Counting the Dead in Syria

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.

Published in Israel Hayom, January 3, 2013.  Click for a printer-friendly copy.

See also my column The Magical ‘Peres Pill’ in today’s Jerusalem Post.

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

Brahimi adds that “if the war stays another year, we will not have 25,000 more, we will have 100,000 more killed.” That’s because since last February Bashar Assad has steadily unleashed ever-greater military firepower against his opponents, including tanks, heavy artillery, attack helicopters, fighter jets, and Scud missiles. Next could be chemical weapons.

Opposition groups that monitor the death toll say that this past Saturday, for example, 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 so 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 and/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 IDF soldier takes a swipe at a Palestinian protester with his rifle butt, but not so incensed when Syrian troops rape, massacre and torture tens of thousands of their own.

The world knows that Jewish home 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.

I’m just saying.

David M. Weinberg is a think tank director, columnist and lobbyist who is a sharp critic of Israel’s detractors and of post-Zionist trends in Israel. Read more »
A passionate speaker, David M. Weinberg lectures widely in Israel, the U.S. and Canada to Jewish and non-Jewish audiences. He speaks on international politics and Middle East strategic affairs, Israeli diplomacy and defense strategy, intelligence matters and more. Click here to book David Weinberg as a speaker

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