Sunday, April 29, 2012

MJ Rosenberg Lies About Statistics

There's the old expression "lies, damn lies, and statistics," and in his latest blog post, MJ Rosenberg uses all three. Most of the blog post is about the Israeli government "suppressing" negative stories about Israel, with of course the evidence being the not at all suppressed 60 Minutes story. But I'm less interested in the media aspect and more in how Rosenberg, like Simon of 60 Minutes, uses statistics to lie about Israel's treatment of Christians.

Let's take a look at how Rosenberg makes his case that Israel hates Christians:
"It [the 60 Minutes story] was a powerful segment which revealed that the Christian population has diminished dramatically in recent years as Palestinians left for other countries. The exodus is not the result of Israeli policies that specifically target Christians and drive them from the place Christianity began.
It is rather the oppressive policies toward Palestinians in general -- policies that do not distinguish between Palestinian Muslims and Palestinian Christians -- that have caused the Christian population to drop so dramatically. (In 1967 Christians constituted 5 percent of Jerusalem's population; today Christians constitute just 1.5 percent. Bethlehem, not long ago an overwhelmingly Christian city, is now hardly Christian at all).
None of this should be a surprise, given the incessant growth of Israeli settlements and the construction of the separation wall which, between them, have caused Palestinians of all persuasions to live literally between a rock and a hard place."

So Rosenberg makes the case that Christians are leaving the West Bank because of Israel's "oppressive policies towards the Palestinians," not because Israel is targeting Christians. In that case, how does he explain this graph?

This graph shows that the population of the West Bank, which is almost entirely Palestinian Arab, has done nothing but increase since 1967. This is not buried information, it did not take me very long to find it.

But the reason why Rosenberg didn't mention it is because it proves him wrong. If Israel's "oppressive" policies towards Palestinians in general are not causing Palestinians to leave the West Bank, but Christians are leaving the West Bank, then basic logic dictates that something other than Israel's policies are causing Christians to leave. Unless Israel's policies specifically target Christians, and Rosenberg just said that they didn't.

Why tell the truth about Israel, though, when the lie lets you bash Israel, maintain your tired refrain about the Israel lobby, and get another blog post in the Huffington Post?

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