Sunday, January 11, 2009

Junk Analysis


Junk analysis is like junk food. Convenient, ready-made, full of crap, bad for you but feels really satisfying at the moment of consumption, and with a huge price - most of which is not apparent for years. Get your portion in Lurker's post directly below.

In 2006 Hamas won 40% of the overall vote. Contrary to Lurker's (unsubstantiated) assertions, they did not win 90% of the vote in Gaza. That figure was around 65%. My source - The Jerusalem Post. Two things would seem to follow. Firstly, Lurker failed to do even the most basic research. Secondly, the plucking of the figure of 90% from the air (and Lurker repeats the figure in the comments section) must be invention to serve a purpose.

Moreover, the contention that people vote for a party for one reason only is patent nonsense. This blog recently hosted lively debate about Obama's victory. Those voting for him did so for a variety of reasons. Those voting for McCain did so for a variety of reasons. Elections demand that voters make choices, not simply between candidates, but between the voters' own priorities. We all know that and it was no different for the Palestinians in 2006. They themselves said so:
"Today was a great day for Palestine," said Mustafa Barghouti of the Palestinian National Initiative, a democratic opposition movement. "Mostly, they were voting for opposition and voting against Fatah -- against corruption, against nepotism, against the failure of the peace process, and against the lack of leadership."
Note that there isn't anything here - from a Palestinian supporting the Hamas victory - about firing rockets. That isn't to say rockets weren't part of the agenda; just that they weren't the only thing on the agenda.

But the junkiest thing of all in Lurker's analysis is the pretence that things have not moved on. That's what happens - partys' standings move depending on how the electorate perceive them as doing. Within 6 months of the elections, Hamas standings were falling (you will note that these are sources Lurker would accept). Less than a year ago Hamas were polling 40% in Gaza - and that was an improvement from earlier. Support from the young and the secular was way below that figure. This is less than half Lurker's claimed figure - and a drop of 33% since the election. That position has remained essentially unchanged until now (although there are no results from the last 2 weeks and one must be pessimistic thereafter).

So, if we believe we bomb them on the basis that only 9% of Gazans want peace, that is a lie, invented because it fits. There is no 'Jewish compassion' in a lie.

There is some common ground - I agree with Lurker right up until the paragraph starting 'DB tells us...'. From then on, it's junk analysis. What is behind it is the need to dispel guilt. Lurker is now retreating from the position that we need only ask how Israelis feel. That's a good thing. But to invent some statistic to suggest that we need feel no guilt because Gaza wants this is no answer. Not only is it untrue, but it utterly ignores the children. Largely because Hamas use human shields, children are suffering disproportionately in Gaza. They don't vote. To suggest that it is their parents problem is ok only if you lack all human feeling. Hamas certainly bear responsibility, but that does not mean that we should feel cosy about what's happening or pretend that we can do nothing about it.

I suggest that the way in which we dispel the guilt is to look for a solution to the issue. It may not make the deaths 'worthwhile'. But it might mean they are not for nothing. And that means stopping pretending that 90% hate us, when they clearly don't. It means land for peace. That solution is the one that this sort of invented statistic and junk analysis is intended to avoid. It doesn't work.
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