“In Gaza, It’s 9/11 every hour, every minute, everywhere.”

Like a lot of people, I’ve spent the past couple of days glued to my TV set and the papers, monitoring the horrible situation in the Gaza strip, and the Arab world’s increasing disenchantment with Egypt.

So far, according to the UN, at least 373 Palestinians have been killed and 1,720 are injured. Of those killed, approximately 1/3 were women and children. In terms of civilian casualties, some analysts have called this the worst attack since the 1967 war.

(“Counting makes it’s easier,” says Palestinian journalist Laila El-Haddad. “Systemising the assaults makes them easier to deal with. More remote”).

As Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian human rights activist in Gaza tells us:

In Gaza, it’s 9/11 every hour, every minute, everywhere, and tomorrow is always a new day of mourning. […] It is now 60 hours that Gazans’ eyes, like mine, haven’t closed for some sleep. Dozens are missing, in the hospitals there are desperate women looking for their husbands, their sons, for two days, often in vain. It’s a macabre sight at the morgue. A nurse told me that after hours of searching amongst the pieces of the bodies at the morgue, a Palestinian woman recognized her husband from an amputated hand. That’s all that remained of her husband, with his wedding ring still on [...]

On the Israeli side, four people have been killed.

I’m not going to go into who is to blame, what this means, etc,, since that’s not the purpose of this blog.

I will, however, give you a brief impression of how Palestinian Muslim women are being represented on Arab TV, making it clear that the Arabic press is not only biased, but doesn’t exactly try its best to be objective. So over here, you will hear nothing about Israeli protests, only about the gleeful Israelis, happy that the Palestinian terrorists are getting their just rewards.

That’s not to say that western media isn’t also biased—but at least in this scenario, although Palestinian rock throwers are the images that appear in several papers, and statements such as “The onus is on Hamas” and “It is war to the bitter end [on Hamas]” (The Daily Telegraph, The Independent) are aplenty, the numbers at least speak for themselves. Other ‘western’ papers have gone as far as to say Israel’s actions were ‘disproportionate,’ though very few have actually condemned its actions or pointed out that Israel won’t allow journalists into Gaza.

A woman weeps among the rubble of her destroyed house in the Jabalia refuegee camp. Image via Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse -- Getty Images

A woman weeps among the rubble of her destroyed house in the Jabalia refuegee camp. Image via Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse -- Getty Images

The Arab media’s agenda is to turn public sympathy towards Palestinians, and as we all know, TV is much more adept at tugging at people’s heartstrings than mere words are.

So on Arab TV, we are constantly bombarded by images of lamenting, wailing women and dead children. True, the women aren’t the ones who are dying, but the media portrays them at those who are losing the most. Their keening wails and heartfelt emotion is stronger than the images of dead children, which unfortunately have come to resemble nothing more than movie props in gory looking stage makeup.

“Men are just losing their lives,” croaked one old wrinkled grandmother, wearing torn clothes dusty with rubble and splattered with what seems to be blood, huddled under a makeshift plastic tent. “I have lost my sons, my sons-in-law, my grandchildren, and even my house. I’ve even lost my pots and pans. I have nothing. We have nothing. It’s like we are flies being swatted. Less than that even.”

Palestinian women, as Egyptian journalist Amal Sorour noted when she traveled to the territories recently “believe in continuously giving birth in order not to become extinct, because they are always getting killed.”

The Baloosh family, who had seven daughters and two boys, prove Sorour’s words correct: The deaths of five of those daughters is on every TV station.

An Israeli bomb struck the Imad Aqil mosque at the Jabaliya refugee camp, destroying it and several buildings around it, including the Baloosh family home. The seven eldest sisters were sleeping on mattresses in one room, and five of them were killed: Tahrir, 17, Ikram 15, Samer, 13, Dina, 8 and Jawahar, 4. May God give them peace.

Family of Haya and Lama Hamdan of Beit Hanoun. Image via Khalil Hamra/Associated Press.

Family at the funeral of Haya and Lama Hamdan of Beit Hanoun. Image via Khalil Hamra/Associated Press.

The Arab media is also keen to show us the huge queues outside bakeries, with women and children of all ages hoping to buy a few measly loaves.

No mention is made of Hamas policewomen, or of any woman playing any other role than the victim.

But I can’t say I really blame the media. Maybe even more than the deaths of innocent children, I feel for the mothers, who are mostly helpless. Their lives, already difficult—with ‘honor killings‘ and the numbers of battered and sexually abused women in the Gaza strip spiking dramatically ever since the siege began—have become impossible. I cannot even begin to contemplate what it must be like to not be able to protect your children.

“It is my daughter Noor’s birthday on January 1,” concludes Palestinian journalist El-Haddad. “She will be one year old. I cannot help but think: who was born in bloodied Gaza today?”

Let’s hope the New year brings an end to this seemingly endless war.

  • Rchoudh

    I am just pissed beyond belief at the world’s seeming indifference to these events. It’s like everybody’s become used to hearing about a couple hundred Palestinians dying every so often. I especially hate the :”Muslim leaders” for their fake indignation; don’t get me started on the other world leaders like America. You know I was reading the news recently and there was picture of a beautiful Palestinian child being buried. My six year old daughter saw the picture and asked what happened to the girl and that was the first time I told her how people die and their bodies get buried. She was of course frightened at first at the thought of being buried but then I told her that when people die their souls have already left their bodies and soon aftewards they will start experiencing either Jannat or Jahannum in their graves.
    Finally when she asked me how the girl was killed I told some bad people killed her (please understand that I did not identify who the people were and I’m not the type to label certain entire groups as being bad or good). I then realized that no matter what we try we can’t shield our children 100% from the realities of life and that according to age we have to explain to them these realities every time they come across them.

  • Ruchama

    Just an update on the press ban, since that article you linked is from November — the Israeli Supreme Court has proposed letting in journalists in groups of 12 each time the border is opened for humanitarian aid. The government is “considering” it. Not perfect, but it’s something. http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/12/31/news/ML-Israel-Journalists-Banned.php

  • Eliza

    With all due respect to the fact that this wonderful group blog is doing an excellent role in criticizing media’s portrayal of women, I think this statement is extremely insensitive: “or of any woman playing any other role than the victim.”

    Facing the grim reality that you will lose someone you love in the most gruesome way possible, or crying and wailing at the loss of your 5 daughters is NOT “playing the role of the victim”. There is no role-playing going on in Gaza.

    I’m sorry, Ethar. I usually enjoy reading your posts, but this was just beyond me.

  • laila

    You know what I find extremely insensitive the Arab and Muslim media’s neglect of the Genocide in Darfur. By the way Darfurians are a population of 95% Muslim EXCEPT their BLACK and their attackers are not Israelis or Americans but in fact Arab Muslims. This explains the lack of coverage of Darfur on Arab Media (such as Al Jazeera and etc.). At least Palestinian Muslim women are being presented on Arab Media, unlike Darfurian Muslim Women. Which illustrates that the Arab media is very biased because like this coverage their constantly presenting the role of victim and yet the Arab Media is reluctant to demonise their own Arabs in the case of Darfur.
    Always the victim never the Bad guy, “sigh”.

    If Arabs are the not victims and the other people the perpetrators /aggressors than don’t except the Arab Media /TV to show it.

    I wonder Ethar, if the images constantly bombarded of wailing women were not Palestinians but Darfurians, would Arab public sympathy be any different???????

    I can’t decide if Arab media is in denial when it comes to always playing the victim or simply RACIST when it concerns Darfurians.

    @Rchoudh

    “I am just pissed beyond belief at the world’s seeming indifference to these events.” The Western Media wasn’t indifferent to the events in Darfur, it extensively covered it— Does that count for anything? Is it worth anything?

  • Ethar

    @ Rchoudh: I know what you mean. But unfortunately, the way of the world is that we are impacted most by things in our own sphere of existence. The further away things are from us—not only geographically but it terms of nationality, ethnicity etc—the more they seem ‘unreal’ to us.

    Plus, we get desensitized. It’s even worse on my side of the world, because our media, especially Al-Jazeera, suffer no qualms about showing us the most gory, horrible footage ever. 5 years ago, we were shocked. Now, it fails to register in our consciousness that these are actually real people suffering.

    @ Ruchama: ‘Considering’ being the key word there.

    @ Eliza: I think you misunderstood me here, and I’m sorry if my words were understood in a different way to what I meant when I wrote them. I wasn’t, of course, trying to say that the role of the victim was somehow ‘less’ than any other role women could be undertaking. Not role-playing, per se, but the roles women undertake Ex fighting back, nurses, helping others etc. The same goes for men: Arab media will show them shouting at the occupation, while other media might show them firing rockets. The media will show us the images that best fit their purpose.

    @ laila: I totally 100% agree. Like I was saying to Rchoudh, the ‘further’ away things seem from us, the more abstract they become. And yes, I’ll be completely honest and tell you that the Arab media is racist—I can’t even remember the last time I read an article or editorial in Egypt that talked passionately about Darfur and how the people being killed were also our ‘brothers and sisters’ in Islam. And it’s doubly worse because those killing them are essentially, us.

    I can’t say if public sympathy would be the same if we saw the same images of Darfurian Muslim women, but if I were to guess, I’d say no.

  • Eliza

    I know you didn’t mean to be insensitive, but it just seems to me that you’re squeezing the event a little too much for the sake of feminist criticism… Actually, Al Jazeera, for example, shows a lot of Palestinian women in “proactive” situations – their amazingly brave correspondents, both in Gaza and the West Bank. They show Arab women in many demonstrations across the Arab world – shouting against the occupation and against impotent Arab regimes. They also show a lot of men crying and wailing and sitting on top of their demolished homes, not just shouting at the occupation.

    Also, you said “The media will show us the images that best fit their purpose.”… What do you assume their purpose is?

  • Rchoudh

    @Laila

    I believe that no mainstream media in the world, whether in the West or the Muslim world, is untainted by political, nationalistic, and racist assumptions prevalent throughout that society. Like in America the media downplays the atrocities committed in certain places (Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan) by not showing too many images and by not focusing enough critical coverage upon what’s going on there. Why? Because either its own military or its allies are either directly or indirectly responsibly for these atrocities. Meanwhile, atrocities that were committed in Sudan, Bosnia and Chechnya in the 90′s, and in Georgia now are given extensive coverage because they are being committed by outside powers (Serbia, Russia, and in Sudan by Arabs with China indirectly abetting it). Based on this, I think we can conclude that Western MSM is nowhere near being free and fair.

    As for Arab media I can certainly imagine it being biased because of the despotic regimes ruling much of the Arab world and also because of Arab society’s own racist, nationalistic, and political agendas. I don’t know if this still takes place but I remember my friend who’s Bengali telling me that her Egyptian husband said that he never learned about Bangladesh being a Muslim country while studying in Egypt because in Egyptian textbooks back then they only focused on the Middle East as being part of the Ummah! It’s unfortunate that it is the way it is, but it’s true. I just think we have to realize that nowhere is the world is the media unbiased and fair.

  • Rchoudh

    @ Ethar

    You’re right to mention about how people’s indifference grows the further away they are from the atrocities occurring elsewhere. I would like to add that it’s the media that also helps in creating this terrible unconcern for fellow human beings. While in the Arab world you have people becoming desensitized to all the violence being shown with no call for action and help, in America you have this news competing for airspace with the latest celebrity gossip and absolutely no gory images to behold (other than a few pictures and videos of funeral processions).

  • Dude

    @Rchoudh:

    I am just pissed beyond belief at the world’s seeming indifference to these events.

    I don’t mean to belittle the events, but the world regularly shows greater indifference to events of both similar and much greater magnitudes. Let me give some examples, and be honest to yourself when I ask the questions (rhetorical questions – you need not reply here)

    1. Just during the beginning of the shelling of Gaza, in the Democratic Republic of Congo a raid killed 189 people in roughly a day. Since then, more have died and the toll exceeds 400 now. The Lord’s Resistance Army – a fundamentalist Christian terrorist group based in Uganda is being accused (although they are currently denying it – however, the methodology was similar to their previous attacks). People were hacked to death, including in a church.
    (On a side note, think of how much press it would generate if a killing of this magnitude was committed by Muslim terrorists).

    Same timeframe, similar number of deaths. Much smaller media exposure. The “world”, as you put it, is indifferent.

    2. Speaking of the DR Congo, over 5 million lives have been lost due to the effects of civil war and rebel attacks in the last 10 years. That’s the greatest number of casualties in any conflict since WW II. Routinely ignored in the press, with the occasional mention here and there. I think that’s a much greater “offense” than the way people are treating the Gaza shelling. I believe MMW has highlighted the rape issue in DRC (epidemic proportions, and quite horrific without delving into details).

    3. At about the same time as the Mumbai terrorist attacks, communal violence killed about 400 people in the city of Jos, Nigeria. The violence was between Muslims and Christians over the result of some elections. Compare the coverage they received with the Mumbai coverage.

    Examples like these abound in any given year.

    Now ask yourself: How much time do you spend following these events, and being concerned with the people there? If not much, why expect people to be concerned with what’s going on in Gaza?

    Unfortunately, people do pick and choose the conflicts and the peoples they commiserate with. I personally feel the press should be a lot more objective, and I feel they should give coverage in proportion to the crisis (which would mean that I’d like the press coverage of the ongoing conflict in the DRC to eclipse most crises in the world – including the current one in Gaza). I have my own biases at a personal level – who I’m friends with, etc. But on humanitarian concerns, my goal is to be both religion-blind, race-blind and nation-blind.

    PS. Wrote the above before I read the other replies. Still…

  • Ruchama

    Looks like Israel is going to allow in 8 foreign journalists each time it opens the Erez crossing. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/02/israel-gaza-media-access

  • Rchoudh

    @dude

    You’re right about the world’s indifference to the many tragic events around the world, whether they be in Palestine or in DR Congo. There’s also terrible unconcern for the poor and needy around the world, whose problems don’t get any media attention 99% of the time. I would say there’s also a racist element involved also in deciding what gets covered and what doesn’t just like there are geopolitical and nationalistic elements involved. Brown or black people killing each other or getting killed by whites don’t elicit that much sympathy from the world unfortunately. By talking about how pissed I was at the events in Palestine I was in no way trying to say that this event deserves priority attention over all others. I was just pissed at how according to America the white Israelis were under constant seige and just had to defend themselves from those brown savage Palestinians (never mind the months long blockade Israel imposed upon Gaza since June 2007). Believe me I try very hard to understand the geopolitical situation behind conflicts throughout the world whether they occur in Muslim or nonMuslim lands. It’s necessary for people to realize what’s going on in the world and how stupid corrupt leaders the world over are leading humans towards the path to ruin.

  • Rchoudh

    Just to clarify when I talked about the coverage of Gaza it’s like they weren’t even trying to be fair with it, even though they took the time and effort to report on it. They weren’t highlighting the wrongdoing done by both Israelis and Palestinians, instead making it seem like the Israelis were victims (yet again) and just acting out in self defense.

  • Sticks

    “I don’t mean to belittle the events, but the world regularly shows greater indifference to events of both similar and much greater magnitudes. ”

    You hit it right on the mark.
    I find it interesting that Muslims choose to only rally around one cause, one country. I have no objection to people getting outraged at the situation in Palestine, but I do have an objection that we (not all, just appears to be the majority) don’t give a shit when it’s happening elsewhere.

  • a

    @ Sticks:
    So long as they ARE trying to help something, help people, what’s your problem? Muslims DO support aid towards helping the Darfur crisis–just because this particular post on this particular blog isn’t about it, doesn’t mean we’re mute & accepting it. Do your research on the facts, the donations & aid given by Muslim countries all over the world, for other issues, before stating that we “don’t give a shit when it’s happening elsewhere.” Saudi Arabia, by the way, ranks NUMBER ONE contributor of foreign aid. To all sorts of causes.

    The ongoing, by which I mean years & years, situation with the Palestinians, by which I mean murder/torture/general suffering, has reached a ridiculous ridiculous level. Israel is friggin supported by the world power in these crimes. Doesn’t that alone justify focusing on this issue? Doesn’t it show something’s immensely wrong?

  • http://www.stop-stoning.org Rochelle

    @ a:

    Where are you getting that Saudi Arabia is the number one contributor to foreign aid?

    The UNDP would contradict you: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/eco_com_to_for_aid-economy-commitment-to-foreign-aid

    Other reports, using different methodologies (per capita vs. percentage of military expendature, public vs. private, etc.) says the US is the largest contributor: http://www.america.gov/st/foraid-english/2007/May/20070524165115zjsredna0.2997553.html
    (Index of Global Philanthropy)

    Sorry, don’t mean to get off topic, but I can’t let that one slide.

    And I’m not trying to in anyway gloss over the plight of the Palestinians, but when was the last time you saw an article in the Arab or any media on the Congo? How much aid does Saudi Arabia, or the US, or anyone give to the DRC?

  • Dude

    @a:

    At an individual level, of course everyone has the right to pick and choose. As you imply, there’s nothing wrong with me picking one crisis over another – I can’t take care of all of them. It’d sure be great if the people I personally know who care about the Gaza conflict would tolerate others lack of concern given that they themselves seem to have a lack of concern for other suffering.

    However, when there is strong support at a societal level, it is an indicator of inherent societal bias, which I think should be of concern to those who live in it.

    And there certainly is a hypocrisy involved. When crises like the current one in Gaza occurs, the media in various countries (e.g. Arab ones) insist something should be done about it because it is a humanitarian crisis. Yet you don’t get anywhere near that level in those media outlets for commensurate crises elsewhere.

    The hypocrisy is the invokation of the humanitarian crisis argument. Had they simply said “We should do something about the problem in Gaza because we support our Palestinian brothers”, I’d have less of an issue because at least they’re being forthright about their reasoning.

    (Not picking on just Arab media – the same goes for other countries, and for those supporting Israel).

    The ongoing, by which I mean years & years, situation with the Palestinians, by which I mean murder/torture/general suffering, has reached a ridiculous ridiculous level. Israel is friggin supported by the world power in these crimes. Doesn’t that alone justify focusing on this issue?

    No more than for similar or greater problems in other parts of the world. No one here is saying “Ignore Gaza”. What I am saying is that at a collective level, if you’re going to worry about Gaza using those arguments, then you should worry about other crises as well.

    I personally don’t speak much about Darfur, because I never understood that conflict well. However, if I just look at mortality statistics, it was never that bad in Gaza over such a sustained period. Yes, the Israeli conflict goes back 60 years, but almost all of it is low intensity conflict (compared to Darfur and the Congo.)

  • http://forgetbaghdad.blogspot.com Nadia

    Well the indifferences are different. In one case people are indifferent because of a lack of coverage, in another people are indifferent despite the information being right in front of their faces, and asking why a situation that has gone on for decades with the consent and financial support of one particular world power to one side of the conflict still can’t reach a resolution. They are just different situations and different questions. It is still a humanitarian problem, the fact that there are political dimensions to the crisis doesn’t negate the humanity of the people involved. In this case what does that have to do with “brotherhood” and why is that the only honest answer?

    Likewise in any thread I ever see about Darfur people will point out that war in Somalia or Congo aren’t getting the attention Sudan is. We could also talk about as well Zimbabwe, the terrorist attacks in India that didn’t kill westerners and weren’t extensively covered in the press, the 10000 people killed in the new “calm” Iraq last year, why Kurds in Iraq get more attention than oppression of Kurds get attention anywhere else, it’s a rhetorical game that we can go on playing forever, but I don’t know that it helps anything.

  • Sobia

    Interesting debate about the importance of humanitarian crises. Here is how I see it.

    The Palestinian issue is rarely depicted in Western media as a crisis. It is always a “they asked for it” situation. The genocide of the Palestinians is outright denied in Western media. No one in our media is even willing to refer to this as a genocide, even though according to the international definition the situation would fit. I think that is why many Muslims are more sensitive about this cause – no one else even wants to acknowledge it let alone care.

    I think this may explain *part* (only part) of why many Muslims may not pay as much attention to other causes – they may feel that the Palestinian cause is ignored by the world so why should they care about that cause. If they don’t pay attention to the Palestinian cause then who will.

    However, I have to admit, that the reaction of Muslims to the genocide in Darfur is disappointing nonetheless.

  • Dude

    @Rochelle:

    The Nationmaster link was confusing. What are the units (per capita? GDP? etc)?

    The second link (Index of Global Philanthropy) places the US at the top in overall aid. As a percentage of gross national income, it is not at the top. Also, from what I could tell looking at the actual Index (2008), it seems they only looked at OECD countries, of which no Muslim country is a member. The Index didn’t say this explicitly – in fact, from a brief glance, I couldn’t see any mention of which countries they looked at…

    As for Saudi Arabia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saudi_foreign_assistance

    I only looked at one or two of the sources – would like to hear from anyone who wants to bother going into it in detail – I’m too lazy. And yes, until recently it was limited to Muslim countries. One of the references (Telegraph) did point out that it has given the most aid per capita over a fairly long period…

    @Nadia:

    In one case people are indifferent because of a lack of coverage

    Which is the complaint. Also, it’s somewhat of a circular argument – coverage and concern are not disconnected – the more the coverage, the more the concern, which simply leads to more coverage.

    In this case what does that have to do with “brotherhood” and why is that the only honest answer?

    Because the other answers I’ve been given don’t hold up. If they (individuals, that is) invoke “humanitarian crisis”, and are then informed about other such crises, they don’t appear to be all that concerned or motivated to find out what is going on (and they don’t dispute it either – so it’s not a case of disbelief). That’s a clear sign that there is a bigger and/or different reason for their concern.

    it’s a rhetorical game that we can go on playing forever, but I don’t know that it helps anything.

    The Darfur campaign didn’t just arise soon after the problems began. It took a while to gain momentum. Perhaps there was political expediency as well (I really don’t know), but I think the awareness was brought about quite a bit by a lot of people simply bringing it to others’ attention – till it hit critical mass.

    And perhaps it’ll be the same for Congo. A few groups/individuals have been bringing it up for a few years now (and perhaps longer – I only heard about it around then). At least now there is significantly more exposure and I’m seeing it more often in mainstream media (well, prior to Gaza and Mumbai at least). It’s quite late – over 5 million dead, but better late than never.

    There’s another dimension to all of this, and one of the reasons I tend to bring it up.

    Prior to the Rwandan genocide, there were 500,000 Muslims there. 10 years later, there were a million. A doubling in numbers. The percentage also doubled (7 to 14%), so it’s not simply population dynamics at work.

    What was the reason?

    1. They didn’t participate in the massacre.
    2. They sheltered some of the Tutsis. The general reports are that taking shelter in mosques and Muslim regions was quite effective – not so for churches.

    That appears to be about it. They didn’t actively go out and play a role in stopping the violence. They just kept their sanity and provided shelter. Yet it had a profound impact on many people – and you ended up with many of them becoming Muslims.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/07/international/africa/07RWAN.html?ex=1396756800&en=e0838186e9f4832f&ei=5007&partner=USERLAND&pagewanted=print

    Now areas like Palestine and Kashmir are “hard” problems. That they’ve gone on for so long is a testimony to how hard they are. I feel people are too busy focusing on difficult problems, making very slow progress, when there are potentially easy problems to solve elsewhere – and that would affect more people as well.

  • Dude

    Eh. Some of what I put in italics above is my text – must have forgotten an HTML tag somewhere.

  • Rchoudh

    @ everyone

    I can understand both sides of the argument. On the one hand you have a conflict like Palestine where there is endless coverage that is clearly biased towards the aggressor. Arabs and Muslims in general see this happening and become upset, hence all the vocal support for Palestinians(btw, I think another reason Muslims may latch onto Palestine is because of the religious significance of Masjid al-Aqsa). On the other hand you have some coverage of other events happening around the world, both in Muslim and non-Muslim lands, with everybody including Muslims being apathetic about them.
    I think for those of us who are aware of this uneven balance between different issues (Palestine vs. other conflicts) could try to first educate ourselves over any and every issue out there. First by finding out the background and history behind the conflict, then the geopolitical and/or domestic factors behind it today. Try hard to find out if/how outside powers are influencing the situation. Next we should try our best to make others aware of these issues and tell them that as Muslims we should stand for correcting injustices wherever and to whomever they occur. We should also remind each other how much Allah loves those who are just and bring all this back to how our standing in the Akhirah will be affected if we don’t show any concern for others because we were too busy indulging ourselves with dunya affairs. This compassion for others should extend to all not just to those of certain nationalities/races and not just to Muslims because it’s haraam to do otherwise. Finally we should expose to other the hypocrisies of those in power and how most of them are behind these conflicts and are being brought to account. If we don’t hold these rulers accountable and eventually preessure them to step down then their plots will eventually come to harm us. Just look at what happened to America because Americans weren’t too keen on learning about foreign affairs until fairly recently.

    After that we just leave the person to decide how they want to live. At least we can rest assured that through us more people will be more aware of what’s going on around them.

  • a

    @ Rochelle:
    “Sorry, don’t mean to get off topic, but I can’t let that one slide.”

    I understand, but it wasn’t my intention to “slide” it past you guys. I got it from here & took it at face value:
    http://www.saudi-us-relations.org/newsletter2005/saudi-relations-interest-02-24.html
    “On a per capita basis, Saudi Arabia is the leading foreign aid donor among the community of nations.”

  • a

    @ Rochelle again:
    “but when was the last time you saw an article in the Arab or any media on the Congo”

    It seems you’re not a regular reader of the Arab News.Of course, since the Gaza airstrike, it’s been all Gaza Gaza Gaza–but pick up an issue from before that. The Bangladeshi floods? Made headlines in the Arab News. Same goes for Darfur issue & the Pakistani/Kashmiri earthquakes. I’m just citing a few examples from the top of my head, but if you pick up back issues from the Arab media (as in, previous to this recent attack, because obviously, this is the big thing of the moment}, I’m sure you’ll find others.

    @ Dude: The Palestine issue’s been a psychological wound in the Arab world since it began. (Pick up Edward Said’s ‘The Question of Palestine, for starters, if you’re clueless). I think this justifies the media’s focus. If your whole neighbourhood were on fire, would you be more concerned about your house or your neighbour’s?

    And you are completely ignoring the fact that the whole Muslim world (Pakistan, UAE, whatever) contributes significantly to other humanitarian issues despite their own financial and political problems.

    It’s just frustrating to me that some people can go looking for faults in these nations instead of the facts. Criticizing is easier than supporting a good cause, perhaps.

  • a

    P.S. Sobia, you are totally right.

  • http://forgetbaghdad.blogspot.com Nadia

    Let me be more clear and even more blunt, I don’t think this should be a matter of “do these people look like me/belong to the same religion as me”.

    What I’m interested in is what it would take to get the situation to stop. If you’re in America, your government’s influence on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is far, far greater than on Sudan or what’s happening in Tibet. I think that is pretty obvious and not hard at all, and the obstacles are not really all that difficult or complicated, the obstable is a political one.

    I don’t understand what the point was about Rwanda, increasing the number of Muslims worldwide is an incentive for helping non-Muslims? I hope people would believe in helping others because it’s the right thing to do, period. I hope most people that are concerned about Israel/Palestine would take the same approach.

  • http://forgetbaghdad.blogspot.com Nadia

    ..though Sobia also made a great point.

  • Dude

    @a:

    If your whole neighbourhood were on fire, would you be more concerned about your house or your neighbour’s?

    Not at all – as I said, I’m fine with people giving preference to some over others – provided they admit to it. When I donate to charity, I do give more weight to local problems in my city than I do to much greater humanitarian crises elsewhere (perhaps contradicting an earlier statement I made). I am more likely to help someone I know than one I don’t.

    It’s when people pretend otherwise that I get irritated. They try to use it as a way to elicit sympathies for their causes, and are frankly trying to mislead.

    And you are completely ignoring the fact that the whole Muslim world (Pakistan, UAE, whatever) contributes significantly to other humanitarian issues despite their own financial and political problems.

    As countries at an official level, I don’t know the details. At the individual level, this was not what I witnessed in two of the aforementioned countries. Whenever there was a donation drive, it was for a select few regions. Charity boxes at public places were again limited to those few regions. Even some charities that I approached individually limited their work to a few regions.

    I’m not criticizing them for it. If a charity just picks one place and focuses on it, that’s quite OK – they can’t deal with the whole world’s problems.

    Look, perhaps my point is not clear to fathom in all the rants I’ve posted here. It’s simply this: Whenever an event like Gaza occurs, or even in the past few months over there where the conditions were quite poor (sewage, food, etc), a common refrain among both individuals and often repeated in the media is: “Why is everyone ignoring us?” – with a very strong implication of everyone being at fault. And my answer is always: “The same reason you ignore many other problems elsewhere.” It’s not a justification for it – but it is the reason.

    Yes, the Arab News is quite comprehensive in their international coverage – especially the print version (one of the best small newspapers I’ve seen in this regard). Yet, when I talk to most people living in Saudi Arabia (English speaking or otherwise), they’re clueless on many problems in the world – even those that probably are in Arab News. So if they don’t care much about the world’s problems, why should they be surprised if the world doesn’t care much about theirs?

    Again, I’m not upset when people focus on their own – be it geographically, ethnically, or religiously. Just admit it to yourselves, and it will explain some of the dilemmas in your minds, and better help you come up with strategies in solving problems.

    @Nadia:

    What I’m interested in is what it would take to get the situation to stop.

    Yes – your interest. Don’t automatically expect others to share it, and don’t judge them if they don’t. Why should they?

    If you’re in America, your government’s influence on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is far, far greater than on Sudan or what’s happening in Tibet.

    Which is perhaps a reason for some people in the US to be more concerned with this problem than with others. I’m glad you’re not invoking humanitarian concerns as the primary reason.

    I don’t understand what the point was about Rwanda, increasing the number of Muslims worldwide is an incentive for helping non-Muslims? I hope people would believe in helping others because it’s the right thing to do, period. I hope most people that are concerned about Israel/Palestine would take the same approach.

    No – you’re reading too literally. The point was that a mostly symbolic move had such a huge impact on the people. In certain crises, it need not take much to get very positive results. If they’re neglected (which I think they are), then great opportunities for effecting change are being lost – particularly in preference to those that are relatively fruitless.

    I think that is pretty obvious and not hard at all, and the obstacles are not really all that difficult or complicated, the obstable is a political one.

    And that’s precisely what makes it hard. All major crises are ultimately either economical or political. Stating it doesn’t make it easier.

    We’re going off track, but where I live, most of the Muslims supported Obama, who, since becoming a Senator, went to great pains to distance himself from Muslims, and to equally great pains to cozy himself up with the pro-Israel crowd. All other candidates were deemed impractical to support by the locals, so it was all about Obama.

    One of those other candidates was one of the only members of Congress to criticize Israel for its actions. And when it comes to issues dear to many Muslims in the US, he’s historically done well. But of course, support for him (at least where I live) was low.

    You (meaning those who voted for him) get who you elect. Don’t be dismayed at his non-response – it was a compromise you willingly made. His current nonresponse is quite characteristic of him on this issue – it’s not exactly a surprise given his past behavior. Furthermore, a message is sent out to a lot of well meaning politicians that you don’t need to cater to Muslims to have their support in elections. And thus the cycle is bound to repeat.

    (Nothing unique to Muslims, BTW).

  • http://muslimahmediawatch.org/ Fatemeh

    Okay. I’m officially closing the comments.

    I’m sorry, Ethar! This comment thread has become derailed into politics and semantics, neither having much to do with the post.

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