Sunday, November 13, 2022



Someone named Laith Hanbali, of Al-Shabaka -The Palestinian Policy Network, tweeted  "Israel arrested 690 Palestinians in October. That's about 1 Palestinian arrested every hour for a whole month!"

Sounds awful, doesn't it? Over a 1300 people thought so.

This is where it is important to discuss innumeracy - mathematical illiteracy. Seemingly, most people cannot look at this statistic critically to realize how deceptive it is. 

Let's start with another Palestinian source, Muetta, a Palestinian think tank that issues monthly statistics on "acts of resistance." They count 1,999 such acts in October. Some of them are vague like "resisting settler attacks" which could mean anything, but nearly a thousand of the events listed are potentially deadly - shootings, firebombs, stabbings, car rammings, stone throwing. 

By their own count, Israel didn't arrest close to the number of Palestinians who were engaged in violent acts. And that number has increased a great deal this year.

Are 690 arrests a huge number compared to the number of attacks? Clearly not. If anything, this proves that Israeli arrests aren't arbitrary, and if anything they are not aggressive enough given the number of violent acts aimed towards the IDF and ordinary Israelis. 

Given the number of Palestinians, is 690 arrests excessive? On the contrary. The number looks positively puny compared to the number of arrests in large American cities with comparable populations.

There are about 4.7 million Palestinians in the territories, about 2.7 million in the West Bank. This is more than in the city limits of Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia. But in October, in Philadelphia (1.6 million people), police arrested 1858 people, a rate roughly 5 times the arrest rate of Palestinians in the West Bank per million.

Sounds bad? Just wait.

Chicago arrested over 13,000 people - over 18 every hour - during October.

That's nothing compared to Houston, with over 40,000 arrests in September(the most recent month with statistics.) That's  56 people every hour!

Is 690 arrests in a month really that bad?  That is about the number of October arrests in Chattanooga, TN (pop. 182,000.) 

What about cities outside the United States? Maybe it is the US that is the anomaly?

Nope. In October, the London police arrested 11,263 people. In fact, they arrested 988 minors! 

Just imagine the outcry if Israel arrested 1000 Palestinian minors every month!

(London has nearly 9 million people, but even if you cut that number by 75% to match only the West Bank, it still dwarfs the number of arrests done by Israel.)

Without context, statistics are meaningless. Which is why anti-Israel activists never, ever compare Israel to anyone else.

Because it would make them look like idiots.




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