Two weeks ago I posted about the death toll in the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas. As it happened, later that morning when I opened the door, there was this graphic sitting above the fold on the front page of the New York Times.
The piece sits prominently on the front page, but tones down the colour and detail on the map to let the graphical elements, the coloured boxes, shine and take their prominent position.
Here’s a detail photo I took in case the above is too small.
Ultimately, the piece isn’t too complex and isn’t more than what I made. However, the map adds some important geographical context, showing just where the deaths were occurring.
The piece also highlights the deaths in the West Bank and those in Israel from civil unrest. That was data I didn’t have at the time.
redit for the piece goes to the New York Times graphics department..
Last week I wrote about the deaths in Gaza and Israel, where a ceasefire is holding at the time of writing. But I also included a graphic about the size of Hamas’ rocket arsenal. In a social media post I commented about how it appeared Hamas had also changed its tactics given Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system.
Specifically, in the past Hamas launched rockets at a fairly even pace. However, with Iron Dome, Israel could—and did—defend about 90% of incoming fire. Consequently, Hamas tried to swarm Israel’s defences and some fire did leak through, killing over a dozen Israelis. I was looking for data on that, but couldn’t find what I wanted.
Clearly I didn’t look hard enough. This graphic appeared in the Wall Street Journal last week. It shows the cumulative number of rockets launched at Israel during this most recent surge in violence compared to the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.
In 2014, you can see even, incremental steps up in the total count of rockets. But from earlier this month, you can see much steeper increases on a daily basis with more time between those swarms.
From a design standpoint, it’s a really nice graphic. I will often say that good graphics don’t need to be crazy or flashy. This is neither. It relies on solid fundamentals and executes well. All the axis lines are labelled and the data series fall within the bounds of the x- and y-axis. The colours chosen contrast nicely.
Credit for the piece goes to the Wall Street Journal graphics department.
I’ve seen an uptick in traffic to the blog the last few days, specifically my older content on the Middle East. I don’t exactly have the bandwidth to track the conflict between Israel and Gaza in addition to Covid-19 and my other projects. But as we approached the ten-day mark since Hamas first fired rockets into Israel, I wanted to get a sense of the death toll and so here we are.
The biggest thing to note is that we should take all this data with a grain of salt. For example, the Israeli Defence Force will likely talk up the effectiveness of its Iron Dome air defence system and downplay total civilian deaths. Conversely, Hamas will likely talk up civilian deaths while not detailing at all the deaths of its fighters. And when it comes to deaths in Gaza, it’s not clear what share of those reported by civilian authorities, i.e. the hospital systems, are militant fighters vs. civilians.
Not at all covered by any of this is a discussion of the opportunity costs involved, particularly when it comes to Israeli air strikes. For example, if a Gaza household contains a known Hamas fighter, one can certainly regret an Israeli drone strike that kills the fighter and his non-combatant son whilst in a field. But that strike may be a better outcome than striking the fighter’s home and along with killing not just him and his son, but now his wife, daughters, and the rest of his family.
In what feels like forever ago, I wrote about the trilemma facing the British government as it related to Brexit. Brexit presented Westminster with three choices, of which they could only make two as all three were, together, impossible. Once made, those two choices determined the outcome of Brexit. For better or worse, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made that decision.
We can apply the same trilemma system to Israel in relation to the circumstances of Israel and Palestine. I will skip the long history lesson here. Israel faces some tough decisions. I will also skip the critique of Israeli government policy over the last few decades that brought us to this point. Because here is where we are.
Israel needs to balance three things: the importance of being a representative democracy, of being a Jewish state, and of security control of Gaza and the West Bank for the security of Israel. Here is how that looks.
If Israel wants to remain an ethnically Jewish state—I’m going to also skip the discourse about Jewishness as an ethnicity, though I will point to Judaism as an ethnic religion as opposed to the other Abrahamic universal religions of Christianity and Islam—and it wants to be retain security control over Palestine, i.e. the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, you have what we have today.
If Israel wants to remain an ethnically Jewish state and it wants to be a representative democracy, you get the Two-State Solution. In that scenario, Palestine, again conceived as Gaza and the West Bank, becomes a fully-fledged independent and sovereign state. Israel remains Jewish and Palestine becomes Arab. But, Israel loses the ability to police and militarily control Gaza and the West Bank, instead relying on its newfound partners in the Palestinian Authority or whatever becomes the executive government of Palestine. This has long been the goal of Middle East peace plans, but over the last decade or so you hear Two-State Solution less and less frequently.
Finally, if Israel wants to be a representative democracy, in which case both Jewish citizens and Arab–Israelis and Palestinians all have the right to full political representation without reservations, e.g. the loyalty oath, and it wants to maintain security control over Gaza and the West Bank, you get something I don’t hear often discussed outside foreign policy circles: a non-Jewish, multi-ethnic Israel. Today Arab–Israelis and Palestinians nearly—if not already—outnumber Jewish Israelis. In a representative democracy, it would be near impossible to maintain an ethnically Jewish state in a county where the Jewish population is in the minority. Consequently, Israel would almost certainly cease being a Jewish state.
One can tinker around the edges, e.g. what are the borders of a Two-State Solution West Bank, but broadly the policy choices above determine the three outcomes.
The outstanding question remains, what future does Israel want?
One of the important stories of last week that was not black hole related was that of the re-election of the Likud Party in Israel, a party headed by Benjamin Netanyahu. This will be his fourth consecutive time as prime minister plus a fifth back in the late 1990s. Of course, he is facing an expected arrest and charges on corruption, so how long he might remain in office is yet to be determined.
However, the Economist put together this great piece using a Sankey diagram showing the ebbs and flows of the various political parties in Israel since its founding.
Obviously, this is only a partial screenshot, but it does a great job showing those changes. Most impressive is the designers’ ability to show the continuity of the evolving parties and the name changes and the splits and recombinations.
Credit for the piece goes to the Economist Data Team.
Yesterday I mentioned the cost of the conflict in and around Gaza and we looked at a map of damage. Today, we look at a daily-updated graphic from the Washington Post that counts the human cost—the number of dead.
Credit for the piece goes to Lazaro Gamio and Richard Johnson.
I have done quite a fair bit of coverage on Ukraine. It is a terrible story, but I have also been personally interested in Eastern Europe for awhile. But Ukraine is not the only story in the world, we have seen Gaza erupt in flames. But with the recent, temporary ceasefire, we have been able to calculate the physical and human cost of the Israeli airstrikes and incursions. The New York Times in this graphic looks at the destruction wrought by Israel in one neighbourhood of Gaza City.
Credit for the piece goes to the New York Times’ graphics department.
Today’s piece, the first not on Québec, is a small but poignant reminder of the disparity between the number of deaths in Gaza and in Israel during this most recent conflict. According to the article, as of 16 July there has been one death in Israel for 194 in Gaza. This small piece from the New York Times shows the geographic location of the attacks from both sides and tallies the number of strikes. And the number of dead.
Credit for the piece goes to Craig Allen, David Furst, Nilkanth Patel, Archie Tse, and Derek Watkins.