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    letters | clash in the middle east

    Unequal casualty count is a sign of more misery to come

    Re “Israel readies Gazainvasion as Hamasrockets zero in” (Page A1, Nov. 17): On the front page of Saturday’s Globe were side-by-side photos giving equal treatment to the grim realities of civilian death during the latest conflict between Israel and Gaza. Buried later in the story were grimmer — and unequal — realities.

    We learn that the last such outbreak, four years ago, “left 13 Israelis and more than 1,000 Palestinians dead,” and that in the current operation “Israel is highly motivated to avoid a repeat” of the earlier Palestinian death toll. As of Friday night, “30 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli airstrikes” and three Israelis had “been killed by the rocket fire coming out of Gaza.”

    I suppose we should applaud when the ratio of Israeli deaths to Palestinian deaths drops, at least initially, from 1:77 to 1:10. But the level of misery in the Middle East is unlikely to drop until American policy makers and media outlets acknowledge the sources of Palestinian desperation in Israeli occupation and expropriation practices — and until we stop allowing ourselves to believe that a Palestinian life is worth a small fraction of an Israeli life.

    Jeffrey Mitchell