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to wonder why the Gaza conflict DOES get so much more publicity than other atrocities in the Middle East?

(92 Posts)
alAswad Thu 07-Aug-14 22:59:19

First of all I would like to make absolutely clear that this isn't an Israel-apologist thread, before anyone has a go at me. I've stated elsewhere that I find the actions of the Israeli government indefensible and I'm not interested in making excuses for them.

It's been raised a few times on the Israel-Palestine threads though that there are other atrocities happening in the region, some on a far bigger scale (the displacement and death toll from ISIS is enormous, including 40,000 members of a religious minority in Iraq currently under siege who will probably die in a matter of days without humanitarian assistance), that are only getting a fraction of the coverage that Gaza is. The response is generally that the Israel threads aren't the place to discuss those issues, which is fair enough, but I do think the disproportionate response is interesting and I'm curious as to where it comes from.

I've heard people explain it as anti-Semitism, which I'm sure some of it may well be, but my hunch is that it's to do with anti-Muslim/Arab feelings as well - people can shrug it off because they feel like it's 'typical' behaviour from Arabs, or that they can deal with their own conflicts and it doesn't concern us. I think maybe people see Israelis as more like 'us' in the West, perhaps because many are of European origin, and so hold them to higher standards. I don't have any evidence for that though, so I'd be interested to hear what other people think.

alAswad Thu 07-Aug-14 23:00:19

Obviously I'm not suggesting that every individual taking an interest in the Israel-Palestine conflict is either an anti-Semite or an Islamophobe, by the way! But it is undeniably getting more attention from the media and the general public than other terrible events in the region, so I'm wondering about the general trend.

biscuitsandbandages Thu 07-Aug-14 23:09:15

Could it be because we are intrinsically linked due to the weapons contracts and arms sales to Israel and indirectly due to our relationship with the US who funds a lot of their defence.

alAswad Thu 07-Aug-14 23:42:52

biscuits I had wondered that, but then it's also arguable that the West had a role in the creation of ISIS through their initial funding and involvement with the Syrian rebels, so I don't think that can be the whole story. Admittedly it's not as direct a connection to us in the UK as there is with Israel, though.

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Thu 07-Aug-14 23:58:04

I'm not sure it does get more publicity over all.

A few years ago, after complaints that reporting was biased against Israel and towards the Palestinians, the BBC held an audit - and discovered the opposite was true.

I think people notice the stuff they have a particular interest in, and the rest washes over them.

Top of my BBC site at the moment is ISIS, and Iraq has been sporadically over the last few months. While Israel is actually bombing Gaza, that gets it up the list - though it was knocked from top spot by the downing of the Malaysian flight. While we were at war in Iraq, that took up a lot of headlines and other stuff from the region didn't.

But it's certainly true that we get more reporting from regions that produce a lot of newsfilm that can easily be reshown, and from English-speaking regions. The regurgitating of US news is totally disproportionate.

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Fri 08-Aug-14 00:06:42

In fact, the order of headlines on the BBC site right now is:

1) ISIS being discussed at the UN
2) Oscar Pretorius
3) hurricane near Hawaii
4) Salmond on Scottish independence & the pound
5) Prince William to join Air Ambulance

PleaseJustShootMeNow Fri 08-Aug-14 00:19:17

I think if it does get more attention it's most likely because it's a conflict with more potential to impact the whole world. Partly because Israel is a nuclear power and largely because it's the frontline between 'them' and 'us'. With big power houses not so secretly backing each side. It's like the cold war all over again.

alAswad Fri 08-Aug-14 00:51:16

I meant during the current conflict Surely (on a side point I love that book!) but I take your point about taking more notice of the things we have a personal interest in. I looked for actual statistics in terms of the amount of coverage of various events over the past month or so and haven't been able to find any, but the BBC itself described Gaza as 'dominating the headlines' over the past month, so I don't think it's unfair to say that the situation there has been getting the majority of attention. It's been prevalent on social media as well, and there have been demos up and down the country - even on here, we're halfway through thread 5 of discussion of Gaza (not that I'm criticising that, it's very informative and helpful), while the only thread that I've seen about ISIS has only 9 posts, and no-one had made one at all until a couple of days ago.

It might be partly down to the fact that people feel they can influence things in Gaza by pressuring our leaders to speak out, but I definitely feel that there's more awareness of the situation there than elsewhere in the Middle East. But maybe it will be discussed more now as awareness grows.

alAswad Fri 08-Aug-14 00:59:03

X-post please - I think that's sort of what I was trying to say, but you've put it better. When 'they' are fighting each other it's their concern and we wash our hands of it, but now that 'our' people are involved it's a different story... I'm not sure I'd say ISIS have less potential to impact the world though, given that they seem to be on a mission to destabilise the entire Middle East.

SeaTurtleVomit Fri 08-Aug-14 01:55:02

No one really cared about the genocide over in Africa either.

Society puts people in boxes. "Us" and "Not us". We (as a society) don't care about a bunch of "Not us" people dying. You can argue it all you want but the fact of the matter is, those stories don't particularly get page views or attention. So they get dropped and are no longer expanded upon.

It's sad, but unfortunately it's hard to make people care because there's not much we can do about it. There's so much going on in the world, it's hard to care about every single thing. No one has the emotional energy to get outraged at every injustice. There's too many.

SeaTurtleVomit Fri 08-Aug-14 01:56:01


X-post please.

Not even one page and I can't RTFT. grin

alAswad Fri 08-Aug-14 02:24:18

That's what I don't get though - if it was British or other western European people dying, or Americans, I can see the reasoning that they're more 'us' than people in the Middle East, but neither Israelis nor Palestinians seem to me to be more 'us' than, say, Iraqis or Syrians. (Well actually Israelis are 'us' to me, hence my interest, but that's for personal reasons that I assume wouldn't apply to most people in this country.) That's why I'm puzzled at the comparative level of interest in Gaza - that sounds really callous when the situation there is so terrible but I hope you can see what I mean.

GuybrushThreepwoodMP Fri 08-Aug-14 06:58:58

I think it gets as much attention as it deserves in the news media- along with other atrocities.
However I think it gets a lot of attention on forums like this and other media because public view around the world is so incredibly polarised. I've lost several friends in arguments over this when I have been called an anti-Semite for suggesting that the ultimate responsibility lies with Israel because of their occupation and control of Palestine. With other atrocities like Rwanda or the Invasion of Iraq even- everyone I knew was in agreement. I never argued with anyone- we all felt the same. I believe that is why there is so much discussion- because it is impossible to come to a compromise and so the discussion continues and expands.

sashh Fri 08-Aug-14 07:28:08

I believe there is a huge difference between atrocities commuted by terrorists such as ISIS and those committed by a government.

crescentmoon Fri 08-Aug-14 07:56:54

On the 'us' I think Israel does always try to portray itself as European and westernised. When they send gvt officials to appear on the news they are white skinned with europeanised features, speak with American/British/Australian accents etc. To make itself part of the European 'us' set themselves apart from the people around them in Palestine, Iraq, Syria. 'You must remember John we are the only democracy in the Middle East...'. But it only makes its actions seem much more calculated.

Of the 'other' there is always this racist sentiment about Middle eastern or African peoples that they are 'prone to violence, not able to control themselves, quick to anger, childish, illogical'. So people almost expect less of them and so their conflicts don't get much coverage as its 'usual' for them. But Israel gets this focus partly from always trying to portray itself as the 'us' (many have European descent anyway), so it's violence is seen as much more deliberate. Not a loss of control. Something else.

I do also think that Israel gets a lot of attention for its military actions because the media doesn't want to talk about America. Not from anti semitism, more that if George bush was still in power there would probably be more of a focus on him as his foreign policy sparked a lot of anti Americanism in Europe. When Obama came in that critical focus on American foreign policy ended, or maybe it just got deflected onto Israel?

PleaseJustShootMeNow Fri 08-Aug-14 08:07:55

I read somewhere that America is so completely pro Israel because of their (America's) large fundamentalist Christian influence. If you know anything about that type of Christianity, it's obsessed with 'end days' prophecy. In Britain churches give very little, if any, attention to the book of Revelation. American Christians know it inside out. One of the precursors to the second coming of Christ is the restoration of Israel. So that's their power is behind Israel.

Of course that could be rubbish. But it scares the heck out of me.

Levantine Fri 08-Aug-14 08:16:20

Lots of us have a history that involves Israel, or Jewish ancestry

Collective guilt over how the Jews were treated in WW2 (and before) also means that we have an emotional investment in the state of Israel

Israel has privileged access to European markets that others in the region don't have

We have a speical relationship with the US which provides funding to Israel. We also sell them arms.

All reasons that we are more interested

That said though, it is only now that the true horror of conditions in Gaza is really coming to the attention of a wider audience. So I don't think we look that closely

Levantine Fri 08-Aug-14 08:17:31

I do think too that we expect Israel to behave like a sophisticated democracy as per Western Europe, so when it doesn't there is disappointment

araiba Fri 08-Aug-14 08:18:22

when was the last time a democratic country committed genocide?

Israel/ Palestine is important because it affects the whole world and its politics and so deserves a spotlight.

Ignoring the obvious human tragedy, Rwandans killing Rwandans, for example, only affects Rwanda

Wannabestepfordwife Fri 08-Aug-14 08:20:23

OP I really don't understand it. ISIS are a massive threat to security in the ME with gains in Lebanon and growing support in Jordan.

I trawl news sites everyday to find stories buried don't know anyone with the same fears about them as me.

I think part of people's reluctance is the west caused a lot of the tensions by their divisions of land so people don't want to get involved

JohnFarleysRuskin Fri 08-Aug-14 08:41:15

Well, I think this is a fascinating question.

I don't know about coverage - I think they are fairly even, but the interest among the general public/mumsnet is wildly different. I've found 1 thread on ISIS with about 12 posts, mostly by one person (no offence) and about 12 long threads on Israel.

All the people who were posting that they were interested in Gaza simply because they are 'human' and it is a humanitarian issue, well, I'm sure they are keeping up the pressure on Iraq and Syria too.

And those people who were saying that its because Israel is kind of a British responsibility - well, don't they know that we recently went to war with Iraq? That the UK is involved in the entire area, drawing up the boundaries, creating nation states, then supplying weapons etc.

There IS plenty to discuss here, if we wanted. We could talk about how this situation came about, what to do, how to help, who is wrong, etc. Or if they were in agreement that it was wrong, why wouldn't they protest, boycott, sanction, demonstrate, write to their MP's etc. We are talking about 10,000's of people here.

You've got to wonder where is the outrage, where is the condemnation, where are the Nazi Germany genocide comparisons? This DOES have the potential to destabilize the world, I am astonished people think it doesn't.

I think a lot of it is Anti-Semitism. ie. "We gave those fucking Jews a homeland and look how they repay us? They go on and on about the Holocaust and self-defence and just annoy/prod the Arabs again."

But I also think it is Islamaphobia. As PP pointed out, is because they don't expect any better from the Middle East than killing each other.

crescentmoon Fri 08-Aug-14 08:43:18

Sorry OP on a side note pleasejust on your chrisian fundamentalist 'end days' comments in supporting Israel. There are similar motivations of foreign jihadists going to fight in Syria also based on Muslim eschatology. It's very niche Id never even known of it until watching this channel 4 report on it last year :

babbas Fri 08-Aug-14 09:04:44

Think the Gaza situation is unique because we helped create israel after ww2. Also the absolute disparity of wealth weaponry and power between the two groups is astonishing. The fact the Gazans are kept blockaded in and have been for 7 years is a unique situation with a level of barbarism unique to itself.

It's a high profile apartheid situation and prices the conscience of many around the world. I wonder if the fact that it's mainly a group of whites oppressing a group of non whites resonates with people.

It feels like a situation we can influence and change as we did in South Africa.
Having said all this I don't think it was massively reported and I actually felt it was under reported. I'm now massively hooked on the situation in Iraq which is main headline news this morning.

PleaseJustShootMeNow Fri 08-Aug-14 09:10:42

Wow thanks crescentmoon I'll watch that later.

bakingnovice Fri 08-Aug-14 09:11:50

Because, in the words of Dr mads gilbert 'it is one of the most brutal occupations of modern history'.

Funded by the west.

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