Numbers are remarkable things.

Placing aside the obvious wonder that is mathematics, numbers can capture a phenomena, be it historical, political or economical and trap their essence in a collection of squiggles.

For example, when we consider the settlement population of the Occupied Territories in Palestine, the following figures convey almost as much – if not directly more – than words could:

West Bank

1972 > 1, 182

2000 > 192, 976

2008 > 295, 380

Gaza Strip

1972 > 700

2000 > 6,678

2008 > 0

East Jerusalem

1972 > 8,649

2000 > 172,250

2007 > 189,708

Golan Heights

1972 > 77

2000 > 15, 955

2008 > 19, 083


1972 > 10,608

2000 > 387, 859

2007 > 484, 862

In his June 2009 Op-Ed, Tony Judt puts the size of the settlements in perspective:

It is thus not by chance that the international press is encouraged to speak and write of Jewish “settlers” and “settlements” in the West Bank. But this image is profoundly misleading. The largest of these controversial communities in geographic terms is Maale Adumim. It has a population in excess of 35,000, demographically comparable to Montclair, N.J., or Winchester, England. What is most striking, however, about Maale Adumim is its territorial extent. This “settlement” comprises more than 30 square miles — making it one and a half times the size of Manhattan and nearly half as big as the borough and city of Manchester, England. Some “settlement.” [Source]

Ultimately, while words can be moulded to convey something as less or more than it is in reality, numbers become more tangible.

Depending on the sources, of course.

It’s maths and politics, not Utopian science.

One comment on “Numbers

  1. Ben Hoffman
    February 13, 2010

    It’s about time those areas were settled. 🙂

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This entry was posted on February 13, 2010 by in Israel, Middle East, Palestine, Politics and tagged , , , , , , .
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