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!
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • 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.