The Israel-Palestine Conflict: Do we care about it too much?

We receive lots of emails asking us to post or re-print political articles.   A sizable percentage of them concern that perennial favorite:  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Our short answer is: No.  We’re not going there.

We’re not here to weigh-in on who’s right and who’s wrong the world’s most popular conflict.  Everyone else is already doing that ad nauseum

But we must point out two things:

  1. Ultimately, why do we care about conflict victims?  Because to be a moral and conscious human is to both care and be active about minimizing the human costs of global conflict.   We regard all human life as fundamentally equal and sacred. So we care because we must care.
  2. If one cares more or less about a conflict than its humanitarian-impact warrants, then one is  by definition exercising political or some other (non-humanitarian) bias.

What disturbs us about the media’s sheer love-affair for the Israel-Palestine conflict is this:  In the grand scheme of ongoing humanitarian crises, it is relatively unimportant.   (Please note the latter adverb and its mathematical basis).  

Our goal in penning this post is not to belittle any particular crisis, but to ask why do far larger crises go ignored?   And to point out that we have yet to be asked to print a single article about conflict-victims from any of the world’s more serious conflicts.

And in case we’re not being clear:  Yes, we believe that larger humanitarian problems deserve more media attention than smaller ones.  Call us crazy.

We created the following chart to show conflict-casualties measured just from the start of this year.

Were there 20,000x the number of articles written about Syria this year?

Numbers are as of July 15, 2014 – All conflict casualty statistics continue to escalate

 

How many articles in today’s newspaper have you seen about  the conflicts in Congo, Yemen, Somalia or the conflict in Sudan?  How many protests are taking place tomorrow in front of the Sudanese embassies in London?  Oslo?  New York or Stockholm?   To any who would self-righteously proclaim that we are belittling the human lives lost in Palestine, we would say no:  It is you who are belittling the human lives lost in devastatingly more serious conflicts by perpetually elevating this minor conflict to undeserved levels and allowing non-humanitarian interests to intrude upon global humanitarian priorities.

If the media were driven purely by humanitarian concerns, we would expect to see twice the number of articles on South Sudan than we do on Palestine.    And for every article on Palestine, there would be a whopping 145 on Syria.   Clearly that is not the case.   Our guess is that most Europeans and Americans don’t even know there are ongoing conflicts in Nigeria or Pakistan– both of which have extracted exponentially higher human tolls than the Israel-Palestine conflict this year.

All conflicts are serious.  All human life is precious.

But again:  We care about conflict because of its human cost.  And we must measure human costs (and thereby prioritize our responses to them) in human metrics.

The Israel-Palestine conflict is serious and has exacted a horrible toll upon thousands of lives — not just those who have perished, but the many more who have been wounded and bereft.   But to compare this relatively minor conflict with (for example) the number of ongoing civilian deaths in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan or any of the ongoing global conflict zones is to exercise bias (political or other) and to ignore the metrics of humanitarian concerns.

When the media chooses to express endless, repeated outrage only at a specific subset of global conflict deaths and not a relatively greater amount of outrage at the 26,000 lost in just the last 6 months in Syria (or any of the other far more serious conflicts), they are practicing repeated, selective bias which can no longer be masked as humanitarian concern.

We hope the above list sparks concern in a few more deserving causes.

 

  • http://carolmoore.net Carol Moore

    The media is extremely pro-Israel and thus must constantly show Israel in the most positive light and the Palestinians in the worst. Maybe they feel guilty when that means that Israel once again starts bombing the hell out of people who are caught in a big prison 40% the size of the Island of Manhattan. Maybe they worry that the whole world will think Jews are hypocrits for doing this sort of thing, considering the Holocaust, so they want to make a big deal of bemoaning Palestinian deaths. But in the end they defend Israel day after day as it steals more land and kills more Arabs.

    • jhkadas

      I guess that you’ve been to Israel, read about Hamas’s creed, been to Gaza, spoke with people there about what they think about Hamas, read about Israel giving back Gaza strip in it’s whole, removing Jews from their houses in order to achieve peace and so on and so on.

    • Frankie

      “The media is extremely pro-Israel”?!? Huh?!?!?

      • Philip Brett

        The media is not pro-Israel???? Call the doctor I must be hallucinating.

        • You’re not getting it

          Frankly, you’re all missing the point of the above article. The point is this: None of you have the slightest idea what the media bias is regarding the fighting in Waziristan. Not one of you.

          Which raises the question: Why don’t you know what the media bias is regarding Waziristan? Why are you totally unaware of the facts surrounding this conflict? Why don’t you have strong, internal feelings about it?

          The fighting in Waziristan is a far more serious conflict in humanitarian terms than the conflict in Gaza.

          How much aid is the UN giving to Waziristan victims? NOT MUCH.

          Do you even know where Waziristan is? You’re probably so clueless that you think I made it up.

          I bet you’re going to Google it right now.

          See the problem?

        • Augusto G

          “The media” is both pro- and anti-israel. Because “the media” is a very abstract term that encompasses many different mediums, some of which are pro-israel and some of which are anti-israel, some of which are pro-palestine and some of which are anti-palestine*.

          The fact we can settle on is that most of the media are pro- something and anti- the other thing. They are not focused on conveying the truth, they are (most of the times) focused on inducing political postures.

          This one, as many other conflicts, is extremely more complex than they make it look like.

          *No, pro-palestine is not equal to anti-israel, unless you brutally simplify the matter.

    • kate

      if you realy care about palestinas and you are not just antisemitic, as it looks like. you should strongly protest againt Hama, what this teror organization is doing to us (israelis) is nothing compared to what Hamas is doing ot the palastintans people…
      The only reason there’s a war on Gaza and the Middle East peace process failed is Hamas. Israel harms innocent civilians is because Hamas sacrifics them as dens sens Missiles from their homes and dont allows them to leave despite explicit messages from israel to evacuate from areas where rockets and tunnels are hidden

  • Slhilly

    40% the size of Manhattan? Where do people get this crap from? Gaza is about 360sq km. Manhattan is under 90. Googling “Gaza size” and “Manhattan size” was all it took to find that out.

    • disqus_ymluWqlk0f

      maybe a typo since 360 is 400% of 90 – but instead of trying to be all snide about google, perhaps take one second to consider that rather obvious possibility

      • mark Speiser

        Lets see Manhattan Island approximately 60 square kilometers and Gaza if 360 square kilometers. The population of Manhattan is 1.6 million. The population is slightly more. Gaza is actually larger then Brooklyn and Brooklyn has almost 3 million people. Therefore Brooklyn is more population dense. None of these comparison arguments make any sense

        • disqus_ymluWqlk0f

          did either of you read the article? I’m not sure cock waving about the comparison between Gaxa and Manhattan is really relevant to the point is it.

          • Tired of idiots

            If you have a point to make, make it or stfu.

          • Tired of idiots

            If you have point to make, make it or stfu.

  • Muadh Khan

    Just just one conflict doesn’t have Muslims involved. Interesting.

  • CitrusRose

    This is an important article. Would the authors consider adding to the chart by showing the number of people who die from causes apart from armed conflict? Please consider adding: 1) Deaths from hunger. 2) Deaths from infectious diseases. 3) Deaths from all other diseases. 4) Deaths from accidents. 5) All other premature deaths. I am very concerned about the lack of coverage in the media on the death toll from infectious diseases, as the lack of public knowledge means less of a sense of urgency, which means science and preventative measures that would save literally MILLIONS of lives is grossly underfunded!! By the time some of these diseases may mutate and reach the developed world, which has the power to do something about it, it may be too late to save millions more in the developed world.

  • cpt

    I dont think the Israel-Palestine conflict is 184 deads only! Its one of the oldest conflict in the world… I am not sure that an event have to be related in the news according of the numerous of dead it has done…Or we will never speak about sportif and cultural event, political election… And the news on tv will be saturated of car accidents and suicides… I agree to say that the israel Palestine conflict is overhyped but the arguments here are very very clumsy. However, it is high time that this conflict ends quickly…

    • Sam

      Actually, the death toll in 3 years of conflict in Syria is around equal to the amount of deaths (from both sides) in 66 years of Arab-Israeli conflict…

      • cpt

        hmmm… Dont forget that the civilian war on Libanon from 1975 to 1990 is an Arab-israeli conflict too….(about 250,000 deaths)

    • obiwan

      Look at the article date, dummy.

      And btw, the deaths in Ukraine, Syria and Pakistan are also rising rapidly. This article nails it!

      • cpt

        Indeed, it makes no sense to reduce this conflict to the year 2014 only.

        • Obsi

          Ha! Well, that’s not really an argument that’s going to work for you. If you’re going to introduce historical data then the argument for Palestinians becomes infinitesimally insignificant compared to other conflicts.

  • Get it right

    This graph is either outdated or completely made up. More than 1,100 ppl have died in Palestine in the past month alone. Get your facts right before posting ridiculous propaganda and blaming the so called ‘other media’ who can at least count.

    • MarcAquino

      Another dumbass who can’t read the date at the top of the page.

      Guess what dummy, all the numbers are bigger now, and the Palestinian conflict still ain’t near the top.

  • Me again

    This graph is totally made up or outdated. 1100 ppl have died in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the past month alone. At least the so called ‘other media’ can count. Get your facts right.

    • Monicalalia

      Yeah… and now the numbers in Syria are exponentially higher too. Even if five times the number of people die in Gaza it would make the conflict rank the conflict now a distant 3rd place in 2014. Get it? You’re practicing selective outrage. Someone really doesn’t understand the article.