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Quantifying bias

Reader comment on item: Middle East Debate: Should Washington Actively Promote an Israeli-Palestinian Peace Settlement?

Submitted by Mladen Andrijasevic (Israel), May 17, 2003 at 11:20

Quantifying bias

Martin Indyk gives us a rare opportunity to actually quantify anti-Israeli bias. His answer to Daniel Pipes’s statement that we will know that we have achieved a peaceful resolution when “the Jews living in Hebron need as little security as the Arabs living in Nazareth” was: “And we have to think back to about Goldstein, the beginning of the process, and the massacre that took place in Hebron, and by a Jewish settler from Kirya Arba”.

In other words, here we have an explicit comparison of violence against Israeli civilians perpetrated by Palestinians versus violence against Palestinian civilians perpetrated by Israeli settlers.

In order to reduce the possibility of error, let us take into account only those clear cut cases where there is no doubt whatsoever about the motive of the assailant. Let us take the cases of the suicide bombers and suicide shooters. We will disregard the 16000 attacks against Israeli targets since September 2000 and cases of rampage of settlers against Palestinians.

Since 1994 when Baruch Goldstein massacred 28 worshipers in Hebron, there have been more that 175 Palestinian suicide bombers.

Therefore, we have a comparison of 175 versus 2 (I am not sure what incident in Kirya Arba Martin Indyk is referring to but let’s count it in).

By bringing up the case of Baruch Goldstein, Martin Indyk apparently believes that he has shown that “both sides” are responsible for violence.

In any other comparison taken outside the realm of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict a 175 : 2 ratio would be considered so one-sided that the smaller number would most probably be dropped or at least the discrepancy commented on. In this case, it was not done and the two cases of Israeli violence against Palestinian was supposed to counter the 175 cases of Palestinian violence against the Israelis.

Consequently, we can quantify the anti –Israeli bias as being roughly of two orders of magnitude. That is, Palestinian violence is implicitly reduced by a factor of 100 before it is compared to Israeli violence.

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