Jeffrey Goldberg has a great piece in the Atlantic today about the coverage of, and the response to, the Gaza war. Why is it, he asks, that the war in Gaza is covered in exquisite detail by news agencies around the world while a far bloodier war, right next door to Israel in Syria, rages on.
“I was struck, over the weekend, by the lack of coverage of the Syrian civil war, in which the death count recently passed 170,000. By Sunday night, it had become clear that the weekend in toll in Syria would stand at roughly 700 dead—a larger number, obviously, than the weekend toll in Gaza (and more than the total number of deaths in this latest iteration of the Gaza war to date.) I tweeted the following in response to this news out of Syria: “I sincerely hope the @nytimes covers the slaughter in Syria – 700 dead in 48 hours – in tomorrow’s paper. Very important story as well.”
This was my sincere hope, and it was to my sincere surprise that Monday’s newspaper contained no information whatsoever about the weekend slaughter in Syria.”
Ouch, the Gray Lady had that coming.
Now, I’ve talked about this before, contrasting the vociferous criticism of Israel by the BDS movement with their remarkable silence in the face of the far bloodier occupation of Kashmir by India (a conflict which contrasts nicely with the Israel/Palestinian conflict, originating as it does in 1948 and the collapse of the British Empire). It’s the same point made by Goldberg. If Syria kills 700 Syrians over the weekend, it’s not news. If India kills 70,000 Kashmiris over a few decades, hey it gets a few inches of space in the National Post. Oh, but Israel goes to war in Gaza resulting in the death of a 700 Palestinians over a few weeks, well, damn if that’s not 24 hour, front page, news which occupies the attention of the world’s foreign ministers and talking head and triggers violent protests around the world.
Now, who knows, maybe the difference arises because people around the world have inordinate concern or affection for Palestinians relative to Syrians or Kashmiris. Granted, this would not be obvious from the frankly brutal treatment of Palestinians elsewhere in the Middle East, or the world’s general indifference when Palestinians are being killed by Syrians or Jordanians). Or maybe the world just hates Israelis more than they hate Syrians or Indians. In any event, the different treatment speaks volumes about the attitude of the world community towards Israel and its citizens.