Amiram Goldblum’s Numbers Don’t Add Up

In a Nov. 6 Haaretz Op-Ed, Amiram Goldblum cites a string of statistics to argue that Yitzhak Rabin’s diplomacy led to a dip in Palestinian violence (“We Neither Forgive nor Forget“):

The Rabin government, which came to power in July 1992, brought about a dramatic drop in terror attacks. In 1991, under the Shamir government, 105 people were killed in terror attacks. In 1992 the number was down to 31 (eight after Rabin’s government took office), and in 1993, before the Oslo Accords were signed, 26 were killed.

Significantly, though, the figures that Goldblum cites do not at all correspond to those of either Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs or B’Tselem. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs lists 21 Israelis killed in terror attacks during 1991, falling far short of the 105 people cited by Goldblum. Moreover, the MFA’s numbers for subsequent years reflect an increase in Israeli fatalities during Rabin’s tenure – 34 in 1992 and 45 in 1993 – not the decrease that Goldblum claims. Perhaps the disparity between Goldblum’s figures versus those of the MFA is due to the fact that Goldblum cites “105 people . . . killed in terror attacks,” possibly counting also Palestinians, including assailants.
According to B’Tselem, 19 Israelis were killed in 1991, along with 104 Palestinians. B’Tselem’s figures, which we have criticized in the past for not identifying Palestinian assailants listed among Palestinian “civilian” fatalities, include all those killed in Israel and the disputed territories, civilians and security personnel. B’Tselem’s total number of both Palestinians and Israelis killed in 1991 (123) also does not match up to Goldblum’s figure (105 people), although the inclusion of Palestinians (including attackers) brings the number significantly closer to Goldblum’s.
However, if Goldblum was indeed counting both Palestinian (including assailants) and Israeli fatalities in 1991, he should have been consistent and done the same as well for the subsequent years. Yet, B’Tselem’s data shows that the combined Palestinian and Israeli fatalities for 1992 and 1993 far exceed the number which Goldblum provides. According to B’Tselem, in 1992, 34 Israelis and 138 Palestinians, or 172 people, were killed, more than five times the figure cited by Goldblum. In 1993, B’Tselem lists 42 Israelis and 138 Palestinians, or 180 people, killed up until the signing of the Oslo Accords, far more than the 25 cited by Goldblum.
While Goldblum is entitled to his political views, no matter how apparently untethered from published data, Haaretz has an obligation to either substantiate material that appears in its pages, or correct.
(Hat tip: Uria Kenig)
After Twitter users engaged in an exchange with Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken Nov. 17 regarding Goldblum’s still unsubstantiated figures, editors amended the Hebrew version of Goldblum’s article. The amended Hebrew version adds that 75 of the 105 “killed in terror attacks” in 1991 under Shamir’s tenure were actually fatalities from incidents related to Iraqi scud missile attacks (such as those who suffered fatal heart attacks).
CAMERA contacted editors of the English edition to request that the added information also be included in the English edition. Editors promptly amended the English edition to include the 75 reported Scud-related deaths. The article currently states:

The Rabin government, which came to power in July 1992, brought about a dramatic drop in terror attacks. In 1991, under the Shamir government, 105 people were killed in terror attacks. (This figure includes 75 people who died under various circumstances as a result of rocket attacks against Israel during the Gulf War and were recognized as ‘victims of enemy activity.’ In my opinion, they were victims of the political tough line of the Israel government toward the Palestinians, like the other victims).

The 75 fatalities related to Iraqi scud attacks, plus MFA’s higher end figure of 21 killed in Palestinian attacks, totals 96, fatalities, which still doesn’t match Goldblum’s figure of 105, but he is getting closer.
English edition editors commendably added a note to the bottom of the article acknowledging that the article was amended on Nov. 20.
For additional Haaretz corrections prompted by CAMERA and Presspectiva, CAMERA’s Hebrew website, please see here.

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