Sunday, May 22, 2005

Joint Respect & Btselem

Shavua Tov KIC readers!
Nice to read this morning that Prof. Sari Nusseibeh, the Head of al-Quds University in East Jerusalem has united with the Hebrew University to denounce the AUT (UK) boycott of Israeli universities. The joint statement said: "Our position is based upon the belief that it is through cooperation based on mutual respect, rather than boycotts or discrimination, that our common goals can be achieved". How refreshing!

On the other hand, Israeli Human Rights Organization "Btselem" continues to leave me feeling frustrated and seems to have the opposite approach to peace-making. I am all for the important role that they play but I can not fathom their apparent bias against Israel through its statistics. I have written to them without reply... that is, until recently when they did reply.

I'm pasting the correspondence below and would like to hear some thoughts from you.

As for Eurovision, it was always going to be a tough one! European callers are not the biggest Israel fans right now I'd imagine. And yet, France gave Israel 10 points!

See the Btselem correspondence below...

RE: Btselem Statistics
Wed, 4 May 2005 16:16:50 +0200
"Sarit Michaeli"


I'm not completely sure I understand the question, so will answer it based on ths assumption that you are asking why we do not divide, in our lists, the Palestinian casualties into combatants and civilians. If this is wrong, please explain your question further, and I will try to do as best I can.

You are indeed right in implying the division between combatants and civilians - this is an essential and fundamental part of International Humanitarian Law. And when viewing Israel, the distinction is very clear and obvious: members of the security services, and civilians. We used to use a similar classification when counting Palsetinian casualties, but at the moment, this classification is meaningless - very soon into the intifada, Palestinian police stopped being relevant in terms of the combat, and most Pal. militants are not members of the Pal security forces. Furthermore, International law only recognises 2 options: either combatant or civilian, but the status of Pal militants is vague - Israel doesn't consider them combatants, and hasn't ratified the Geneva Convention Protocol of 77 relating to Combatants in a national liberation struggle. So as you can see, the situation is complex.
At any rate, the most meaningful way we can describe and categorise Pal. casualties at this point in time, is whether they've participated in fighting when they were killed, or did not. Thiough not perfect, I'm sure you'll agree it is better than non-classification.
Now, one more thing - this is the case for listings in Hebrew, where we have put up the entire named list. We are still working to put up the full list in English, therefore it is only available by numbers for the time being. I very much hope we will be able to provide the full list in the coming weeks.

I hope this answers your question -
Sarit Michaeli - B'Tselem Press/PR+972 2 6735599 (office)+972 50 5387230 (cell)

From: Keeping It Current []

Posted At: Monday, April 18, 2005 3:53 PMPosted To: MailConversation: Btselem StatisticsSubject: Btselem Statistics

Can you explain why your organisation includes different categories of fatalities/casualities in the current intifada - all categories that is except "Palestinian combatants killed by Israelis" nor "Palestinian terrorists who killed themselves while attacking Israelis".

The non-existence of these two categories on your website calls your objectivity and important work into question. As an educator on the Intifada and the like, I can not understand this eye-catching omission from your statistics.

I would apprecaite a reply with explanation.

Thank you

1 comment:

Gavriel said...

The murky definition of Palestinian security, as opposed to the close cousin, terrorists, has troubled me too. You might be interested in Top 10 Signs it's Time to Retire from P.A. Security, an admittedly less-serious look at a serious problem. Nice post.