same period, 664 Palestinians were killed by Palestinians.
- Since the 1982 Lebanon War, 7,000-10,000 Palestinians have been killed in intra-fighting among various Palestinian charity groups.
No doubt “order of magnitude” should be taught at Turkish schools, including imam schools. I cannot decide whether Ottoman or Turkish sultans are better with numbers.