Saturday, January 9, 2010

10,000 Detained Palestinians Every Month

Alice Rothchild at Mondoweiss has a report which is so totally dishonest I wouldn't know where to start disproving it. Or rather, I could imagine how to do it but lack the time and the inclination; it's not as if anything I might say could change her mind.

There is however one little nugget that's worth recording, because it's part of a new trope we're going to be hearing a lot of.
Ala Joradat, the program manager of Adameer, a Palestinian human rights organization that focuses primarily on prisoners, legal aid, and monitoring, meets with our delegation and tries to unravel the complex civil and human rights issues that face Palestinians, particularly those who choose to protest the conditions of the Israeli occupation. He explains that the prisoners are both a product of the conflict and a cause for the conflict. Since 1967, 800,000 Palestinians have experienced detention, representing more than 53% of the population over 18. Because mostly Palestinian males are targeted for arrest, 60-70% of adult males have been to prison.
This is an interesting number, because back in September 2009, when the Goldstone Report trotted out the number of detained Palestinians, it was 750,000. I wrote about this in my analysis of the Goldstone Report, and explained why it was wrong. What we're now being requested to believe is that since late summer 2009, Israel has arrested an additional 50,000 Palestinians, or 10,000 each month, that's 333 daily, every day with no respite.

This is a flat lie. It's also so blatant as to be ridiculous, childish, even. What does it tell you about educated and seemingly intelligent adults who believe in and disseminate extravagant lies about Jews? Isn't there a name for them?

Just in case you wish to see some real numbers, B'Tselem has them. And note: the numbers are not cumulative. Most of the incarcerated are the same people, in for long periods. They include murderers, car thieves, and anything in between.


NormanF said...

There's not enough space in Israeli prisons for 800,000 Palestinians since 1967. The figure is so absurd you would think intelligent people would realize its nonsense. But if you can sell a lie the first time, an exaggeration seems more plausible later.

Which is exactly what has happened.

Empress Trudy said...

Can't anyone be held legally for propagating a lie?

Avigdor said...

Can't anyone be held legally for propagating a lie?

In the UK, maybe. In Israel, no.

What's interesting is that you if you look at the numbers from 2001 through 2009, you can see the total Palestinian prisoner population started off around 700 prior to the second intifada, and climbed dramatically through 2006 into the 9000 range. It has since dropped to the 6000s.

Barry Meislin said...

Ah, but these paragons of virtue are lying for a higher cause.

(False but accurate, etc., etc....)

Anonymous said...

can't one of Israel's civil servants, slandered by this Alice in Horrorland, sue her for ruining his very personal reputation? (RufMord)

but probably this number can be conjured up by for example counting everybody in whose ID has been checked and thus had to be "detained" for a moment or two or who had to pass a check-point and wait there in "custody".
i.e. one probably never catches those evil nutty ones on the facts no matter how contrary to common sense they are even at first glance
- unless ??? one could find a real talented and unrelenting anchor to make her demonstrate her numbers with an old-fashioned blackboard - no flashing graphics, no other fancy stuff just no nonsense adding up of figures on first school-year-level.
- no it's hopeless, after that the public would see her as a victim ... how the anchor "tortured" this honest girl ...

only a powerful counter-narrative might help but that would mean playing as fast and loose with the facts as them Alices do ...

Lee Ratner said...

The problem is that Israel is such a polarizing issue is that Israel's enemies will not believe statistics if they come from Israel. While Israel's supporters will trust those statistics.

Yaacov said...


As a general statement you're right, of course, but in this case the lie is so outlandish it requires a willful effort to be able to swallow it.The numbers of Palestinian detainees has been at the center of discussion between Israel and the PA since 1993. Anyone with a rudimentary interest in the "peace process" would have been unable to overlook it, and would, by necessity, have to know roughly how many incarcerated Palestinians there were at any given moment. I have not gone looking for the 42-year statistics, but in looking back as far as I've cared to notice, I doubt the number of individual Palestinians incarcerated reaches 75,000, or 10% of the lie fed to the Goldstone team, and it may be less than half of that. If you then discount people who really should have been in prison irrespective of the national struggle (car thieves etc), the number sinks further.

People who insist on disbelieving the facts because they're polarized are not being rational. Their statements are fantasy, and they need to be recognized as such.

Avigdor said...

Yaacov, what's the number of Palestinians who, having committed violent crimes - like attempted murder - did not serve out their full sentence, but were released for political reasons?

Releasing such people is a fact everyone seems to be more or less comfortable with, especially Israel's "staunchest" allies.

rashkov said...

Joradat doesn't claim to be working from the same numbers as the Goldstone commission (or does she?). No two sources ever have the same numbers, and the pro-Palestinian side is not so monolithic as to have their numbers agree. So while I agree that the numbers are probably bogus anyway (I will enjoy reading your analysis of the Goldstone numbers), it is not correct to say that they are implying 10,000 Palestinians detained per month.

Anonymous said...

as to different numbers:
yesterday I listened to a Mark A. Drumbl on child soldiers and learnt that a child soldier stops being a child at the age of 15.

According to UNRWA one stops being a child at 18 and according to one of the commenters here, the "normal" UN has still other age limits. (could it be that wielding a machine gun matures a child faster than throwing stones does??? ;-(((

With all these standards being applied according to the whim of whoever is proclaining/pontificating I think Dr. Lozowick has the right on his side when he reads ridiculous figures in any way that suits him and gives perspective.
Anything else would be acting like the novelist who doesn't permit a reader to dislike his book unless he has first read all his oeuvre, a point of view some journalists like to make also btw.


Yaacov said...

Victor -

Interesting question. The number of Palestinians set free early since the Gibril prisoner exchange in May 1985 is probably on the magnitude of 10-15,000, though that's just off the top of my head. I don't know the number who were sentenced, served their terms and were let out.

Rashkov - Actually, I read somewhere that the Goldstone gang took their number from Adameer, i.e.the same source, so the added 50,000 are precisely as ridiculous as they sound. Anyway, even if not, and there are dozens of diferent Palestinians sources for this, if they're all ostensibly reporting on the same facts, all their numbers ought to be similar, no? After all, the numbers of prisoners are a matter of hard facts, not literary sensibilites or poetic license. Or so you'd think.

rashkov said...

Excellent point. Thanks for your continued posts.