As of now in Gaza, 105 Palestinians have been killed, at least 700 have been injured and more than 3,000 homes have been at least partially if not fully destroyed as a direct result from attacks issued by Israel (Al Jazeera 11 July 2014).
So, who cares?
As someone who is living in a country that borders three different, major conflicts in neighboring Iraq, Syria and now Israel/Gaza, it is easy even for people here to become desensitized to these issues, let alone people from outside this region. The Middle East has a long history of conflicts which stem from major issues including colonialism and religious conflicts. The amount of suffering caused by these conflicts is overwhelming to say the least. I am not writing this post to the people of the Middle East who are no strangers to the conflicts of this region. I am writing this to a Western audience who knows little about what is going on here and perhaps cares even less.
I have lived abroad now for the past two years, but I remember what the media was like in the US and how a majority of people received their news. The majority of people receive their news about the world through a nice, short 30 minute news broadcast which does not report on any one story for more than 2-3 minutes. Media around the world is subject to bias, some more than others, but much of the US media is well-known for its less than neutral viewpoints which of course favors the US government’s stance and in this case, the favoring of Israel over Palestine. In a recent report provided by ABC News on the current conflict in Gaza/Israel, the news channel showed devastating pictures of the conflict, reporting that it was Israelis who were the victims however, the news reported falsely as the destruction was caused by Israel and the victims were in fact Palestinians. This glaring error while unacceptable, perhaps reveals the larger issue of a general bias towards Israel overall within the US media.
The United States is not the only Western country guilty of bias particularly when it comes to this conflict. The BBC had a recent headline which stated that Israel was being attacked by Hamas. While it is true that Hamas is attacking Israel, the damage which has been done by Hamas towards Israel does not even begin to compare to the damage being caused by Israel towards Palestinians in Gaza. While there have been minimal injuries and no deaths in Israel, the amount of death, injuries and destruction in Gaza is overwhelming in comparison. Neutrality in reporting the news is an essential concept that must be upheld as the media can easily manipulate those who are not well-informed.
Aside from bias in the media, a larger problem is the issue of desensitization. Desensitization occurs over a long period of time and is a process which makes a person emotionally insensitive to something. When it comes to conflicts in foreign countries, particularly in the Middle East, many people in the West care less and less about what is happening in this region. I believe that desensitization occurs much more easily when ignorance is involved. If someone is ignorant about an issue, then they are less likely to be emotionally invested in it from the beginning, let alone as time goes by. It is a shame that in an age where knowledge is so easily accessible, people remain ignorant about many issues. A lot of harm has been caused by ignorance. Ignorance breeds hate, and hate breeds an array of consequences. In order for ignorance to be combatted, knowledge must be spread.
In the case of what is happening in Gaza, it is necessary to read more about it in order to better understand what is going on there. The first link is an interview with 15-year-old Tariq Abu Khieder, the cousin of Mohammad Abu Khieder, the Palestinian teenager who was kidnapped and murdered in light of the recent kidnappings and killings of three Israeli teenagers. It was these events that sparked the current siege happening now in Gaza. The last two links help give some insights as to what the situation is like in Gaza now.
By being more informed about Gaza, it is my hope that more people will start to care about this issue. Rather than this just being another conflict in the Middle East, perhaps people will start to see the greater crisis of desensitization and a lack of understanding for people who are suffering from devastating conflicts.
“VIDEO: U.S. teen, cousin of slain Palestinian youth, says Israeli police beat him”
“Interactive: Gaza, life under siege”
“Gaza toll passes 103 as Israel raids continue”