Global Calculus of Horror and Destruction

Why Do Some Conflicts Get More Attention Than Others?

By J.J. Goldberg

Published November 22, 2012, issue of November 30, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

On Tuesday, November 20, while negotiators from at least six nations, two terrorist movements and the United Nations were working frantically in Cairo and Jerusalem to nail down the details of an Israeli-Hamas cease-fire, the violence in the field was continuing and reaching new heights.

Rockets killed two Israelis that day, bringing Israel’s death toll in the weeklong flare-up to five, including four civilians. At least 150 rockets were fired at Israel, including, for the second time in a week, a rocket that was aimed at Jerusalem but landed in the West Bank. Targeting Jerusalem was a particularly shocking escalation, given that a poorly aimed rocket fired at Israel’s capital might just as easily hit an Arab neighborhood as it would have a Jewish one. A bus bombing in Tel Aviv the next day, the first in six years, only heightened tensions.

On the Gaza side, 31 Palestinians were killed that Tuesday in Israeli attacks on 130 targets, according to Reuters. That brought the seven- day death toll in the Hamas-ruled enclave to about 135, including 53 civilians. Another six Gazans were shot to death on the street by Hamas gunmen on suspicion of collaborating with Israel.

The week of Israeli-Palestinian bloodletting riveted the world’s attention and dominated headlines. But it was not the only killing in the region, or the worst. In Syria that Tuesday, 61 people were killed in fighting, bringing the death toll in that country’s 20-month civil war to nearly 38,000, according to the rebel-linked Violations Documentation Center. Of those killed that day, 29 died in a clash in the mostly Kurdish village of Ras al-Ain, near the Turkish border, between free Syrian army rebels, who had captured the village that day, and rebels linked to the Kurdish Workers Party, who are fighting their own liberation war against Turkey, the Syrian rebels’ ally.

Some 2,300 miles due south that day, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a Tutsi rebel militia known as M23 captured the eastern provincial capital of Goma after four days of fighting that killed 151 people. It was the latest round in a civil war that began in 1998 — itself a spinoff off the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda — and was supposed to end in 2003, when a treaty was signed, but didn’t. The 14-year conflict has left an estimated 5.4 million dead, either from fighting or from disease and deliberate starvation directly related to the fighting. It’s the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II, and it won’t end.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.