Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Liars Figure and Figures Lie

My father, a wise man, always said that about statistics. I agree that data can be manipulated to support many different premises. Therefore, I have to admit to feeling a little sheepish using internet statistics to support my opinion. However, my opinion is not such a popular one and I need all the support I can get.

According to UNODC, United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, there were 4.7 homicides per 100,000 in the United States two years ago and just 1.8 in Israel. The World Bank’s numbers for the same year are 5 per 100,000 in the USA and 2 in Israel. In other words the chances of being murdered in America are more than twice as high as in Israel.

Now I can imagine all sorts of qualifications readers living outside Israel will want to put on my figures. They will say that most of the USA murders are connected to crime. They will claim that they only happen in bad neighborhoods. They will say that you need to stick with the right kind of people and you’ll be okay. In Israel the murders are mostly terror related and can happen to anyone.
Ten years ago I may have agreed with my critics but no longer. There have been too many random murder sprees splashed across the computer screens this past decade. And now with the rise in anti-Semitism I believe I can write with full confidence that Israel is the safest place for a Jew.

My husband may feel the need to carry a pistol at times but he never has to put on a hat to cover his skullcap.

My son may have to do yearly reserve army duty but he doesn’t need to conceal his prayer tassels under his uniform.

I may carry mace in my purse but I am not afraid to walk in my country’s capital alone after dark.

No one ever needs to hide being Jewish in Israel. I can’t prove that point with statistics but rather with some simple facts. Jews pray set prayers three times a day, in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Sometimes, especially in the winter, mincha, the afternoon prayer, is hard to fit in since it must be said before the sun goes down.  Although it is best said with a minyan of ten, there are times when travelers find it is just best to pull over to the side of the road and pray.
 Sometimes one pulls to the side of the road and miraculously a minyan forms.
 I, myself, have said the afternoon prayer in the middle of a shopping mall without feeling the least bit self-conscious or nervous.

Unfortunately, I didn’t feel the same way several years ago when I prayed mincha in America inside a Target store. I found what I trusted was a little used aisle, worried about calling attention to myself, hoped no one would bother me, and had very poor concentration on the words I prayed. My husband found a better solution. He hid in a dressing room!

Earlier this week, in light of the terror attack in Denmark, the Israeli Prime Minister called out to Europe’s Jews, "Israel is your home. We are preparing and calling for the absorption of mass immigration from Europe."

Many will ignore his invitation for all sorts of reasons: family commitments, health issues, inability to leave behind wealth, fear of readjustments, and responsibility to the Jewish community there. Although I believe these rationales can all be overcome I can understand them.

However, those who stay in Europe because they look at terror statistics and believe it’s not safe in Israel are making crucial life decisions based skewed facts because liars figure and figures lie.




Esther Jacobs said...

I used to argue those statistics with my Dad and friends when I moved to Israel. I said, I survived Cleveland Ohio during the riots, i am not at all afraid in Israel. I must say, it is the only place I have not felt self conscious about being a Jew. I feel very safe there, much safer that here. I would never have dreamed of hitching in the US, but I did it in Israel all the time. Good story. Thanks, Esther

Ester said...

Thank you!