Running the Numbers

By Professor Shlomo Maital  

   Economists find truth, in general, in numbers.  I am an economist. But I never did accept this axiom.  Truth lies in stories, narratives and in people.  Numbers mislead.  For example, GDP.  There is little correlation between per capita GDP and perceived wellbeing.  Bhutan, a poor country, is one of the happiest.

    Nonetheless, sometimes we need numbers to put things in perspective. So here are a few.

    * Nearly a quarter million Israelis have been forced to leave their homes, in areas bordering the North (Lebanon/Hezbollah) and the South (Gaza/Hamas), by rockets and other attacks.  This is equivalent to 9,175,000 Americans becoming immigrants in their own country.  This is more than the entire population of New York City

   *  Some 1,200 Israeli civilians were killed in the October 7 massacre – equivalent to 44,000 Americans, or fully three-fourths of the total death count of American soldiers during the Vietnam War, well over a decade.  All this occurred during a few hours of Oct. 7.

   *  Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah have fired some 9,500 missiles, rockets and drones at Israel from Gaza and other fronts since Oct. 7.  Almost all were aimed at civilians.  One in eight (12%) misfired and landed with Gaza, killing civilians.  Iron Dome’s success rate is 95% — and David’s Sling and Arrow 3 interceptors (ballistic missiles) have also been in action and have succeeded. 

    * On Thursday, Nov. 2,  102 aid trucks entered Gaza from the Rafah crossing, with food, water, and medicine.  In one day. 

     * Some 330,000 Israelis were called up to military reserve duty, on an emergency basis.  This is about 8% of the workforce of 4.3 million, or one worker in 12.  Many volunteers are taking up the slack – particularly in agriculture, where foreign workers have left in the wake of war.

     * Israel has a population of around 9 million, of whom 7 million are Jewish and 1.7 million are Moslems.  And there are about 9 million Jews abroad.   There are 1.9 billion Muslims in the world.  Millions of migrants from Muslim countries now in the West support the Palestinian cause vigorously.  According to the 2021 UK census, 3,868,133, or 6.5% of the UK population are Muslim – one person in every 15.    

     * Qatar has provided Hamas in the Gaza Strip with over $1.1 billion from 2012 to 2018, with the approval of the Israeli government.  Qatar has the world’s third-largest oil-and-gas reserves and is the world’s largest exporter of LNG (liquified natural gas).  Saudi Arabia has a fifth of the world’s proven oil reserves, or 300 billion barrels.  Much of the world’s energy supplies come from Muslim countries.