Thursday, January 3, 2013

Counting the Dead

by David M. Weinberg

The count of 60,000 people killed in Syria over the past 22 months is double the estimated casualty count of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the past 45 years.

Lakhdar Brahimi, the so-called U.N. and Arab League peace envoy to Syria, said this past weekend that 50,000 Syrians have been killed in the 22-month-old civil war in that country. U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay said on Wednesday that an “exhaustive” U.N. study showed that at least 60,000 people had died. Tens of thousands of others have been wounded in that gory, war-crime-filled civil war, and millions have been forced to flee their homes.

Brahimi said that "if the war stays another year, we will not have 25,000 more, we will have 100,000 more killed.” This is because since last February, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has steadily unleashed ever-greater military firepower against his opponents, including tanks, heavy artillery, attack helicopters, fighter jets and Scud missiles. Chemical weapons could be next. 

Opposition groups monitoring the death toll say that this past Saturday alone, as many as 400 people were killed — more than double what they call the "typical daily death toll." About half of them were civilians slain in an alleged mass killing carried out by government troops at a petrochemical university in central Syria.

This is obviously sad, scary, strategically dangerous and upsetting.

The figure of 60,000 dead is also a historic marker. Because 60,000 dead is double the estimated casualty count of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the past 45 years.

Add them all up over all the years of the “occupation”: combatants, civilians, and indirect casualties of conflict, on both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli divide. Add in all Palestinians killed by intra-Palestinian violence or executed by Hamas and Fatah as “collaborators.” Add in Israeli victims of Palestinian terror. Add them all up. And still, the total casualty count in Israeli-Palestinian conflict doesn’t hit half the number of Syrians slaughtered by other Syrians over the past two years.

Of course, the world is much more distraught about Palestinians in conflict than Syrians in conflict — because the Jews are involved in the first equation. The world is outraged when an Israeli soldier takes a swipe at a Palestinian protester with his rifle butt, but is not so incensed when Syrian troops rape, massacre and torture tens of thousands of their own. The world knows that Jewish housing construction is a threat to world peace requiring the Security Council's immediate attention, but feels no such sense of urgency when the slaughter in Syria threatens to spill over into Turkey, Jordan and Israel, or engulf the region in non-conventional warfare.

David M. Weinberg


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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