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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Slate magazine has a backgrounder on why people find Gal Gadot's Jewishness and/or Israeli citizenship so upsetting to some.

While the article isn't so bad on balance, it includes this little tidbit.
Gadot’s origins landed in headlines this week when Lebanon banned the film from theaters just days before it was scheduled to premiere. The movie had passed the country’s usual guidelines, but pressure from the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel–Lebanon prompted the government to pull its approval at the last minute. (Gadot’s IDF service overlapped with the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, which resulted in, according to Human Rights Watch, “at least 1,109 Lebanese deaths, the vast majority of whom were civilians, 4,399 injured, and an estimated 1 million displaced.”)

When one looks at the link to the HRW report, which pretends to be a comprehensive study of deaths in the Lebanon war, here is its entire research that concluded that the "vast majority" of deaths in that war were civilian:

During the course of five months of research in Lebanon and Israel, Human Rights Watch investigated in depth the deaths of over 561 persons during Israeli air and groundstrikes, and collected information about an additional 548 deaths, thus accounting for a total number of 1,109 deaths (approximately 860 civilians and approximately 250 combatants[196]) from the 34-day conflict. Our research is the most comprehensive available documenting how, and why, civilians died during the conflict.
That footnote 196 points to an AP article from December 2006, which said:
Both sides have revised their figures of Lebanon's war dead. The latest Lebanese and AP counts include 250 Hezbollah fighters that the group's leaders now say died during Israel's intense air, ground and sea bombardments in Lebanon -- more than triple the 70 they acknowledged during the war. Israel initially said 800 Hezbollah fighters died but later lowered that estimate to 600.

HRW ignored Israel's estimate and fully embraced Hezbollah's estimate even though everyone knows that Hezbollah lied in claiming initially that the number of fighters killed was only 70. Yet HRW and AP were not the least bit skeptical about its "revised" estimate of 250.

Which figure is closest to being accurate?

The UN itself, hardly a pro-Israel observer, said Israel's numbers are closer to the truth as early as August 2006:
UN officials believe that Hizbollah will not want to reignite the conflict, at least for a while. The organisation's culture of secrecy has disguised the true number of its casualties - funerals of "martyrs" are being staggered to soften the impact of the losses. Some were interred without ceremony for re-burial later. A UN official estimated the deaths at 500, 10 per cent of the force Hizbollah is thought to muster, not all of whom are front-line fighters.
There's a very big difference between claiming that some 77% of the dead were civilian and the truth that the percentage is around 50%.

Here's an example of how Human Rights Watch parroted Hezbollah propaganda, and yet its report is considered so accurate over ten years later as to be quoted uncritically.

Of course, HRW would never revise its report, because fact-checking is not what that organization is about: it wants to inflate civilian casualties to pump up its own importance, so it will accept whatever numbers that would increase its fundraising efforts.

(h/t Yoel)




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