ORB revises estimate of Iraqi deaths

ORB has revised their estimate of violent deaths as a result of the Iraq war (discussed earlier here). They write:

Further survey work undertaken by ORB, in association with its research partner IIACSS, confirms our earlier estimate that over 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens have died as a result of the conflict which started in 2003.

Following responses to ORB’s earlier work, which was based on survey work undertaken in primarily urban locations, we have conducted almost 600 additional interviews in rural communities. By and large the results are in line with the ‘urban results’ and we now estimate that the death toll between March 2003 and August 2007 is likely to have been of the order of 1,033,000. If one takes into account the margin of error associated with survey data of this nature then the estimated range is between 946,000 and 1,120,000.

ORB Press release

Tables

My table of Iraqi deaths to date now looks like this:

Survey Violent deaths Excess deaths
ILCS 150,000
Lancet 1 290,000 420,000
IFHS 280,000 700,000
Lancet 2 1,100,000 1,200,000
ORB 1,100,000

Hat tip: Stephen Soldz.

Comments

  1. #1 dhogaza
    February 3, 2008

    Typical response when you’re called on your shit.

  2. #2 JB
    February 3, 2008

    dhogaza:

    You must be one of those god-damned, Hell-bound, Darwin-worshiping “Evil biologists” like Richard Dawkins, who is both an anti-Christian bigot and an anti-Semite, at least according to Barton Paul Levenson.

  3. #3 Will McLean
    February 3, 2008

    When they first surveyed Dhi Qar, they got 1-2 deaths in 75 households (the number of dead and cause of death tables disagree)

    When they returned to do the rural interview, they got a dozen deaths in 38 households or two clusters. Not as bad as Lancet I in Falluja, but pretty lumpy.

  4. #4 Donald Johnson
    February 3, 2008

    I’m not going to look, but how much of the calculated death toll in ORB comes from outliers like the one Will seems to have spotted? (I say “seems” because I haven’t checked, not that I doubt Will is right.) Is there a need to toss out clusters like that, and would it make a significant difference? I’m just asking–I have no idea what the answer is.

    I suppose we can also have a rehash of the weird debate about whether finding areas that are exceptionally violent actually suggests a drop in post-2003 mortality, but I for one am willing to skip it.

  5. #5 Sortition
    February 3, 2008

    Actually, a dozen deaths in 38 households would not be a significant outlier. According to ORB statistics, the expected number of deaths in 38 households is about 9.5.

  6. #6 Will McLean
    February 3, 2008

    This raises another issue. Burnham et al calculated apparently calculated their design effect and margin of error based on total mortality. But violent death shows much more variability between and within clusters than total death, so the design effect should be much higher for that estimate, increasing its uncertainty over that stated in Burnham et al.

    This paper seems to thinks so:

    http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~jewell/lancet061.pdf

  7. #7 Sortition
    February 3, 2008

    With 18% of the households experiencing at least one violent death, and the average number of deaths within those households being 1.26, the cluster effect cannot be very high. Even if we try to stick all the high mortality households into as few clusters as possible, the std. dev. would still be about equal to the total number of deaths divided by the sqrt of the number of clusters, or about 100,000.

  8. #8 Will McLean
    February 3, 2008

    This paper estimates design effect for violent death in Burnham et al at 5.5

    http://www.cedat.be/Documents/Working_Papers/CREDWPIraqMortalityJune2007.pdf

  9. #9 sod
    February 3, 2008

    Sure looks like a design effect of 29 to me! Why should the Falluja cluster be excluded when reporting the design effect of L1?

    we call this fixation.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fixation_%28psychology%29

    Moreover, it is an empirical question whether or not ORB had a cluster “like Falluja.” Did they or didn’t they? The fact that they didn’t survey Anbar is largely irrelevant to that issue since, as IFHS tells us, there are a lot of violent places in Iraq outside of Anbar. You don’t think that there are some equally high mortality neighborhoods in other governorates.

    there are such high mortality clusters. just remember the Yazidi bombings in small villages.

    but the real question is the probability, that a FRESH high mortality cluster is chosen during a survey.

    and i m convinced that this probability decreased MASSIVELY after the Fallujah campaign.

    By the way wrt to sod in #96, Will McLean provides a useful overview of the issues with ORB.

    Will is mainly throwing mud.
    the ORB poll was a newspaper poll.
    the methodology used is fine for such a poll, few people would expect highest scientific standards from it.
    McLean basically argues: “they got an error in the religion, the study result is likely false”. that is nonsense.

    This paper seems to thinks so:

    http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~jewell/lancet061.pdf

    i don t have much time and my R experiences are limited. can anyone use another value for W below 50? (page 9)

    or are they using the David Kane approach to use the Fallujah cluster to make wild claims?

  10. #10 sod
    February 3, 2008

    This paper estimates design effect for violent death in Burnham et al at 5.5

    http://www.cedat.be/Documents/Working_Papers/CREDWPIraqMortalityJune2007.pdf

    honest question will, you did not seriously link this paper?

    they fill 4 pages with critisism of the Lancet paper (right up to the “two month long poll” problem) while finding NOT A SINGLE problem with the IBC numbers.
    this is insane!

  11. #11 SG
    February 3, 2008

    Will, from that paper you reference in 108, I would like to have seen a reference to back up this claim:

    Since we are confronted with a small sample size for a very spread out
    probability distribution there is no reason that a standard model for the distribution
    of the count X is appropriate, quite on the contrary

    given that the negative binomial model is meant to handle this kind of thing. Maybe this is explained in the Bernestein paper from which they derive their formula.

    Also in estimating W they have used the maximum of clusters from 2 surveys, 2004 and 2006, but their formula from Bernstein’s inequality seems to have no method to handle the possibility they were sampled from different sized clusters, with different periods of exposure. Maybe the formula is better applied over some kind of rate measurement? What seems like a spread-out distribution in raw numbers maybe is not so spread out when the offset is taken into account. Given their estimated upper and lower bounds are linearly related to W, the value of W is important. Merging values from 2 studies which covered different time periods to estimate this W seems a somewhat risky way to get W.

    (Plus of course the Fallujah cluster should be excluded, so it shouldn’t be used to determine W).

  12. #12 Barton Paul Levenson
    February 4, 2008

    JB writes:

    [[You must be one of those god-damned, Hell-bound, Darwin-worshiping "Evil biologists" like Richard Dawkins, who is both an anti-Christian bigot and an anti-Semite, at least according to Barton Paul Levenson.]]

    You haven’t actually read what Richard Dawkins has written, have you?

    The anti-Christian sentiments are repeated too many times for any objective reader to doubt. The anti-semitism is evident in his proposed “science boycott” of Israel and the fact that he wants to ban kosher slaughtering in Europe (though, interestingly, not the almost identical halal slaughtering). Sorry, your poster boy for atheism is a disgusting bigot. Deal with it.

  13. #13 dhogaza
    February 4, 2008

    The anti-semitism is evident in his proposed “science boycott” of Israel and the fact that he wants to ban kosher slaughtering in Europe

    1. One can oppose Israel’s political activities without being anti-semitic. My jewish ex-wife has had problems with Israel’s political policies her entire adult life. Does she make that an anti-semite in BPL’s view? Is she a “self-hating Jew”? And the ornithology professor from U Tel Aviv I taught to trap and band hawks for a project he was starting in Elat, an outspoken critic of Israel’s policies (and a Colonel in the Army reserve). A “self-hating” Jew? Perhaps the fact that my ex-wife was Sephartic and the ornithology professor from India had something to do with their perception that the european jews that dominate Israeli politics are a bit racist.

    2. Many people oppose halal and kosher slaughtering on humane grounds. I’m not one of them, but this does not make one anti-semitic.

  14. #14 SG
    February 4, 2008

    Barton, where is your evidence that Dawkins opposes kosher but not halal slaughter? It’s not on your website, which incidentally does not mention a proposed “science boycott” of Israel, only that he used to support a boycott but has since distanced himself from it.

  15. #15 Barton Paul Levenson
    February 4, 2008

    SG — Everything Dawkins has said for the press is available on the web if you look like it. If you google “Dawkins” and “shochets” you should run across it. Lots of criticism of kosher slaughtering. No mention of halal slaughtering, even though there are many times more Muslims in Europe than Jews. Or maybe because there are many times more Muslims in Europe than Jews.

  16. #16 Barton Paul Levenson
    February 4, 2008

    Sorry, should have said “look for it” rather than “look like it.” Although, in SG’s case…

  17. #17 SG
    February 4, 2008

    I’m not sure what you mean, Barton. Your suggested search turns up one result and asks if I meant “sockets”. Changing shochet to schochet gets me results, but none of them linked. Changing it to kashrut (the word for Jewish food rules) gets a single quote “kashrut are divine ordinances without reason” from his work on memes.

    If, however, I type “halal slaughter richard dawkins” in google I get a link to his website, and a debate about whether halal slaughter should come with more information, whether it is equivalent to kosher meat, and so on.

    More information please!

  18. #18 dhogaza
    February 4, 2008

    Or maybe because there are many times more Muslims in Europe than Jews.

    I love the innuendo, that Dawkins is a “anti-semitic” “Islam-lover”.

    Dawkins, the same man who says that without religion there would be no suicide bombers, no 9/11 …

  19. #19 Anton Mates
    February 4, 2008

    The only thing I can find of Dawkins on the kosher/halal issue is a passing mention in TGD of the suffering of “adult cows or sheep in a slaughterhouse, especially a ritual slaughterhouse where, for religious reasons, they must be fully conscious when their throats are ceremonially cut.” That doesn’t particularly single out kosher practices while avoiding halal.

    As for a “science boycott” of Israel, Dawkins never supported that. In fact, he co-authored an article in Nature (“Is a scientific boycott ever justified?”, 23 January 2003) which strongly criticizes the idea of boycotting scientists based on citizenship.

    Dawkins did sign onto a petition arguing that “national and European cultural and research institutions” should no longer award grants and contracts to Israeli institutions, as they would to institutions in European states, “until Israel abides by UN resolutions and opens serious peace negotiations with the Palestinians.” Barton may be confusing that petition with a number of others, circulated at about the same time, which suggested actually boycotting or severing contacts with Israeli researchers.

  20. #20 JB
    February 4, 2008

    Poor Barton’s anti-Biologist (ie, anti-evolution) bent is showing.

    When it comes to biologists, it’s not really about anti-Christian bigotry or anti-Semitism at all. It’s about “EVILUTION”.

  21. #21 dhogaza
    February 4, 2008

    That doesn’t particularly single out kosher practices while avoiding halal.

    In fact, very much the opposite, since the description fits both halal and kosher slaughtering.

  22. #22 Barton Paul Levenson
    February 4, 2008

    JB posts, amusingly:

    [[Poor Barton's anti-Biologist (ie, anti-evolution) bent is showing.

    When it comes to biologists, it's not really about anti-Christian bigotry or anti-Semitism at all. It's about "EVILUTION".]]

    Except that I’m not either a creationist or an IDer. Most Christians aren’t. Your prejudices are showing again.

  23. #23 Barton Paul Levenson
    February 4, 2008

    Anton posts, weirdly:

    [[As for a "science boycott" of Israel, Dawkins never supported that. In fact, he co-authored an article in Nature ("Is a scientific boycott ever justified?", 23 January 2003) which strongly criticizes the idea of boycotting scientists based on citizenship.

    Dawkins did sign onto a petition arguing that "national and European cultural and research institutions" should no longer award grants and contracts to Israeli institutions, as they would to institutions in European states, "until Israel abides by UN resolutions and opens serious peace negotiations with the Palestinians." ]]

    And how does the latter differ from “a science boycott of Israel?” Do you read these things before you post them? This is like Martin splitting hairs about accusing Michael Mann of dishonesty versus implying it.

  24. #24 SG
    February 4, 2008

    Barton, you were wrong on both counts. Why not just admit it?

  25. #25 Anton Mates
    February 4, 2008

    Barton,

    And how does the latter differ from “a science boycott of Israel?”

    Is this a trick question?

    Many European (and some Israeli) academics suggested severing all cultural and research links between the two groups. European researchers would not seek employment at Israeli institutions; Israeli-employed researchers would not be invited to work concurrently at European ones. European academics would not attend Israel-hosted conferences, and Israeli-employed academics would not be invited to European ones. European academics would not agree to referee Israeli papers submitted for publication. That is an academic boycott, and that is what Dawkins et al. strongly opposed.

    It would not be a boycott for the EU to simply cease paying for Israeli research projects, any more than the EU is boycotting Vietnamese scientists by not regularly awarding them grants. Israeli institutions receive such grants largely because Israel is treated as a European state; revoking that status would not amount to a boycott.

    It’s a pretty big distinction.

  26. #26 Anton Mates
    February 4, 2008

    Also–and hopefully this won’t be surprising–even the supporters of a boycott generally specify that it would apply only to people employed by Israeli institutions, whatever their ethnicity. Israeli citizens working abroad would be exempt; Palestinian Muslims and Christians working for Israeli universities would be included.

    I agree with Dawkins that such a boycott would be a very bad idea, and would be antithetical to the spirit of science. But it’s hardly antisemitic, unless you think allegiance to the Israeli government is somehow encoded into Jewish DNA.

  27. #27 Barton Paul Levenson
    February 5, 2008

    Anton Mates writes:

    [[I agree with Dawkins that such a boycott would be a very bad idea, and would be antithetical to the spirit of science. But it's hardly antisemitic, unless you think allegiance to the Israeli government is somehow encoded into Jewish DNA.]]

    If it’s not antisemitic, how come it singled out Israel and not all the other countries with much worse human rights records, including ones bordering on Israel? Did they propose a science boycott of Syria because of what the Syrian government did to Hama (20,000 dead, I believe)? Did they propose a science boycott of Iraq, where Saddam Hussein had wiped out hundreds of thousands of Kurds and Shi’ites? Did they propose a science boycott of Serbia when Serbia was setting up “rape camps?” No. All the European human rights indignation seems to be pointed at Israel. Forgive me if I see antisemitism in that, I guess I’m just oversensitive.

  28. #28 SG
    February 5, 2008

    BPL, putting aside the simple fact that “they” has now been shown conclusively not to include the man you said it did, do you have any proof that “they” didn’t demand similar action in those other cases? There was a war and subsequent blockade of Iraq, for example. A lot of academics demanded “liberal interventionism” in serbia, culminating in its being bombed and forced to give up Kosovo. So maybe you need to confirm those claims before you bluster about racism.

    And you might like to address Anton’s specific point that the boycott proposed by some of “them” would also have affected christian, non-Jewish and muslim Israelis. You are starting to wriggle a lot to try and avoid the growing list of mistaken claims you have made…

  29. #29 sod
    February 5, 2008

    guys, i m all in favor of anti-Semitism, but could you please move this discussion elsewhere?

  30. #30 Jeff Harvey
    February 5, 2008

    Sod, one last point, then I am outta here!

    Barton said, ‘If it’s not antisemitic, how come it singled out Israel and not all the other countries with much worse human rights records, including ones bordering on Israel?’.

    First of all, Barton, how on Earth would you be able to compare the human rights situation between, say Syria and the Gaza strip? Conditions in Gaza are a living hell, with 70% of the people unemployed or living in utter poverty and desperation. Israel has effectively turned it into the world’s largest outdoor prison. To flippantly suggest that it’s ‘worse’ in neighboring countries is an abomination.

    Second, why have you exempted Saudi Arabia and Egypt for their abominable human rights records that at least are as bad, if not worse, than Syria’s? Could it be because both are US client states? I have to hand it to you Barton, you sure wear your heart on your sleeve. Its the same old story: highlight crimes committed by ‘them’ and downplay at all costs those committed by ‘us’ or our ‘clients’.

  31. #31 Barton Paul Levenson
    February 5, 2008

    Jeff Harvey writes:

    [[ Conditions in Gaza are a living hell, with 70% of the people unemployed or living in utter poverty and desperation. ]]

    Conditions in Gaza are bad because Gaza is blockaded. Gaza is blockaded because the government in Gaza is firing rockets into Israel and killing Israeli civilians. Solution to the bad conditions in Gaza: Stop firing the rockets into Israel.

    Or don’t the deaths of Israelis count?

  32. #32 JB
    February 5, 2008

    Barton Levenson said

    “Your prejudices are showing again.’

    I may have been wrong to assume that you do not accept evolution (Do you?) but questions like “Why Are So Many Biologists Evil” and “What is it with biologists?” juxtaposed with talk of anti-Christian bigotry and anti-Semitism on your website really make me wonder.

    You highlighted a mere handful of biologists on your site whom you imply are anti-Semitic and/or anti-Christian and then make unsupported broad generalizations like “there seem to be fewer nice biologists than nasty ones”. Talk about prejudice.

    Why not select a handful of physicists (eg, William Schockley, advocate of eugenics) and do the same?

    Why did you choose biologists? If not their overarching belief in evolution (which clearly sets them apart from many folks), what is it about this group that you so dislike?

    Perhaps it is simply that many of them are atheists? (as are many physicists, incidentally)

    Atheists are not all anti-Christian, anti-Semitic bigots.

    Incidentally, why is it that instead of arguing people’s points, you label people anti-Christian and anti-Semitic?

  33. #33 Donald Johnson
    February 5, 2008

    “Conditions in Gaza are bad because Gaza is blockaded. Gaza is blockaded because the government in Gaza is firing rockets into Israel and killing Israeli civilians. Solution to the bad conditions in Gaza: Stop firing the rockets into Israel.

    Or don’t the deaths of Israelis count?”

    By that logic obviously the lives of Palestinians don’t count at all. They’ve been doing the bulk of the dying all along and it’s apparently okay to punish millions of them for the violent actions of some–imagine the outcry if Israelis were subjected to the same treatment for their violence and their apartheid-like policies in the West Bank. (Comparing it to apartheid is fairly common among both Israelis and South Africans–Jimmy Carter is a latecomer in this respect.) I suspect many of those “antisemitic” Europeans would be much more upset by a blockade of Israel than they are by a blockade of Gaza.

    There is, of course, antisemitism at work in some of the criticism of Israel. But I think there’s at least as much anti-Arab bigotry at work among some of the defenders of Israel’s actions.

    Anyway, Barton, your definition of “antisemitism” seems to include anyone who is very critical of Israel’s actions and would include a fair number of Jewish authors, some of them Israeli. You accuse people of holding Israel to a higher standard, but you don’t actually know what their positions are on other issues, and you’re also rather free with claims that other countries are worse. For instance, the estimates for the number of dead in Hama in 1982 span a large range, but whatever the true number, it’s likely to be in the same ballpark as the number of civilians killed by Israel in Lebanon that year.

  34. #34 Donald Johnson
    February 5, 2008

    BTW, is there an open thread this debate could go to? A few people were talking about Iraqi mortality here.

  35. #35 Anton Mates
    February 5, 2008

    This is the most recent open thread, I think, so I’ll put my response there.

  36. #36 Jeff Harvey
    February 6, 2008

    Donald,

    Excellent post. It says everything that needs to be said.

  37. #37 Barton Paul Levenson
    February 6, 2008

    Hinay ma tov umanayim, shevet achim gom yachad.

  38. #38 Barton Paul Levenson
    February 6, 2008

    One difference between Israel and South Africa, of course, was that the ANC did not send suicide bombers into white areas to blow up buses, cafes, marketplaces, grocery stores, restaurants, and airports.

    Pro-Palestinian types like Donald above are always willing to overlook Palestinian atrocities. Again, the lives of Israelis don’t seem to count.

  39. #39 Barton Paul Levenson
    February 6, 2008

    Oh, and the main reason for poverty in the West Bank is that Fatah took the billions in aid money pouring in from Europe and elsewhere and used it to add to the estates of Fatah officers, rather than to build infrastructure or create jobs. Since Israel is no longer in the West Bank, it’s no longer appropriate to blame Israel for poverty there. Especially since the Israelis DID build infrastructure there.

    The Palestinians are faced with a choice in leadership between Hamas, which is made up of crazy killers, and Fatah, which is unbelievably corrupt and venal. Gaza chose Hamas, the West Bank chose Fatah. Mahmoud Abbas, God bless him, is at least trying to negotiate with Israel to set up a complete Palestinian state; for this, Hamas and people like Donald call him a traitor. Of course, that’s better than what happened to the Fatah guy who proposed a two-state solution in 1983 and was assassinated for doing so.

  40. #40 Barton Paul Levenson
    February 6, 2008

    Forgot his name: Dr. Issam Sartawi. Gunned down in Spain, as I remember, by PLO assassins. Then there’s Sadat…

  41. #41 SteveF
    February 6, 2008

    I thought this years Human Rights Watch report might be of interest r.e. Israel/Palestine. It’s well worth reading (starting page 484), documenting the crimes commited by both sides. Interestingly, this is the first year since 1967 in which more Palestinians died as a result of internal conflict, than Israeli activity.

    http://hrw.org/wr2k8/pdfs/wr2k8_web.pdf

  42. #42 Donald Johnson
    February 6, 2008

    My attempt to move this failed. I’ll post here, but I think if we want to keep this up it should go to the open thread where Anton placed his response.

    Barton wrote–

    “One difference between Israel and South Africa, of course, was that the ANC did not send suicide bombers into white areas to blow up buses, cafes, marketplaces, grocery stores, restaurants, and airports.

    Pro-Palestinian types like Donald above are always willing to overlook Palestinian atrocities. Again, the lives of Israelis don’t seem to count.”

    Um, Barton, ever hear of necklacing? I don’t know how many terrorist acts the ANC conducted against South African whites, but the Inkatha movement and the ANC had a near civil war going on in the townships, with horrific atrocities on both sides. The ANC saw Inkatha as collaborators with the white regime, which turned out to be true. Divide and conquer is an old strategy with occupiers and imperialists. And atrocities are pretty common on both sides in such conflicts.

    So if I wanted to play your silly game, I could say that the lives of black South Africans don’t seem to matter to you–it only matters whether the ANC targeted whites. But I don’t want to play on that level. I’ll assume you’re just trying to win an argument and in your eagerness to score a point either didn’t know or forgot just how brutal ANC supporters could be. This forgetfulness is convenient for your argument that there’s no analogy between South African apartheid and Israel/Palestine, but actually, there are many similarities, as Desmond Tutu and some Israelis (including the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem) recognize.

    As for my alleged unwillingness to acknowledge Palestinian atrocities, this is just another imaginary point you’re scoring. I’ve always condemned terror tactics no matter who carries them out and no matter what the cause. Necklacing was evil. So is suicide bombing. So is Israeli bombing and shelling of civilians and their whole settlement scheme.

    Finally, Barton, it’s quite true that some of the poverty in the occupied territories is due to Fatah corruption, but your attempt to exonerate the Israelis from any blame is absurd. You want to pretend that people like me (I condemn both sides when they commit atrocities) are one-sided, but you can’t bring yourself to admit Israel has done anything wrong.

  43. #43 Barton Paul Levenson
    February 6, 2008

    I am well aware of necklacing; it was the main reason I wanted Nelson Mandela to disassociate himself from Winnie. Again, the ANC did not target whites with suicide bombings. If they had, there might have been a lot more sympathy for white South Africans. The comparison between Israel’s occupation and apartheid remains incorrect, slanted, and defamatory.

    I think Israel has done a lot of things wrong. I think the settlements were a huge mistake. I think they should abandon all of them, pull out of the West Bank unilaterally, and just build a wall along the old Israel-Jordan border. But I think you’ll find, if they do that, that many Palestinians — Hamas, for instance — won’t be at all satisfied. They don’t just want a Palestinian state, they want the destruction of the Israeli state — excuse me, the “Zionist entity.” I really can’t blame the Israelis for resisting that.

  44. #44 Sortition
    February 6, 2008

    Just in case finding out who are the people being killed makes a difference to someone: data.

  45. #45 Donald Johnson
    February 6, 2008

    ” that many Palestinians — Hamas, for instance — won’t be at all satisfied. They don’t just want a Palestinian state, they want the destruction of the Israeli state — excuse me, the “Zionist entity”

    Some would be satisfied with a solution along the lines of the Geneva Accords, and some wouldn’t. They were ethnically cleansed in 1948, so their reluctance to give up on their right of return is entirely understandable. I think they should give it up on pragmatic grounds, but I don’t blame them for not seeing the justice of their own expulsion.

    As for apartheid analogies, there are two classes of people in the West Bank and two sets of rules governing them. One group can live either on the West Bank or in Israel proper and the other can’t. That’s the essential similarity. There are also differences and what happens in these debates is that those who object to the comparison stress those.

  46. #46 Barton Paul Levenson
    February 6, 2008

    Donald Johnson posts:

    [[As for apartheid analogies, there are two classes of people in the West Bank and two sets of rules governing them. One group can live either on the West Bank or in Israel proper and the other can't. That's the essential similarity. ]]

    Gee, I wonder why the Israelis wouldn’t want large numbers of Palestinians to come into Israel? Must be racism.

  47. #47 Donald Johnson
    February 6, 2008

    “Gee, I wonder why the Israelis wouldn’t want large numbers of Palestinians to come into Israel? Must be racism.”

    I pointed out that the Israelis give themselves the right to live either in the West Bank or Israel itself and the Palestinians are forced to live only in the West Bank (though many are from Israel itself and were forced out by the Israelis). So yes, the Israeli policy is racist.

    As for why Israelis don’t want large numbers of Palestinians to live in Israel, there are several reasons, which of course don’t apply to each individual Israeli. They have a fear of civil war (that’s a very sensible fear, IMO, though it’s as likely to be started by Israeli fanatics as Palestinian ones.) Second, Israel is a Jewish state because of ethnic cleansing, and when it comes right down to it, Israelis may be willing to admit this, but they like the results and have no intention of reversing them. White Americans have a phrase for this–”You don’t expect us to give it all back to the Indians?” Third, there’s plain old racism. Countries don’t enact racist policies like those of the settlements unless they contain a fair number of racists.

    Not that the Palestinians are angels. If they’d all gone the Gandhi route I’d be on their side, but since both sides have plenty of murderous self-righteous fanatics I think a two state solution is the realistic way to go.

  48. #48 Barton Paul Levenson
    February 7, 2008

    Donald Johnson writes:

    [[ Israel is a Jewish state because of ethnic cleansing]]

    Strange, then, that the Israeli population is 20% Arab. I wonder how that happened? They must have slipped by the ethnic cleansers somehow.

  49. #49 Donald Johnson
    February 7, 2008

    Barton, if you want to slip back to that level of argument, fine. Israeli historians like Meron Benveniste (sp?), Benny Morris, Avi Shlaim, and Shlomo Ben Ami (who was part of Barak’s government) all agree that there was ethnic cleansing in 1948. No, it wasn’t complete. Benny Morris actually regrets that it wasn’t complete. Have fun denying that it happened.

  50. #50 Barton Paul Levenson
    February 7, 2008

    If you mean some Israelis ousted some Arabs, then yes, it happened, and it’s old news. It does not mean that was Israeli policy, or that Arabs didn’t leave voluntarily. Golda Meir, in her autobiography, relates literally getting up on soapboxes to beg local Arabs to stay in the new state. Some listened and stayed; others left anyway, which is why Israel is one-fifth Arab today. Unless you think maybe she was lying to conceal some kind of genocidal Israeli policy?

    You may recall that Palestine was partitioned in 1947 into Israel and Trans-Jordan, and there was a lot of migration by people who didn’t want to live under one or the other government. The modern myth, which you apparently believe, is that the Israelis forced all the Palestinian Arabs to leave. Didn’t happen.

  51. #51 Donald Johnson
    February 7, 2008

    You don’t seem familiar with the issue, Barton, or rather, you seem familiar with it the way it’s been spun for decades. The fact is that a great many Palestinians were forced out in a process that included a fair number of massacres. And even the ones who fled on their own expected to be able to come back to their homes when the fighting was over, which is in fact a basic human right. They weren’t allowed to. The talk about Israelis begging the Palestinians to stay–yes, that happened in some cases, but it wasn’t the rule.

    Here’s an interview with Benny Morris–

    http://www.logosjournal.com/morris.htm

    As you can see, he’s not exactly pro-Palestinian. He’s actually quite cold-blooded.

    Here’s another interview with Shlomo Ben Ami, who was for a period of time the foreign minister under Barak. Scroll down a short bit and you can see for yourself his summary of what happened in 1948.

    http://www.democracynow.org/2006/2/14/fmr_israeli_foreign_minister_shlomo_ben

  52. #52 Donald Johnson
    February 7, 2008

    Something’s wrong with that link–it went to the wrong part of the interview (for reading about Shlomo Ben Ami’s view of 1948, that is). If you click back to the previous part of the interview you’ll see what I was talking about.

    I’d try linking it again, but I might just end up repeating my mistake.

    As for genocide (forgot to respond to that), ethnic cleansing is a step down from genocide. Forcing people out of their homes (along with massacres) is a very serious crime, but it’s not quite genocide. And a great many countries are guilty of ethnic cleansing at one point or another. My point is not that Israel is uniquely evil–probably most countries have major war crimes in their pasts. In the case of Israel, though, the nastier portions of its history have been whitewashed in the US for many years and so this leads to a distorted view of the I/P conflict, because we all hear about the Palestinian atrocities and the Palestinian desire to return to Israel (which would end the Jewish state) and we don’t hear the Palestinian side of the story.

    Of course in some countries (Arab ones especially) the distortion goes the other way. But two wrongs don’t make a right.

  53. #53 z
    February 7, 2008

    Yes, some Jews chased the Arabs out of town. And some Arabs left because they thought they were at risk. And some were right. And some were wrong. And some left because they thought they would return after the army had ethnically cleansed the nasty Jews. And some stayed despite the pressure of the Jews. And some stayed because their Jewish neighbors convinced them to stay. And some stayed because their Jewish neighbors protected them from other Jewish neighbors who wanted them out. There were millions of people there, fer crissake, that’s a lot of stories in the naked city. In Haifa, for instance, not only did the Jewish community beg the Arabic community to stay, they even opened the bakeries on Passover so that the Arab community would not go hungry. If you don’t know, that’s HUGE. Jews aren’t even supposed to own leavened products on Passover, even inadvertent crumbs in a crack in the kitchen. Not allowed to profit from it in any way, such as feeding it to neighbors. But then you don’t hear about that much strife in Haifa, even today; it’s the proverbial “gritty port city” and folks there are busy working.

    Anyway, on the other hand, it’s indisputable that every single Jew in the “West Bank” communities such as Nablus and Hebron and the Old City of Jerusalem, where Jews have lived continuously since Biblical times, was forced to leave. No exceptions, no being sheltered by the neighbors. Kind of what is planned for the West Bank when the Palestinians get their state.

    I mention this not in the interests of further “Your fault”, “No your fault” ‘dialogue’, but in order to squelch it. There really has been over the half century more than enough crap from either side that the concept of collective guilt vs the innocent injured party, is just another way to extend the killing and suffering for another generation. Assuming collective guilt had any validity in the first place, which is the ridiculous assumption that leads to this shit in the first place.

    In conclusion,I give you http://letters.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/02/05/terrorism/permalink/cad5f76de68900f5033628e1400d5a3a.html

    Does the quality of blog comments deteriorate?

    The following was seen on the web and is not necessarily a comment on this comments section; I did find it amusing however.

    ====

    Forget about MR and its superb commentators, I am talking about the typical above-average blogs. I often have the impression that the best comments come in the first fifteen or so, after which quality declines precipitously and often exponentially. Why might that be?

    1. The truly smart people only like to make smart points on “fresh” posts. For instance more people read the comments on fresh posts (but why?), so the benefit of a quality comment is lower as the post becomes older.

    2. As time passes, the chance that a warring twosome find each other, and take over the thread, increases.

    3. There is a tendency to attack or respond to the stupidest or most controversial thing said, and the longer the comments thread runs for, the stupider this will get.

    4. As the number of comments multiplies, so does the number of independent discussion threads and the optimal number of threads is exceeded.

    5. (Addended) As one (early) commentator notes below, the simple fact of diminishing marginal utility.

    Might some of these mechanisms also help explain why a) history of thought is “ghettoized” as a field, and b) there is such a high premium to working in hot, new fields? The general point is that there are increasing returns to scale for high quality discussions; furthermore those quality discussions are quite fragile and require cultivation and subsidization through norms. Freshness matters, so stale topics will indeed encounter discrimination.

    Comments are open, who wants to go first?

    ========

    But then, there is a certain universal law here as anyone married for ages will immediately see.
    :-)

    – bucky1

  54. #54 Anton Mates
    February 8, 2008

    Anyway, on the other hand, it’s indisputable that every single Jew in the “West Bank” communities such as Nablus and Hebron and the Old City of Jerusalem, where Jews have lived continuously since Biblical times, was forced to leave. No exceptions, no being sheltered by the neighbors. Kind of what is planned for the West Bank when the Palestinians get their state.

    Actually, at least in Hebron, it was the British that made the decision to move every Jew out; and in the earlier anti-Jewish rioting and massacres that led to that decision, quite a few Jewish families [i]were[/i] sheltered by Arab neighbors.

    Lots of stories in every city, as you say.

  55. #55 Donald Johnson
    February 8, 2008

    Z, you act like there’s someone here who doesn’t realize that the Arabs have committed their share of atrocities in the conflict. As for what happened in Haifa, I almost mentioned that myself, though I didn’t know all the details you provided. But you left out some details yourself. What I’ve read is that the Jewish civilians in Haifa wanted the Arabs to stay, but the Haganah military units forced them to leave. Anton pointed out that Arabs sheltered Jews from other Arabs in the Hebron pogrom in the 20′s, which I read about in Tom Segev’s book.

    Most of what I know about the conflict comes from reading Israelis, and as it happens, the ones I’ve read don’t sentimentalize either side in the conflict. I don’t know where you live, but in the US anyone who pays a small amount of attention to the conflict knows about the Arab atrocities and will have heard the story of how the Jewish residents of Haifa begged the Arabs not to leave. You are much less likely to hear the more discreditable stuff about what the Israelis did unless you look for it.

    As for collective guilt/innocence, of course it’s nonsense, but if you take that logic to its natural conclusion, you’d favor a one state solution. Why is it supposed to be shocking that Palestinians want to be able to return to their homes and why shouldn’t Jews be able to live on the West Bank? If you don’t think that’s practical, (and I gather it isn’t), then we have a situation where the Palestinians have gotten the short end of the stick.

    Your final comment about the degeneration of the thread was, of course, merely insulting. What we have here is a typical case of thread drift that occurs when people aren’t discussing the original topic. I hope you were including your own pompous contribution if you think the thread has gone downhill.

  56. #56 Barton Paul Levenson
    February 8, 2008

    One-state solution = destruction of Israel.
    Thinking the Israelis will ever agree to a one-state solution = mashuga in ganz.

  57. #57 dalazal
    February 8, 2008

    I was expecting to learn a little more about the new ORB poll.

    How did this become a discussion about Israel v. Palestinians?

  58. #58 Donald Johnson
    February 8, 2008

    Good point, dalazal, and as one of the participants in the thread drift, sorry about that. But there wasn’t that much ORB discussion here after a certain point.

    Barton–Just in case someone does want to discuss Iraq mortality rates, I’m going to abandon our argument/discussion here.

  59. #59 Will McLean
    February 8, 2008

    I gather Tim Lambert has asked ORB if they can explain why their claimed margin of error is consistent with a simple random sample but not a cluster sample. And they have not yet responded.

    While we’re waiting, I would like to repeat a question about Lancet II. Looking at their reported margin of error, it seems to me that the design effect for violent deaths is very similar to the design effect for total deaths. However, the distribution of violent deaths is much lumpier, so I would expect a greater design effect.

    Is it plausible to assume that they simply calculated a single design effect based on the variance in gross mortality, and used it for violent mortality as well?

    If so, would that underestimate the margin of error for violent deaths?

  60. #60 Peter Bjørn Perlsø
    February 14, 2008

    How about we use some solid, documented facts and now just extrapolation?

    Counter is between 81k and 86,5 K atm.

    Also, do read this:

    http://www.iraqbodycount.org/analysis/beyond/reality-checks/

    In the ineterst of fair use, I’ll let you read the above link yourself, but I will post the conclusion:

    “In the light of such extreme and improbable implications, a rational alternative conclusion to be considered is that the authors have drawn conclusions from unrepresentative data. In addition, totals of the magnitude generated by this study are unnecessary to brand the invasion and occupation of Iraq a human and strategic tragedy. ”

    And, yes, Iraq is a tragic quagmire, but you don’t need to use hyperbole to try to enforce your point. You are in fact doing the opposite.

  61. #61 Tim Lambert
    February 14, 2008

    Thanks Peter, but [I have read the IBC criticism](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2006/10/on_the_ibc_attack_on_the_lance.php).

    I’m glad you agree that the Lancet study is the opposite of hyperbole.

  62. #62 Peter Bjørn Perlsø
    February 15, 2008

    “I’m glad you agree that the Lancet study is the opposite of hyperbole.”

    Childish. I’ve said no such thing.

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