August 08, 2006

Unbelievably bad taste

Just watching BBC News 24 Hardtalk programme with Binyamin Netanyahu (once Israeli PM). At one point, Netanyahu likened the rocket attacks by Hizbullah to the Blitz! I think this is very distasteful. The basis for his claim was that Hizbullah launched 3,000 rockets into Israel, the same number as the number of V1 and V2 rockets fired at London during the Blitz. Well, that might be true but it is a very clumsy attempt at deception.

Firstly, V1 and V2 rockets only account for a tiny percentage of the number of bombs dropped on London during the Blitz. The total number, according to wikipedia, not the most reliable of sources of course, was over 1 million. Secondly, the number of Israeli civilian casualties is in the tens, the number of civilian casualties during the Blitz was (according to wiki) 43,000.

Anyway, he continued to push this analogy from time to time during the rest of the interview, he was obviously quite pleased with it. This raises the question: does he really think that he's involved in something like WW2, fighting Hitler? Or is it just clumsy bullshit trying to trick us into thinking that what they're doing is right?

- 9 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. Voting for clumsy bullshit.

    Really fucking clumsy stupid bullshit.

    08 Aug 2006, 13:54

  2. Linda

    Hi Dan,

    I also watched the interview and I must say that I don’t share your thoughts.
    It seemed to me that the HardTalk interviewer basically did not listen to Netanyahus answers and just continued to push on the subject of collateral civilian damage while disregarding the fact that Israel is being showered with thousands of rockets. It seemed as though an ongoing rocket attack on a country carried out by a militia which is well known to be a terrorist organization (with blood on their hands, american, british and israeli blood -that is…) and a militant proxy of Iran is just not a good enough reason for Israel to fight back.
    It is well known (proven by satellite photes, US Airforce intelligence, Israeli drone videos etc…) that Hizbullah is operating out of civilian areas using the powerful force of disguise and blend into the environment so that individual Hizbullah terrorists cannot be discerned from the rest of the civilians in the area. This tactic of theirs which is banned by the Geneva convention (and for a good reason) basically dictates the outcome of any attempt to fight back – collateral civilian damage. And although it is simply dreadful to see innocent civilians being killed – it is simply unavoidable unless you as the recepient of the rocket shower are willing to simply go about with your daily life and have citizens killed. This is the sad truth.
    It is very convenient to simply blame Israel – in fact it has become a ritual for Europe to always blame Israel for any ailment that the world is facing. Do you really believe that Mr. Bin Laden will stop his Jihad war agains the west the moment Israel ceases to exist? Mr. Bin Laden has expressed his demand that the west converst to Islam. What then? I believe that the solution to this situation which we all part of is a complicated one and does not simply based on the elimination of Israel.

    12 Sep 2006, 22:45

  3. Linda, your comments don’t seem to have anything to do with what I wrote about that interview.

    12 Sep 2006, 23:38

  4. Linda

    I think my comments are relevant to what you wrote since by reading your blog – it would seem that your opinion is that the Israeli retaliation to the Hizbullah terror is not and should not be compared to other wars which involved rockets hitting civilian targets such as the german rockets and also it seems to me that you believe that you believe that Mr. Netanyahu is trying to trick the audience into thinking that what they are doing is right… therefore I deduct that you believe that what they are doing (i.e. – retaliating and trying to stop Hizbullah) is not the right thing to do.

    Therefore, may I ask what you suggest would be the “right thing to do” had you been a leader in Israel and your country is attacked by a few thousand rockets?
    However please answer carefully using the following assumptions:
    a. you have tried to bring peace but have so far failed – therefore saying something like:”I would simply make peace” is not applicable – it is applicable on the long run however tactically – you just can’t make peace in a matter of a few days – and this conflict is a tactical conflict – and Hizbullah is saying again and again that they do not want peace – and that they exist to destroy and eliminate Israel – so it’s kind of tough to make peace with an orgenization such as Hizbullah
    b. You want to defend your citizens and you want to keep them alive
    c. You want to minimize the amount of casualties in your army
    d. You want to minimize the amount of casualties in Lebanon (civilians – that is…)

    I am interested to hear your opinion.


    13 Sep 2006, 15:59

  5. Well I think it’s a little unreasonable to ask me to come up with an alternative policy for the Israeli government, just as it would be unreasonable to ask a critic of, say, Hamas what they should do in response to Israeli tactics against them. It is possible and acceptable to criticise atrocious behaviour without having a ready made and peaceful solution to the problem.

    FWIW, the point of this blog entry was to point out how Netanyahu in that interview used a very deceptive analogy. A specific analogy between Hizbullah rockets and V2 bombs fired at London in WW2. I pointed out that this is a false analogy and gave my reasons. Any disagreement there?

    As it happens, I also believe that what the Israelis did, and what they are still doing, is wrong, for a variety of reasons. Mainly, what they are doing both in Lebanon and to the Palestinians amounts to collective punishment which is absolutely shocking. I also believe that their actions in Lebanon are entirely disproportionate – the number of Israeli casualties due to Hizbullah rocket attacks is in the tens. What they have done makes things worse in the long run because it gives a new generation of Lebanese reason to hate the Israelis. The Hippocratic oath is a fundamental tenet of Western medicine: “First do no harm”. The Israelis would do well to follow this advice.

    I do not particularly wish to go into any more detail than that here. At some future date I may decide to write a more general blog entry about Israel and the Middle East, at which point I will engage in debate of any length and complexity about the issue, but until then I don’t want to feel that I have to be drawn into an exhausting and lengthy discussion about the totality of the Middle East conflict every time I make a point about something related to it.

    13 Sep 2006, 16:21

  6. Linda

    Hi Dan,

    Without going further into the discussion – I disagree that Mr. Netanyahu used a deceptive or false analogy since I believe every western sovereign country would try to stop it’s enemies from hurting it’s citizens – and if it didn’t – then the leadership would be declaired unfit and would have to be replaced by a leadership which would protect it’s people.

    Therefore I believe that Mr. Netanyahu just wanted to point out the fact that what Israel has done was unfortunately the only thing to do in that unfortunate case and that any other nation that has no death wish would in fact do the same. I pretty much believe that this is true – and I find it hard to believe that if say – Australia would be attacked by say Papua New Ginea – it would just sit there and condemn the attacks vocally. Action would of course be inevitable… and once there is action – collective punishment in unavoidable even if you are the most humane of all nations. Sad but true. Of course judging and criticizing is a natural thing but it’s extremely easy to criticize when you have nothing to lose.

    Actually the amount of dead israelis amounts to more then tens – and irrespective of the amount – the Israelis are fighting a terrorist militia in a war that was forced upon them. The way I see it (and also the way many Lebanese ministers and many arab leaders – such as the president of Egypt) – it is actually the Hizbullah that is to be blamed. It’s a fact that Israel is now out of Lebanon for 6 years – during which no Israeli soldier set foot on Lebanese soil – so therefore Hizbullah had in fact no reason to provoke Israel and to start this war.

    However, it seems to me that the world be happier if Israel would simply be wiped off the map. This will probably happen in the next few years – it’s a matter of time before Iran drops the A-Bomb and finishes the job that Hitler has not completed…

    I wonder who the next scapegoat for Muslim fundementalism would be…

    Anyway… let’s not drag this discussion further – I repect your opinion and hope for a better world.

    All the best,

    13 Sep 2006, 22:43

  7. Well it certainly was a false analogy, as he was suggesting a numerical equivalence between the number of bombs falling on London during the Blitz and the number of Hizbullah rockets fired at Israel, read the entry above.

    I also think that you’re mad if you think Israel will be wiped off the map. No country would attack Israel with nukes, that would be quite M.A.D.

    But we can agree that Hizbullah are behaving quite stupidly. I certainly don’t blame the Lebanese deaths on them. That would be perverse. But they are not pursuing a sensible strategy, even for their own aims.

    We can also agree to disagree and not continue this conversation.

    14 Sep 2006, 01:19

  8. Danny

    Yes you are right it isn’t comparable – as you would know if you didn’t get all your information from Wiki:

    1) 5,000 V2’s were launched but only 1,100 hit any part of Britain, so Mr Netanyahu was UNDERSTATING the barrage from Hizbollah.
    2) As I am sure even Wiki has managed to get right, the bombing of Britain was from summer 1940 until late autumn 1944. The war with Hizbollah was just over a month. So if a million bombs were dropped – lets assume you actually got this figure right – that would work out to around 20,000 bombs dropped on the UK per month. This is the real comparison and given the disparity in the number of Londoners – much more than 4 million – and number of Northern Israelis – less than one million – this is very comparable.
    3) As for causalties – again we are talking one month with less than 1 million Israelis. Real figure for London is around 30,000 dead which means the that relatively Mr Netanyahu is out by a factor of around two.

    You claim to be a mathematician but as we all know all real mathematicians are poor at arithmetic.

    23 Jul 2007, 16:07

  9. Dan

    Danny, your reply is in equally bad taste as Mr Netanyahu’s original statement I’m afraid.

    I just checked your facts because I’m not a historian so obviously I have to rely on what I read. According to every webpage I read the Blitz lasted from September 7th 1940 to May 1941. A few quotes:


    “For the next consecutive 57 days, London was bombed either during the day or night. Fires consumed many portions of the city. Residents sought shelter wherever they could find it – many fleeing to the Underground stations that sheltered as many as 177,000 people during the night. In the worst single incident, 450 were killed when a bomb destroyed a school being used as an air raid shelter.”


    “By the end of 1940, German air raids had killed 15,000 British civilians. One of the worst attacks had occurred on the night of November 14/15 against Coventry, an industrial city east of Birmingham in central England. In that raid, 449 German bombers dropped 1,400 high explosive bombs and 100,000 incendiaries which destroyed 50,000 buildings, killing 568 persons, leaving over 1,000 badly injured. The incendiary devices created fire storms with super-heated gale force winds drawing in torrents of air to fan enormous walls of flames.”

    Do you equate that to the Israeli experience?

    I’m sorry but I think that’s a trivialisation of history for political purposes.

    23 Jul 2007, 21:17

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