Who Are These Moralists?
With Israel, every death is investigated, every movement protested against. Yet when it comes to the wholesale slaughter in Syria, there is just a single global shrug. People cannot be wholly surprised if some of us choose to observe that many of those who comment with fury about Israel have revealed themselves to be neither humanitarians nor journalists but pure and simple anti-Israel political activists.
Syria's civil war has now entered its third calendar year. With worse still to come, in recent days it has been estimated that the number of people killed in Syria since the uprising began now stands at more than 90,000. Any death is a tragedy for someone and the people close to him; and a million deaths are not a statistic but a million individual tragedies. How can this fact glide by us with so little comment?
When it comes to Syria, there are probably a few practical reasons. One, undoubtedly, is that people get bored with long news stories. As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown -- in which American, British and other Western troops have after all featured prominently – public and media attention was fairly short-lived. After an initial burst of fascination, once the new norm was established, peoples' attention wandered elsewhere. Syria has now dragged on too long to hold peoples' ever-smaller attention spans.
There is also the circumstance that in Syria – as in other recent wars – journalists have found themselves becoming targets. While many journalists are willing to take the same risks as the population at large, few are willing to stay in situations where they might be the actual object of death-squads or the attentions of RPG's. In Syria, most journalists have found it hard to get in, or once there, are unwilling to stay, so the amount of footage coming out is necessarily limited. With an absence of plentiful footage, if the story cannot be visualized, there is now rarely a story. Evidently we need pictures.
But there is another, more important, reason why this story has got so little attention. There are often underlying, as well as immediate, reasons why something does not make news. There are some situations in which a tragedy helps a political cause and others in which it hinders it. For some people, casualties are not tragedies or statistics, but simply a well-spring for political point-scoring. To compare the cases of Israel and Syria is to see this at its most stark.
Take, for instance, the highest figures for all the wars in which Israel has been involved throughout its history. The upper estimates suggest that the War of Independence in 1948 cost around 20,000 casualties in total – that is 20,000 on all sides. The upper casualty estimates of the wars of 1968 and 1973 are similar: another 20,000 and 15,000 respectively. The smaller wars in Lebanon and Gaza in the years since add several thousand more to this sad total. But something is striking here.
All the wars involving Israel, throughout its history, have caused at least 30,000 fewer deaths than have been caused in Syria in the last couple of years alone. Say that you added together all the wars involving Israel, and they had all happened either consecutively or in one go. Would we have seen the same amount of coverage that we have seen in Syria? Would there have been more or fewer protests around the world involving people of all religions, races and backgrounds, than there have been outside of Syria in recent months? Would the nations of the world, the United Nations and the UN Security Council, have been quieter or noisier than they have been when it has come to the matter of Israel's neighbor, Syria, over recent months?
The answer to all these questions is that the air and ground incursions in Gaza in recent years have on each occasion led to deaths -- tragic though they may be -- that are a fraction of the number in Syria since the uprising there began. Yet the world, and the world's press, and the world's protest movements, and the world's governments and the world's supra-national organizations have on each and every occasion mobilized in a way which seemed at the time, and in retrospect, to demonstrate an obsession which is probably at best unhealthy, and at worst the expression of straightforward bigotry. All those people who claim that small incursions into Gaza have not been small incursions, but in fact a "holocaust," where are they now? If the death of a hundred people is a "holocaust," what is the death of 90,000?
How could the differences between reactions to the tragic situations in Syria and in Israel have become so obscene and exaggerated? There are a number of reasons. First, and most obviously, we are forced to conclude yet again that when an Arab kills an Arab it is not news. Only if a Jew is involved does it make the cut.
Second, we must consider that there is a strategic reason for the silence on Syria as opposed to the babel of opinions over Israel. As the death-toll reaches towards the first 100,000, is it not possible that the world reacts so differently in Syria because they see absolutely no solution there? They see a dictator at war with his people but cannot conceive of any way to solve this problem. They see lingering in the wings only worse dictators, worse parties, worse factions and worse religious extremists.
But with Israel -- and here we come to the source of the babel -- the world believes that there is a solution. Whoever is in charge in Israel -- Olmert, Netanyahu or anyone else -- the answer remains in the public's mind the same. And the world, by and large, increasingly thinks that the answer is simple. The problem, they think, is Israel. And it has become "accepted wisdom" that if the press, politicians, international organizations and NGOs who think this way just push hard enough, they will finally be able to bring things to their happy, delusional conclusion.
When people talk of "holocausts" in Gaza, they are seeking to persuade the world to intervene (if a "holocaust" is occurring, how could they not? Just look at Rwanda.). Yet when it comes to Syria, most of the world appears perfectly content to be bystanders. With Israel, every death is investigated, every movement protested against. Yet when it comes to the wholesale slaughter in Syria, there is just a single global shrug. People cannot be wholly surprised, after this divergence of views, if some of us choose to observe in the future that many of those who comment with fury about Israel's actions have revealed themselves to be neither humanitarians nor journalists, but pure and simple anti-Israel political activists.
Reader comments on this item
|Freedom [71 words]||Frank Goldstein||Mar 15, 2013 20:54|
|"From surrealistic geopolitics to apocalyptic delusion." [239 words]||Noga||Mar 12, 2013 12:04|
|↔ It's more than that, Noga. [100 words]||Phil Slepian||Mar 12, 2013 12:40|
|It's Called Anti-Semitism, Mr. Murray. [43 words]||Phil Slepian||Mar 12, 2013 10:30|
|↔ Follow the money [168 words]||Yuval||Mar 13, 2013 15:09|
|↔ To Yuval [128 words]||Phil Slepian||Mar 14, 2013 07:46|
|↔ Good points [110 words]||Yuval||Mar 16, 2013 12:05|
|↔ EVs are here [66 words]||Khaled||Jul 12, 2013 02:18|
|How do we reach the misinformed? [49 words]||Batya Casper||Mar 11, 2013 19:40|
|Bravo [60 words]||Naftali||Mar 11, 2013 14:35|
|Let the Muslims kill one another [13 words]||HaDaR||Mar 11, 2013 13:57|
|"Anti-Semitism" is just another form of discrimination [426 words]||Allen Z. Hertz||Mar 11, 2013 12:09|
|Who are the Moralists? [77 words]||Mustapha||Mar 11, 2013 11:29|
|Compassion not a Comparison [109 words]||Shannon||Mar 11, 2013 10:54|
|↔ Fact Not Fantasy [46 words]||Ben||Mar 12, 2013 14:04|
|Indeed! [107 words]||Frumious Falafel||Mar 11, 2013 10:12|
|The inconvenient truth [173 words]||Sharon||Mar 11, 2013 07:04|
|We know why [40 words]||Ethan P.||Mar 11, 2013 06:09|
Comment on this item
by Khaled Abu Toameh
It is important to note that these cease-fire demands are not part of Hamas's or Islamic Jihad's overall strategy, namely to have Israel wiped off the face of the earth.
Many foreign journalists who came to cover the war in the Gaza trip were under the false impression that it was all about improving living conditions for the Palestinians by opening border crossings and building an airport and seaport. These journalists really believed that once the demands of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are accepted, this would pave the way for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
To understand the true intention of Hamas and its allies, it is sufficient to follow the statements made by their leaders after the cease-fire announcement this week. To his credit, Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas's leader, has never concealed Hamas's desire to destroy Israel.
Hamas and its allies see the war in the Gaza Strip as part of there strategy to destroy Israel. What Hamas and its allies are actually saying is, "Give us open borders and an airport and seaport so we can use them to prepare for the next was against Israel."
by Burak Bekdil
A front-page headline was particularly revealing: They (Israel) bombed a mosque in Gaza! Including the exclamation mark!
A quick internet search, if you typed "mosque bombing Shiite-Sunni," would give you 782,000 results on July 16.
Why did we not hear one single Turkish voice protest the death of 300,000 Muslims in Darfur?
Hamas's Charter is must-read fun.
by Bassam Tawil
What is sad is that the Gazans have not yet been able to free themselves from the yoke of Hamas.
The world seems not to understand that Hamas, like ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood, does not exist in a vacuum. It is one cog in the radical Islamist wheel that threatens the Arab and Muslim world and the major cities of Europe.
The Western world also seems not to understand that it has to incapacitate or totally neutralize the countries funding terrorism, such as Iran, Qatar and Turkey, for whom the Palestinian problem is only a pretext on the way to destroying the Western world as we know it and replacing it with only Islam.
by Burak Bekdil
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri said: "All Israelis are legitimate targets." What would the Palestinian death toll have been if Mr. Netanyahu's spokesman declared all Palestinians as legitimate targets?
Underdog-nation romanticism tells us Israel should not respond when under rocket attack because it is capable of intercepting the rockets.
That there are fewer Israeli casualties does not mean Hamas does not want to kill; it just means, for the moment, Hamas cannot kill.
by Soeren Kern
Austria figures prominently in a map produced by the IS that outlines the group's five-year plan for expanding its caliphate into Europe, and has emerged as a central hub for jihadists seeking to fight in Syria.
"The spectrum of recruits for the conflict in Syria is ethnically diverse. The motivation, however, appears to be uniformly jihadist." — Austrian intelligence agency BVT.
"Allah also gives you the opportunity to wage jihad in Austria." — Austrian jihadist Firas Houidi.
"We are proud that Allah has chosen us. We feel like lions." — Austrian jihadist Abu Hamza al-Austria.