Monday, August 07, 2006

The Fuzzy Math of Casualty Counting

In an 'Irony of Ironies' sort of way, I feel that I need to post more because of the situation in Israel, yet because my life at work and at home is heavily wrapped up into it, I have had a lot less time to do so. But nevertheless I wanted to share some 'Fuzzy Math' with you.

The biggest problem I have with newspapers is that corrections never appear on Page 1. More so than ever, this war between Israel and the Hezbollah is being fought as hard on the Internet, TV, and print news as much as it is being fought in the streets of Beirut and Haifa. Hezbollah has been working the media by emphasizing its usual tactics - it's soldiers don't wear uniforms so that they can easily be mistaken for 'civilian' casualties and its policy of firing from within heavily populated areas puts Israel on the spot as taking out rocket sites will undoubtly cause civilian causualties.

Of course because of the high ratio of Lebanese and Hezbollah killed vs. the numbers of Israelis killed the anti-semites of the world try to lead the unsuspecting outsider to think that Israel is using excessive force - surely they must be. Why else would there be 6 Lebanese/Hezbollah killed for every Israeli? The answer of course lies in the Fuzzy math, being employed by the left-leaning, anti-Israel spin doctors of the media. I want to take this opportunity to point out several facts that the general media doesn't seem to be emphasizing too much on purpose:

  1. The Media, Hezbollah, and Lebanese Officials have been artifically inflating death tolls. First there was Qana, where even organizations that are not friends of Israel pointed out that the initially reported death tolls doubled the casualty numbers. Then on Friday, Lebanese officials insisted that there were 900 dead, yet most media reports had confirmed only 600 or so. Today Lebanese Prime Minister claimed that 40 people were killed on an IDF attack on the village of Houla - which he retracted a few hours later, when only one person was confirmed dead. However, while the media is quick to jump on claims by AFP, Retuers and the like as they come over the wire, they don't give as much attention to the updates and retractions.
  2. There is no way to separate Hezbollah Causalties from Lebanese Civilians. Because Hezbollah doesn't have uniforms, there is no way to tell if a person lying in the rubble of a bombed out building was an innocent guy preparing his dinner when the missiles hit, or someone who was just at the controls of a missle launcher. Even if we can tell he was innocent, there is still no way to verify if he was there out of his own volition. Israel claims that it has killed almost 200 hezbollah fighters - or approximately 30% of all Lebanese causalties, yet Hezbollah denies those claims.
  3. Hezbollah's weapons haven't had much success. It's hard to believe, but Hezbollah has fired more than 2000 rockets into Israel. fortunately, only a handful of them have actually caused death in Israel. Chalk it off to the inaccuracy of the Katyushas, Israeli countermeasures and civil defence policies, or an act of G-d, in any case, imagine if every Katyusha killed 1 person. That would mean that 2000 Israelis - primarily civilian, since most of Hezbollah's missles were fired at civilian targets - would have lost their lives by now. Who then would be using excessive force?

I am not sure what the media's fascination with Hezbollah is, but why is it making up lies and ebellishing the truth to support them.

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