And it has nothing to do with ignorance or racism…
Disclaimer: I am not a psychologist, I have only ever taken a university elective in social psychology and dabble in armchair psychology.
It is easier for many people, especially in affluent countries to emphasise with the Israelis in Sderot under fire from the Qassam rockets because:
- Like them they live in relative security and peace
- Like them they enjoy a high standard of living.
- Like them they do not have 10 kids as the norm (or so the media portrays)
So imagine the scenario, you are sitting in your garden, or in the local cafe, enjoying a brisk and sunny winters day, you’re chatting with your friends, then all of a sudden WAAAW! The sirens screech their warning, you run to the nearest basement, and a few minutes later, BOOM! an explosion rocks you where you stand. You know it is a rocket, and that it has hit somewhere near where you were hiding, it may have hurt or even killed someone. You think, next time it might be me. This attack has shaken your overall feeling of safety, and you are left paralyzed with fear. Imagine this happened in London, where there have been attacks on the underground, the 7/7 for example or the older IRA attacks. It is so much easier to put yourself in the shoes of the Sderotis and envision their fear.
It is hard for people to fully comprehend and hence fully emphasise with the Gazans because:
- Unlike them they live with the constant bombardment, be it bombings, nightly sonic booms or sniper shootings.
- Unlike them they live in abject poverty, with people recently reduced to picking through rubbish heaps for food to eat.
- Unlike them they do not have small families.
The fear that is felt when a bomb drops may be equal to that of the Sderotis (I thankfully have not the experience to be sure about this), but the effects are more devasting. Whole buildings are destroyed, entire families wiped out, parents losing 5 children in one blast. Westerners cannot imagine having 5 children, never mind losing them in one go! Their bombardement is constant and unrelenting. Even before the lastest attacks they were suffering due to lack of food, medicine and fuel. The pre-attack psychological warfare is extremely difficult in envisage. People honestly feel that if the bombardement is constant people somehow become immune, this is because they know that what those under attack are experiencing is horrific, and internalisng that can drive you mad, leave you numb or reduce you to floods of tears, so people shut down.
The western media does not show images of mass carnage, or dead bodies, or the bloodies bodies of dead babies, never mind the likes of the images shown on Al-Jazeera of three dead babies in a row. The sensibilities of westerners is a strongly protected state, and the sudden confrontation with such images, say in a rally, may actually be counter productive. They shut down and accuse the protester of barbarism, because how can they hold up pictures of dead babies?
I write this post to help us understand how to better promote the Palestinian cause in western countries.
Robert Fisk recently had an article in The Independent in which he overviews Israel’s propaganda war and how they manage to garner sympathy for the people of Sderot, where he says 20 Israelis have died in 10 years. They publish articles in the local papers, and confirming my theory, they relate to the people of that town. So for example, in Toronto they pro-Israel writers wrote:
“Suppose you lived in the Toronto suburb of Don Mills,” writes Gunter, “and people from the suburb of Scarborough – about 10 kilometres away – were firing as many as 100 rockets a day into your yard, your kid’s school, the strip mall down the street and your dentist’s office…”
Read the article here
An interesting perspective on the USA reaction to the loss of 2,974 lives in 9/11 (mainly adult) and the destruction of 3 buildings vs the acceptable response from Gaza after the death of 1,200 people (1/3 children) and the destruction of countless buoildings.
Feedback is appreciated.