Surveying the Conflict

In visiting Israel, the elephant in the room, the reason everybody keeps telling me to stay off the busses, is the low-level civil war they've had going for the past few years. The State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs cheerfully declares that Americans should reconsider travel to Israel. But then again, and not to suggest that Powell thinks Americans are complete wussies or anything, they also warn that all travel to that big place called "abroad" might be considered risky.

I have generally been under the impression, and people who research this kind of thing more than I do seem to agree, that war is confusing and reliable facts hard to come by. Nevertheless, when it comes to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, there seems to be no shortage of people both offering and arguing from what appear to be suprisingly complete, detailed statistics on the conflict. Clearly, we are talking about an amazingly well-documented war for one that the media largely ignores. In analyzing wars, as in cosmology, I tend not to trust those who claim to have a curious abundance of data.

What is clearly the case, almost any way one treats the numbers, is that as a non-Jew, non-Israeli, I am in somewhat to considerably greater danger from the Israeli Defence Force than I am from the Palestinian resistance, even if I stay out of Gaza (as I will).

On the topic of establishing who can be trusted, this database can come in handy. As the site says, the emphasis of the project is on cataloging articles as they come out, along with their provenance -- background information on the authors and publishers, so that they can be judged on their track records. My impression so far is that a depressingly large fraction of the extant literature is wholly unreliable. While this is true on all sides of the debate, I would particularly highlight out the pro-Zionist think tanks and some of the Arab state-run media outlets as the locus of two extremist poles of thought, each working out of its own fantasy world, totally incompatable with that of the other, not to mention the real world.

It's worth mentioning that our current president has an imaginary world of his own, too, and certain folks are starting to call him on it.

To close on a brighter note, it's good to see that some people are still advocating for a nonviolent approach to resolving the situation. A few thousand guerilla fighters will not stop and certainly cannot destroy an adversary like Israel. A million ordinary people resolved to flaunt the unjust restrictions placed upon them. however, has brought down much larger and better-entrenched systems of repression than this. If this basic fact is in the air, not all hope is lost.

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This page contains a single entry by Milligan published on September 29, 2004 6:32 PM.

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