Monday, 30 April, 2007

Searching the opposite

For no particular reason, I once Googled the 1967 Israel-Arab 6-Day War. The first dozen and half dozen pages (perhaps more) of links said the same thing, that is, little Israel pulled off the greatest air victory in history by destroying every inimical Arab air force on the ground in a few hours of bombing.

I had almost given up hope of anything different, when I hit an oddly named and badly designed webpage, http://thewebfairy.com/nerdcities/Palestine/some-wars.htm.

In a few short sentences it gave a completely new (to me) picture. I need to quote it in full:

‘The 1967 war was a sneak attack by the Israelis, no different from Pearl Harbor or Operation Barbarossa. It was even justified in the same manner as Operation Barbarossa and the Pearl Harbor attack.

Note the similarity to the German and Japanese justifications for their surprise attacks.

The Israelis claimed that it was only a matter of time before they would be attacked by the Arabs.... so they attacked first. Hence, by Israeli logic.... the Arabs "started the 67 war against Israel".

The Germans claimed that it was only a matter of time before they would be attacked by the Russians.... so they attacked first. Hence, by Israeli logic... the Russians "started the war against Germany".

Israel claims that the blockade of the port of Eilat was an act of war, which forced them to attack. Hence, by Israeli logic.... the Arabs "started the 67 war".

America was enforcing an oil embargo against Japan. The Japanese considered this embargo an act of war, which forced them to attack. So by Israeli logic.... the United States started the war against Japan.’

Suddenly, here was an interpretation that’s diametrically opposite to the usual! The data hadn’t changed, their reading had.

It taught two important lessons in marketing: (a) If you search deep enough, you may be (pleasantly) surprised; and (b) Data by itself can never be enough: It needs to be interpreted with imagination, rigour and an open mind.

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