I thought it would be a good time to ask a nagging question (in my mind, at least): why does Israel's treatment of Palestinians provoke such outrage in the West, while Sudan's treatment of Darfuris faces a generally dispassionate response?
I just searched HubPages for "Darfur":
- 168 hubs
- 31 forum posts (including this one that went nowhere)
- 609 hubs
- 113 forum posts
When you look at the death toll:
- 300,000 dead in Darfur (about 60,000 from violence, about 240,000 from disease/starvation) over the last 6 years
- About 6,500 dead among Palestinians (5000 from 2000-2008, 1400 in 2009 with the Gaza attack)
I am not saying that 6,500 dead people is no big deal. I am wondering, though, what animates the West (why it animates the Arab world is obvious) about this but the 60,000 killed in Darfur only manages a relatively tepid response.
not sure why? rwanda didn't seem to be on the radar as much either until it was too late......hate to say it; hate to think it - not as much money/power on the line?
politician who lives where I am, but who was elected for national purposes has tried a few times to bring attention to Darfur within our federal parliamentary system - the issues just seem to me to fall on deaf ears.........I speak with him from time to time when he's in town...and he has spoken frequently about Darfur of course....he has done a lot of personal work in Africa - not sure exactly where.
It's a good question which I think has several answers, all of which contribute to the relatively high profile of the Palestine conflict. Some of the answers have already been suggested. In my view the major reason is:
A third World war cannot be sparked off in Darfur. It can be, and it just might happen, in the Middle East. Israel is a nuclear power and would not surrender while it still had this last card to play. People are therefore worried less about what is happening than about what could happen.
Isn't that a bit of a circular argument, though? I agree it's true, but why exactly would Turkey and countries further West feel compelled to be drawn in to the conflict should it escalate? (Maybe I'm being naive, but I can't imagine most eastern Muslim countries, like Kyrgyzstan or Malaysia getting involved) Why would certain countries get involved and why?
India and Pakistan are both nuclear powers and have unresolved conflicts with each other that could easily escalate. I see very few protests outside the Subcontinent calling one bloody murderers, or the others terrorists. Hundreds get killed in Kashmir and there isn't so much as a peep in the West about it.
The usual portrayal of the Middle East conflict is one of a humanitarian and civil rights travesty, not one of a potential threat to all of humanity. Or at least that's the way it's seemed to me. And if you're talking about a humanitarian and civil rights travesty, having 300,000 killed over 10 years and over a million expelled from their homes seems like pretty much the biggest one we've had since Rwanda.
Maybe it's because the Darfur conflict has undisputed 'good guy' and 'bad guy' sides, while the Palestine one doesn't (it's the polemic nature of the conflict that fires it up).
Turkey isn't that far away from Israel - that is the problem and, in the case of Turkey, it has always been an ally of Israel due to a common enemy - Islamic fundamentalism. That is why the present situation is a concern - I am not going to start the arguments again (there are plenty of other threads for that), but it has created tension in the area.
It is very difficult not to get drawn into the debate in this part of the world especially because, as Kephrira mentioned, religion is involved. If Turkey is drawn in, so are Greece and the Balkan states, like dominoes. It is our backyard, I guess - like Central America for you guys. Greece and part of Turkey, whilst geographically European, are historically, socially and culturally Middle Eastern.
As a generalisation and extrapolation on my part, most Greeks seem to be far more concerned about the threat to security than the humanitarian angle - maybe they learned a little about the complexity of such situations with the Cyprus conflict. Of course, there is a pro-Gaza movement here, but most Greeks that I know are fairly pragmatic about the whole thing
I totally understand the pragmatic fears that Greeks and others have. I'm just not really understanding why, if Turkey feels it would have to get involved because of religious affinity, why Greece would have to be drawn in. Must Greece get involved in any conflict Turkey's in? (One that doesn't involve the two countries as primary actors, like a territorial dispute between them)
Good question - This area of the world is very volatile, in that respect. I am not talking so much about Greece declaring war in support of Turkey (I assume that NATO would have long since collapsed if a Turkey/Israel conflict came to pass), because of the historical animosity between the two countries. Nor do I think that the Greeks would be insane enough to declare war against Turkey.
It is more about being drawn into the conflict - any such conflict would, undoubtedly, spill into Greek territory somewhere in the Aegean or in Greek airspace.
You also have the Muslim populations in the Balkans to the north - it would not take a lot to kick that conflict off again, especially as there is a wave of nationalism currently sweeping the area, as some of the newly formed countries try to forge their own way in the world - Albania, FYROM, Kosovo.
I am thinking more of a 'Franz Ferdinand' moment - the Balkans could easily implode again, so I hope that this all remains purely hypothetical
Yes, I'd imagine you're right that if something is going on on your doorstep, it can be easy to get drawn in, although in the Balkan Wars of the 90s, no other countries (except the occasional bomb landing unfortunately in Sofia) felt the need to get involved.
Agreed, any provocation with enough impact could escalate into a Franz Ferdinand moment. That's frightening enough.
We just have to hope that nobody does anything stupid - I have a feeling that this will blow over, but Greeks and Turks are hot-blooded and unpredictable.
Greece is a beautiful country in which to live, but it is also a prized strategic location - there is a three-way economic tug of war between the EU, US and Russia over the Balkans at the moment. Interesting times!
I like this thread - some good points have been raised by all. I think that you are on the right track with the media coverage and its link with the religious angle. As Kephrira and Origin pointed out, both 'sides' have powerful and influential friends within the western media. Maybe that is another reason why the debate seems to be split along left/right lines - it reflects the biases in the media. No room for moderates
Yes, that's all true.
On the Israeli side, it's interesting that most of the support is coming not from Jews, but from evangelical Christians (although Jewish lobbying groups are certainly extremely influential). On the Palestinian side, most of the support seems to be coming from Europeans (for a number of reasons) and petroleum interests.
Petroleum interests (most of them Chinese and European, but not all) are involved in the Darfur matter, which is probably why the massacres are buried in the media.
Petroleum interests are involved everywhere, either by commission or, oddly, by omission. By which I mean that unless there is oil interest, e.g. a strategic pipeline or an exploration, the big players are deliberately absent and the area is left to spiral down into tribalism and (local) genocide. Because without first world interest, it's getting harder and harder for third world countries to pull themselves up by the bootstraps.
On the media issue, some of it comes down to simple fashion. Without wanting to seem too cynical, the Middle East is a brand, like the English Premier League. Both are exported all over the world, to armchair pundits, one by News Media, the other by Sports. People like what they know, or think they know, and are always ready for the next episode in their favourite soap. Even if it's all too real.
it's such a sad, human rights situation. I know for myself, when I read or watch news about Darfur, it deeply affects me. I feel helpless. I don't know why the attention is not given other than media always working on the sensationalism that affects more of the masses. ?
sometimes, as I know you are aware, it's hard to get a decent discussion here before people are attacking each others opinions. or the 'know-it-alls' appear. not conducive for intelligent discussion.
I'm getting ready for bed, but it would be nice to hear some decent discussion. we do need to care about this region and these people.
I hope you sleep well. When you wake up, you may want to take a look at some of my research on Darfur.
There are a number of factors but mostly money. Part of the reason that such destitute places don't get any coverage is because there's really nothing there for Americans. As ethnocentric as that sounds, it’s true. There’s no oil there as in the Middle East, also being a less developed area, it makes logistics a major headache and when it comes to stationing a correspondent or covering a story, in a place that most Americans don’t know exists the cost to yield ratio doesn’t favor providing coverage. RebekahELLE, you are right on point. Americans as a country have a very short attention span; we’re like goldfish in a glitter factory (they have a 2-second memory). There’s still stuff going on in Haiti since the earthquake, but our “ooh, shiny!!” mentality has shifted from the floods in Nashville to the BP oil spill and as soon as something else comes up, we’ll jump on that. Meanwhile, Haiti is still rebuilding and the Grand Ole Opry Hotel is just now being gutted for renovations from flood damage.
I came across your post about how little coverage Darfur is getting and decided to put this one out early just for you. It’s a little rough, so bear with me, the content is there. I should have another one available later this week and I’ll probably be covering the conflict diamond trade by the end of the weekend.
I'm not a "know it all", just as a loss for something to do with myself since I'm not taking any classes this month, so if you've got anything you'd like me to cover, let me know.
Hope you like it.
Well, I take your point about the money, but Haiti was an entirely different animal altogether (a one-time event, no allies/enemies, no conflict between 2 peoples, etc).
Plus, our supposed itinerant attentions would suggest we'd forget about the Middle East instead of being engaged with it all the time, which I would argue we are.
These can not even be put on the same level. It is offensive to lump in Israel's defence of it's own citizens from DAILY, indiscriminate rocket attack and worse to a genocide perpetrated on unarmed non-combatants.
Of course there are civilian casualties, but Israel is protecting itself as it has a RIGHT to do under international law.
I like Paraglider and Lance's points - geography and proximity are issues for many of us.
Yesterday, the Israel/Palestine issue spread - it is (hopefully) unlikely to happen, but if Turkey and Israel begin hostilities, then Greece will be affected. After that the Balkans...
The Israelis also have a very powerful PR machine; that attracts attention, both positive and negative - many pro-Palestine supporters also know how to play the publicity game. The conflict certainly has the power to polarise - I read a lot of comments on various sites yesterday stating that, 'Israelis are Nazis'/'The activists are Anti-Semitic Jihadists.' Very sad - Not much hope for peace when each 'side' demonises the other
Sudan does not have the same potential to spread, nor the saturation press coverage. A good point well made, though - there are many areas in the world that the press and politicians conveniently forget. Darfur is one such tragedy.
thanks Lance, I have bookmarked your hub to read when I have some time to concentrate.
it's nice to see some good discussion here.
I'm glad someone mentioned Darfur - it's one of those issues very close to my heart, and god knows how helpless I feel over it. A few years back, bbc did a special series on the rape victims in rwanda and I've never been the same since watching those horror stories. The crisis bellies all description even.... and I find myself already struggling with words here.
I've wondered too why Africa (not just Sudan) has never received as much attention in the media and politics as the middle east crisis has.... perhaps the land is too replete and poor... god knows, but if I could I would drop my life right this very minute and go work there as an aid worker... such horrific conditions there really...
It gets so much attention for the same reason that it has been so difficult to do anything about - religion. Jerusalem is the holy land for the world's 3 biggest religions.
That, and probably some very powerful and wealthy people from the West may be friends with people in Israel (politicians).
Yes, and some people in Palestine are friends with wealthy and powerful people in various Arab countries. But the strength of those bonds on both sides is largely due to them having a common religion, and to their religious feelings being projected onto the situation.
That makes a person wonder what if religion was taken out of the equation, as in it doesn't exist, or for example they both shared the same religion (ie, both Islamic, both Christian, both something)... would they still be having as much bloodshed?
I think you've hit the nail on the head. Religion is the single biggest evil in the area and the primary reason that America supports Isreal. Judaism is, in a manner of speaking, the father of Christianity - they differ in their beliefs by only one person. Basic beliefs and ethics differ only in the details and both are willing to get along with the other.
Islam, on the other hand, has a very different moral and ethical structure and is basically unwilling to cooperate and get along with any other belief structure. That makes it very easy to raise sympathy in America for Isreal but not for Palestine. In addition, Isreal also plays a part in the Christian belief of the end of the world and needs to be maintained for that reason.
Darfur, however, is difficult for the typical American to identify with. Lifestyles, beliefs, even daily life is so far removed from our experience we have trouble truly understanding what is happening or why. Our only religious concern with the area is to proselytize - we feel no common ground with the people that are little more than fodder for the Christian conversion machine.
I know many, many people in the West, in particular, who are not religious whatsoever but have very strong feelings about the Palestinian conflict, but have little to say about Darfur or Kashmir.
How much of that is due to the media coverage? I am not religious, either, but my knowledge of Darfur of Kashmir is limited to an occasional blurb in the newspaper, TV or maybe these forums. The Palestine conflict is reported almost daily. The media reports what will sell papers or ads; that requires the interest of the most people.
Yes, but that brings a circular argument, too, right? The press and politicians follow where their constituents want them to.
But, as a lot have mentioned here, there are enough religious people concerned with "the holy land" to merit enough media & political attention, and when that much attention is already being paid, otherwise uninvolved/uninterested might develop an interest due to the continued exposure.
Just a theory.
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