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Thursday, March 22, 2007


There's something about numbers . . .


by Aaron Levitt

Jerusalem-region Palestinian villages depopulated (and in most cases completely razed) in '47/'48:
There's something about numbers and abstractions that makes us lose our minds.
'Allar, founded < 1596 CE, pop 440, Muslim
Everybody says that the Nazis killed six million Jews, but nobody really kills "six million" of anything.
'Artuf, founded < 1596 CE, pop 350, Muslim
People always die one at a time, each one alone and afraid.
'Ayn Karim, founded 2nd mill. BCE, pop 3180, Mus/Chris
And we talk about 700,000 Palestinians driven or fled from Israel.
Bayt 'Itab, 4th century CE, 540, Muslim
But it was really one person, 700,000 times.
Bayt Mahsir, < late 19th century CE, 2400, Muslim
Or maybe one family, 100,000 times.
Bayt Naqqubu, < late 19th, 240, Muslim
If I said that I kicked my neighbor out of her house
Bayt Thul, < 1596 CE, 260, Muslim
and took it for myself, because I couldn't live
Bayt Umm al-Mays, <= crusade period, 70, Muslim
a fully Jewish life otherwise,
al-Burayj, unknown, 720, Muslim & Christian
everyone would agree that I was a criminal,
Dayr Aban, Roman period, 2100, Muslim & Christian
or simply crazy.
Dayr al-Hawa, unknown, 60, Muslim & Christian
And if I and three of my friends took houses away from
Dayr Rafat, unknown, 430, Muslim & Christian
four other people,
Dayr al-Shayk, < 1596 CE, 220, Muslim & Christian
the reaction would be just the same.
Dayr Yassin, < 1596 CE, 610, Muslim
Somehow, though, when the numbers get big enough,
Ishwa, < 18th CE, 620, Muslim
something changes, and things we all know are simply wrong
'Islin, < 1596 CE, 260, Muslim
become gray areas. Sophistry and self-justification
Ism Allah, unknown, 20, Muslim
wash over people's lives, and hopes, and pain.
Jarash, < late 19th, 190, Muslim
If I robbed my neighbor of his home,
al-Jura, < late 19th, 420, Muslim & Christian
nobody would need to check the law
Kasla, Canaanite period (Chesalon), 280, Muslim
to decide whether it was wrong.
al-Lawz, unknown, 450, Muslim
Nobody would argue about how long she was there,
Lifta, <= crusade period, 2550, Muslim & Christian
or whether she was "indigenous",
al-Maliha, biblical period (Manahat), 940, Mus/Chris
or whether her cousins had room for her at their place.
Nitaf, unknown, 40, Muslim
Nobody would care that some other guy in Germany
al-Kabu, Roman period, 260, Muslim
had his home stolen last year,
Qalunya, Canaanite period (Mozah), 1260,Mus/Chris/Jew
and still hadn't gotten it back.
al-Qastal, crusade period, 90, Muslim & Christian
But somehow, when the numbers get big enough,
Ras Abu 'Ammar, < late 19th, 620, Muslim
we forget the simple things we know about decency,
Sar'a, Roman period, 340, Muslim
and honor,
Saris, < 1596 CE, 560, Muslim
and justice,
Sataf, < late 19th , 540, Muslim
and what it means to be a decent person (or a Jew).
Suba, Persian period, 620, Muslim
And we debase ourselves with arguments like these
Sufla, crusade period, 60, Muslim
As if a crime committed against a single person
al-Umur, Byzantine period, 270, Muslim
is somehow rendered pureal-Walaja, < 1596 CE, 1650, Muslim
when one becomes hundreds of thousands.

Aaron's blog:

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