New Hamas recruit

New Hamas recruit

The state of the conflict between Hamas and Israel was well-described over half a century ago, and it still rings true. Rather than being simplistic descriptions of what might be a complex problem, I think that it’s tough to deny the truth of those sayings. It’s worth considering.

The US now has the best calculation of how many people in its borders are gay, and the number might surprise you. What the result of this may be on leglation and funding is anybody’s guess, but perhaps it bears reconsideration.

Mentioned links:

Golda Meir [WikiQuote]

Benjamin Netanyahu [WikiQuote]

20 missiles found in UN-run school in Gaza

Wanting-To-Hand-Out-Sweets 16

Health survey gives government its first large-scale data on gay, bisexual population

The FAIR Foundation (Fair Allocations in Research), NIH Statistics

CDC: HIV DOWN IN GENERAL POPULATION BUT SURGING WITH GAY, BISEXUAL MALES

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Show transcript

The issues swirling around the state of Israel, and the Middle East in general, are not going to be solved in 10 minutes or less. Then can’t even be fully and properly discussed in that amount of time. However, there is one aspect of this ongoing conflict – a conflict that has become more heated recently – that I do want to touch on.

Golda Meir was one of the founders of the state of Israel, and was Prime Minister from 1969 to 1974. She was very quotable, and one quote that has always stood out to me was this, spoken to the National Press Club. “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” This was in 1957, and it rings true over a half century later. Benjamin Netanyahu, the current prime minister, may have, I think, been paraphrasing it when he said in 2006, “The truth is that if Israel were to put down its arms there would be no more Israel. If the Arabs were to put down their arms there would be no more war.” Rather than being simplistic descriptions of what might be a complex problem, I think that it’s tough to deny the truth of those sayings.

Hamas has been launching rockets from the Gaza Strip for years on an almost daily basis, and the range on those rockets has been getting longer and longer. Israel fights back with more than an anti-missile system, and only then is it news. These Qassam rockets are notoriously inaccurate, such that where they land is more due to chance than any skill in their firing. They are essentially random bombs, not targeting Israel’s military targets, but basically anything that might be in their range is fair game, including homes and apartments. These are the tactics of terrorists; indiscriminant targeting of anyone, including civilians. Collateral damage can only happen when you have a target, and since Hamas is just lobbing these things into Israel, nothing’s “collateral”; it’s all intentional.

And where are these rockets launched from? United-Nations-built schools. Hospitals. And Hamas is using children at least as young as 16 in their attacks through tunnels dug into Israel. Eh, another day, another war crime. But it’s Israel that needs to give peace a chance.

The world is not nearly interested in what terrorists do to Israel. And Israel, for its part, gives medical care to that 16-year-old in their own hospital. Israel has even set up medical facilities on the border with Gaza to care for Palestinians wounded in the current fighting.

Of course, Hamas, for its part, warns people not to use them. Golda Meir’s words, as I said, still ring true. When the Palestinians, and those who speak and act for them, love their children more than they hate Jews, then peace will come. Until then, watch how each side comports itself during the battle. The difference is astounding, and edifying.

The true percentage of the population that is homosexual or bisexual has been the subject of conjecture, and poorly-conducted studies for decades. Numbers from 2% to 20% have been bandied about, with varying degrees of data to back them up.

But now, the National Health Interview Survey, which is the government’s premier tool for annually assessing Americans’ health and behaviors, recently added a question about sexual orientation to its survey of over 33,000 adults. This survey has been around since 1957. It is part of the national census, and the data is analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control. The gay community had been trying to get a question about this onto the survey because it has, as the Washington Post put it, “struggled with a dearth of data about its special health needs.

So what did the study find? It turns out that 1.6 percent of adults self-identify as gay or lesbian, and 0.7 percent consider themselves bisexual. That’s a little under 2.5%. This is important for a few reasons, one of which is that the gay community has, in times past, tried to inflate these numbers in order to justify government programs and other legislation. Clearly one of the determinants of what government spends money on is the “bang for the buck” scale; an attempt to get the most good for the most people for each dollar spent. If they can be perceived as more numerous than they are, then their political influence rises with that.

And speaking of government spending, money going to AIDS programs is a part of this. From a link in the show notes, you can find how much the government’s National Institutes of Health spends on various diseases, and breaks it down by dollars per person with the disease. These numbers are as of 2003, but the page has links to the NIH web site with more recent figures.

At the top of the list, in terms of deaths, is heart disease. About 950,000 people died of that in 2001, and in 2003, the NIH spent a little over $2 billion on that, which comes to about $36 per person with that disease. The link shows a number of other diseases with their budget and spending per patient, and almost all are below $400 per person. AIDS, on the other hand, which killed about 9,000 people – less than one-tenth of the heart disease numbers – had the NIH spending $5,500 per person with the disease, a total of $2.8 billion. This has been a trend for as far back as I could find. I believe that part of the imbalance in the bang-for-the-buck category has been the overestimation of the size of the gay community; a loud voice in the arena of AIDS funding.

Oh, and how is that working, all that funding? I am happy to report that a recent CDC report showed that the incidence of HIV has dropped by one-third in the general population. Women saw the number of diagnoses cut in half; men dropped by 25%, blacks plunged 37%, and Hispanics dropped 41%. Among those who had heterosexual sex, the number dropped more than 33% for men and women. But there was one demographic where the number shot up over 130%; young gay and bisexual men. I’m not going to try to guess why this is the case, but I will note the disparity in funding, and I’d like to suggest that maybe, just maybe, we could hold the line on increases in AIDS funding – not cut it, just hold the line – and try to see if we can’t save more lives elsewhere. If the gay community is the one calling for more money, but a significant segment of that community can’t seem to follow common sense preventative measures, can the morality of these funding decisions really be defended?

For the obligatory disclaimer, I’m not suggesting that, because gays are less of a percentage of the population than previously claimed, that it in any way excuses persecution or harassment of anyone because of their preference. But I do think understanding the facts will help us make more informed decisions. I don’t want people to die of AIDS, but I don’t want people to die of heart disease either, and the latter is more likely for a person than the former.

Filed under: HomosexualityHuman SexualityIsraelMiddle East