Lightning by John Fowler [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia
One wouldn't be wrong if one starts to feel like we're living through a "New York Summer." True, last week was pleasantly warm during the day and cool at night, but this is going to change.
The reason is a broad area of low pressure that will build across the Mediterranean as the week unfolds. With the building low pressure will come moisture at the middle and upper levels of the atmosphere, with moderate humidity levels at lower levels as well as dust. The combination could trigger some late spring thundershowers and or thunderstorms, which could include copious amounts of lightning and hail, as well as a quick accumulation of rain.
The unpleasantly hot weather, combined with unusual humidity levels for areas unaccustomed to summer humidity (like the central mountain areas) will remind at least some of us of a New York summer. Note the lightning storms moving toward Eilat in this screenshot from Earth Networks (courtesy Dr. Barry Lynn).
Since the last large Gaza demonstration, the political heat has also been building up. It seems that those that should know don't know what's really been going on. Yet considering the plethora of news reporting, one thinks that there are those that do know but have cynically sought to exploit our troubles for their political gain.
Basically, if you don't know, the government of Gaza (run by the political party Hamas) has been paying its citizens to storm the border fence between Israel and Gaza for the purposes of breaching the fence with the goal of slaughtering Israelis on the other side. And, if that didn't work, they figured that the media and those politicians mentioned above would take action to make it more difficult for Israel to defend its citizens from both political and military attacks.
There is one thing that struck me, though, concerning the idea of "proportionality," as noted by — and not only by him — the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.
Al Hussein complained that while 60 Gazans were killed, only one Israeli soldier was injured. Notwithstanding the fact that Israel is not an "occupying" power of Gaza, as he claimed, I must say that Al Hussein really knows his math… or does he?
Two numbers are said to be in proportion to each other when they have the same ratio. For example, if a bucket holding 10 kilograms of oranges weighs one kilogram then a bucket holding 20 kilograms must weigh two kilograms. Or, if you like, the weight of the basket equals 0.1 times the weight of the oranges, where the value of 0.1 is a constant, i.e., a value that is valid over an infinite number of similar examples.
Getting back to Al Hussein's proportional example above: some number — call it y — is equal to a constant value multiplied by the number of Palestinians killed. The number y is the number of Israelis that should have been killed at the border fence. Now, of course, any number of Israeli dead would mean that the number was proportional, assuming we could count up the number dead on each side during a variety of skirmishes and that we could then find that the "constant" was indeed constant from one violent exchange to another.
The problem for Al Hussein is that no Israelis were killed. Therefore, there is no proportionality at all. And this really bothers him because he'd like to see a lot of dead Israelis — the value of the constant should be much greater than one — otherwise he wouldn't lie about other aspects of the conflict.
Here's my suggestion. I think that the Israeli army should decide to respond proportionally to these attacks. They will count the number of kites flown over the border and send a proportionate number back. Maybe the constant will be 10 so Israeli will send 10 times as many burning kites back. Israel will count the number of rocks and Molotov Cocktails thrown — but in this case the constant will be 100 times the number sent by the Palestinians. After all, why should Israelis suffer more than the Palestinians when the Palestinians are the attacking side?
Finally, we'll fire only the number of bullets fired at us (the constant is one) because it seems unfair to some that the Israeli army should have more bullets than the Palestinians. I am not sure how many tunnels we should build into Gaza or how many missiles we should fire, but we will be sure to do the math.
One last thing: the proportional ratio of Palestinians killed to Israelis killed at the Gaza border is "infinity." This is a number larger than any known number -- it actually has no definable value. It is actually much larger than the number of stars in the sky divided by the number of people on earth.
While I wish that the Palestinians will use their rocks to build roads, their gasoline to drive cars, and their brass (bullets) to make industrial machines, I have no problem with the number of Israeli deaths being zero — as it is impossible to define the infinite grief of a parent who loses a child to Palestinian hate.
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Image credit: The Jerusalem Herald
Dr. Lynn is a lecturer at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Earth Sciences Department. He is also CEO of Weather It Is, LTD, a company that specializes in reducing weather risk.