I often can’t read Thomas Friedman, the youngish-looking New York Times journalist who won a trifecta of Pulitzers, because his simple prose can be boring even though he has these waves of brilliance that are quite efficacious. But when simple prose turns into superficial intellect, my pen vibrates with anger. Honestly, Thomas Friedman should change his weed.
His June 25 commentary entitled “War, Timeout, War, Time …” brought the Syrian in me. In it, he equates Israeli actions the last 3 wars (i.e. Arafat, Hezbollah, and Hamas) to what Hafez and Rifaat al-Assad did to Hama in February of 1982.
Hama started with about 200 Muslim Brotherhood extremists who, armed with automatic weapons, occupied and closed down the city in preparation for a confrontation with Assad. Does that sound familiar? Maybe Hamas occupying Gaza to confront Israel?
We all know what Israel did. It waited for 4,000 rockets to rain on Sderot and Ashkelon before taking any step to confront an armed extremist group bent on its destruction. In wars, we can question premeditated action but not if sporadic and certainly not if unintentional.
Alternatively, the premeditated actions of Assad upon the Islamists occupying the city, was to surround the city with heavy artillery, used in open battlefields, and unleash it without interruption with an average of one artillery bombshell landing every 20 seconds. After two weeks, some 20,000 lay dead with surreal destruction of the city.
Of the 20,000 dead, almost all were civilians who feared the Islamists as much as Assad did. How do I know this? I had three secular relatives who died in Hama at the hands of our unaccountable president for life and his sadistic brother.
Comparing these acts of genocide by documented ruthless and murderous dictators to Israel’s campaign of precision against Hezbollah and Hamas is nothing short of a luscious trip of self-aggrandizement.
DO THE MATH, STUPID!
Further, do the math with me. What percentage of civilians died in Gaza vs. the percentage of civilians who died in Hama?
According to the IDF, 1,166 people died in Gaza of which 457 were civilians.
According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, 1,434 died of which 960 were civilians.
Even if the truth lies in-between at 709 civilians with 1,300 in total who died during the campaign, the ratio of killed civilians to actual combatants in Gaza is 54.5%. In Hama, the ratio of dead civilians to combatants is 10,000%.
Hama’s population in 1982 was 350,000 inhabitants. Assad killed in total 5.7% of the population. In Gaza, the ratio of people who died to the total number of inhabitants is %0.000867. That’s less than one person for every 10,000 people.
There is no excuse for the killing of civilians no matter the cause. But when the “Hama rules” intended to kill indiscriminately as many civilians as possible in the most inhuman fashion is compared to Israel’s defense of its own citizens with as little damage as possible, then it’s time for Thomas Friedman to change his weed or take a course in finance and statistics.