Jewish Journal

Israeli Protests Cover the Land

by Pini Herman

August 15, 2011 | 10:56 am

Ten Thousand Or A Hundred Thousand? Can You Tell?

Does God command censuses to know how many Israelite family tents there were? There were eight Biblical censuses. These censuses were for Moses, David, Solomon and the other kings because mortal beings, especially leaders, kings, politicians and advocates have a tendency to make up numbers or ignore numbers when it suits them.

I haven’t seen any demographic surveys of the Israeli cost-of-living and housing protesters yet. There’s another demographic measure which I can use from here to test crowd size claims.  Density. How many people fit on a defined piece of ground.

An average person feels comfortable in a crowd when the closest other persons are about a foot away and an average adult occupies another foot or so. That totals about four feet by four feet (16 sq. ft or 1.5 sq. meters) and then people start bumping into each other.

So when I read that 300,000 Israelis demonstrated a week ago, I figure that they took up about 450,000 square meters of the Holy Land.  I am grateful to Hanan Sher for pointing out my area calculation error. The demonstrators would occupy about a half kilometer in space.  There would be plenty of room for the cost-of-living demonstrators in the public spaces available to them.

I’ve also heard that 300,000 Israeli yordim live in Los Angeles county which is about half the area of Israel, so there should be one Israeli every 15 meters or every 50 feet, the size of a typical city lot in Los Angeles.

In 1983, I estimated, 10 - 12 thousand Israeli born people in Los Angeles, if that figure doubled in the past 28 years, I would be surprised.

This is one of the reasons the most recent L.A. rallies to support Israel on Wilshire Blvd. have had almost as many people on the speakers stage, paid staffers, police, firefighters and emergency personnel as actual participants on the street.

Without good information, wild numbers are bandied about to back all sorts of agendas and precious credibility, goodwill and resources are lost.

Pini Herman is immediate past President of the Movable Minyan a lay-lead independent congregation in the 3rd Street area. To email Pini: pini00003@gmail.com

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Bruce Phillips is Professor of Sociology and Jewish Communal Studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles. He has conducted Jewish population...

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