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Selective outrage: Why the world ignores some conflicts while spotlighting others

1 min

In a world rife with deadly conflicts—from the ongoing violence in Ukraine, Sudan, and Myanmar to large-scale massacres in Syria and a brutal civil war in Yemen—the international community's focus seems disproportionately fixed on the Gaza conflict.

All other global conflicts are forgotten by the media © Mena Today 

In a world rife with deadly conflicts—from the ongoing violence in Ukraine, Sudan, and Myanmar to large-scale massacres in Syria and a brutal civil war in Yemen—the international community's focus seems disproportionately fixed on the Gaza conflict.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas, a group recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, and others, has indeed led to significant human suffering and political turmoil. 

Media outlets and international organizations often portray this conflict in stark, emotive terms, highlighting the plight of civilians in Gaza. However, this attention is contrasted starkly with the underreporting of other severe crises around the world.

In Syria, the civil war has claimed over half a million lives with millions more displaced, yet it garners a fraction of the global outcry seen in response to Gaza. 

Similarly, the extensive civilian casualties in Ukraine and Sudan, and the destructive jihadist insurgencies in West Africa and the Sahel region, receive comparatively muted international responses. 

This raises questions about why some conflicts seem to resonate more in the public and media narrative than others.

Media Influence and Public Perception

The media plays a pivotal role in shaping public perceptions of international events. The intense focus on Gaza can be attributed to a variety of factors, including geopolitical interests, historical contexts, and the presence of a highly organized and vocal international advocacy. 

These elements combine to amplify the situation in Gaza well beyond its relative scale of violence compared to other conflicts.

This selective attention has significant repercussions. It not only skews public understanding and response but also impacts where humanitarian aid and international diplomatic efforts are concentrated. While the civilians in Gaza certainly deserve attention and support, the lack of proportional coverage and outcry for victims of other conflicts represents a moral and ethical imbalance in global affairs.

The disparity in how global conflicts are reported and responded to suggests an urgent need for a more balanced approach in international media and policy-making. Recognizing and addressing the scale and impact of all conflicts, not just those that are more media-friendly or politically convenient, is crucial for achieving comprehensive and equitable global responses.

By Rosalyn Humer

The author is a professor of communication sciences at a university in New York

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