Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

An Israeli organization called Sikui, which has defined its mission as ensuring that Israel's Arabs have full social and economic equality, has published a report telling that the Arab lifespan in Israel is 4 years shorter than the life expectancy of the Jews.

So far, so bad. Another factoid proving that the Israelis are racists, and that Israel is an apartheid state etc. You know the mantra.

Except that like all narratives, and certainly statistical ones, the trick is all in how you frame the picture.

According to this fine website full of interesting comparative statistics, you could also frame the same statistics differently. Let's assume that life expectancy is the single most important objective indicator about the success of a society: if it enables its members to live longer, it gives them more time to do the right things in life and correct the wrong things. Well, out of 220 countries with data on life expectancy, Israel is number 21, with a life expectancy in 2007 of 79.59, for Jews and Arabs together. Since Sikui is comparing the Israeli Arabs to the Israeli Jews, i.e you need to take off the 20% of Arabs pulling down the statistic about Israel's Jews, let's say that the life expectancy of Israel's Jews is 80, which would put them at 15th place. The Israeli Arabs live four years less, which ranks them at 68th place in the world. Their life expectancy is a mere 4 months less than that of Argentina (ranked 62), and it's higher, among others, than Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Algeria, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Iraq.... you see where I'm going with this. If you want to be an Arab, and you want to live long, you'd best be born in Jordan, but if that doesn't work, the next two candidates are Libya and.... Israel.

There are other ways you could frame the same statistics, tho that useful website won't help: rather than look at a frozen moment in time, lacking all context, you might perhaps wish to seek the trends: where are we coming from and in what direction are we going? I wrote about this briefly in Right to Exist, after I dug up some comparative statistics of Jews vs. Arabs in Mandatory Palestine in the 1940s, before the State of Israel was created. What I found there was that the difference between life expectancy of Jews and Arabs under the British was vast, but that ever since Israel took responsibility for its Arab citizens the gap has been closing. It's still not gone, but the trend is positive.

All of which raises the question as to the root causes of the lower life expectancy of Israel's Arabs compared to her Jews: is it because of racism apartheid and general nastiness, or is it perhaps a case of Israel's Jews doing their best to pull Israel's Arabs out of the Arab inability to make the most of the modern world, an attempt which is only partially successful?

Before finishing this post, you might want to notice that the weighted average for the entire world's population is 68.4 years. Israel, of course, is way above that, Jews and Arabs, but guess who else is above the all-humanity average: the West Bank (73.46 years), and, believe it or not, the Gaza Strip, where the life expectancy is 72.16, or more than 4 years longer than the average of all humanity. Do you think it's conceivable that perhaps the Gaza strip isn't the worst place on the globe? Just perhaps?


Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

What a load of self-flattering and victim-blaming. All that goes well is Israel's merit; all that goes wrong is the Arabs' fault.

Poor Israel, it tries hard to increase the Arabs' life expectancy, but as usual, they don't miss the opportunity to miss yet another opportunity.

The embarrassing detail, though, is that Jordan has managed to provide its Arabs with 2.1 more years of life expectancy than Israel. And we're talking an Arab country with no oil and a per capita income vastly smaller than Israel's. So much for that bovine excrement of "Israel's Jews doing their best to pull Israel's Arabs out of the Arab inability to make the most of the modern world," which is a clearly racist statement.

Also, you set up the straw man of comparing Israel's Arabs to Saudi Arabs, not to Israel's Jews, which betrays your inner feeling that the Arabs of Israel are somehow not citizens of Israel, but alien citizens who have wickedly managed to sneak into the Light Unto the Nations.

Finally, Israeli apartheid is not based on statistics (although it is confirmed by these). It's based on the reality of a country that doesn't want Jews to mingle with Arabs. See here for a video of how Jewish schoolgirls are taught not to date Bedouins on the grounds that it would be "sleeping with the enemy," even when the Bedouins faithfully serve in the IDF! Nauseating, though by no means surprising.

Anonymous said...


Or, as Darwin would say, the "arabs aren't the fittest to survive." Not that I care.

Israel has arabs because, guess what? arabs were living there, even when the ground didn't produce much vegetation. They just lived in dusty villages.

Of course, Europe had anti-Semitism running riot; and progroms. So even if it was done reluctantly, Jews were willing to leave their shtetls behind. And, some ventured to what was called palestine. Though after the Turks lost their Ottoman Empire; the Brits came in. (And, they, too, had "stiff upper lip" racism.")

While Jews kept coming. (The lucky ones, did.) And, they made the desert bloom.

If "statistically speaking" this also leads to a longer life, how nice.

On the other hand, how useless these statistics really are.

Now, it wasn't so long ago that women died in childbirth. And, children, before the age of two, met life with the challange of having to survive.

Jews have also contributed to the modern world, in science. Math. And, medicine, too.

Ya know, I could guess that the koran, itself, inhibits those who adhere to this belief system; but then, again, who am I to judge? Since the truth is, I don't care.

I don't think Jews have to turn a blind eye to the hatred that flows out of anti-Semitism. Even though the Europeans had defined these behaviors to such a high "art form" 6-million people went to their deaths without having the tools to use to fight back. Just legs on which to run. So we talk about the survivors who used their legs to run out.

Cheery, isn't it. You can find people who can keep the statistics flowing, as good as hitler.

Oh, Ya'acov, picking the "worst place on the globe" is on par with picking out the ugliest woman in the world. So, sure. Gazoo is probably "less violent" than Darfur.

While Lebanon's suffering comes from all the hashish that grows in the Ba'Kakta Valley. Shows ya; just having a Green Thumb doesn't give ya constructive farming!

As to "the statistics," they can use them for counting up all the angels on the head of a pin. Why forget what the Mother Church could do?

Anonymous said...


And, now, one day later, in more news; it turns out Iran photoshopped their missile's launch, to cover for one of the missiles not firing, at all. So they moved the picture over, one.

One plus one didn't equal two.

And, the Internet, starting at Drudge, today, points this out.

Of course, the major media remains clueless. While the NY Times is NOT reporting the recent downgrade to its stock. For those who put money there? They're losing money.

Of course, the media's never had to do college level math, to gain an academic credential. How like religion, these idiots, have become.

By the way, I'm not out to change anyone's opinion. We've got more than 6-billion people on this earth! Opinions abound.

Some people get good at digesting how "fake news" works. And, how anti-Semitism, for instance, isn't as scarey as it once was.

Wanna know what I think? Believing in falsehoods is like doing math with numbers that don't compute. And, yes. You're more than entitled to do that.