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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Rudoren to the Rescue on Civilian Toll

UPDATE Today's update from UN's OCHA, includes sad word on more women and children found in rubble. This ups estimate of known civilians to 86% of the total where a determination has been made. 415 kids and 214 women.  And: "At least 373,000 children require direct and specialized psychosocial support."

Good analysis of serious shortcomings in the Rudoren piece at Just Security. 

Earlier:  What a shock:  NYT Jerusalem bureau chief finally journeys to Gaza--to promote Israeli claims that the civlian toll is much lower than everyone else has it.  Of course, it's the top story on the Times' site now--and on their front-page in print-- even with her record of taking ultra-seriously false Israeli claims at face value (such as attacks on schools and captured soldier).  Note that early on she cites "impressive documentation" of one pro-Israeli group---based on just 152 casualties.

"Palestinians and their supporters contend...."  No, it's the UN and such groups, not just the Palestinians.   Her idea of balance:  Palestinians claim there was indiscriminate fire killing whole families, but:  "Israel has published extensive video images of warplanes aborting missions to avoid collateral damage, and provided summaries of warnings it gave residents before attacking buildings." Rudoren concludes that "perhaps" a majority were civilians (apparently far less than than 72% to 82% figures provided by all others, except the Israelis).

But the difference between roughly half the dead being combatants, in the Israeli version, or barely 10 percent, to use the most stark numbers on the other side, is wide enough to change the characterization of the conflict.
First the "other side" is the UN.  And they do not claim 10% but 28%. Finally, her claim that if the world would only accept the Israeli tally of just half being civilians then this will change common view of the tragedy--which is straight stenography.

Then we see that she highlights the claim that most of the men between 20 and 29 might quite likely be Hamas fighters, which is ludicrous.  She wonders why men of that age seem to be "over-represented" in the death counts.  Well, could it be that they make up the vast majority of people who are out in the streets gathering the dead and injured, digging in the rubble, rushing for home supplies who then fall victim to Israeli strikes--not to mention the many medics, ambulances drivers, even a dozen journalists, killed?  She also points to claims that anyone who is merely "affiliated" with Hamas--which, after all, is the elected government and runs the ministries and daily services--might be considered combatant.  And to top it off:  She suggests that deaths by "domestic violence" might be part of the 1850 toll.

Apart for this, all one has to do is read the latest accounts today from reporters and others finally getting a good look around today in Gaza to recognize how twisted and stenographic Rudoren's account stands.   (From UNWRA's spokesman: "Entire neighborhoods have turned into ghost towns, covered in rubble and the smell of decomposing bodies.") Somehow she thinks if the world accepted a somewhat lower death count then views of the Israeli air campaign would surely change.  We would have to also overlook that 9000 or more injured--a good number now without limbs, and thousands of kids--and those vast neighborboods, economy and infrastructure wiped out.  Her attempts to minimize show how truly under the sway of the Israelis she remains.   The joke of the week is that they ever thought they had to censor her at all.   


Michael Balter said...

Good post, Greg. Her main failing in my mind is never putting figures in context of international law on war crimes. Even if "only" 53% of deaths were civilians instead of 75% that still amounts to a massive war crime.

Anonymous said...

Given that Israelis are up to their eyeballs in incitement to genocide (even coming from top government officials) and given that Israeli actions are clearly acts of genocide, at what point do apologists and cover-up artists like Rudoren qualify for prosecution under the Convention on genocide?

Would covering up the crime make her complicit in genocide, or would that fit under the incitement section of Article 3?