What do Gaza and Eastern Ukraine share?

The catastrophe in Gaza is awful. But there is also mayhem in East Ukraine.

Maria Dubovikova

Published: Updated:

We are living in an epoch of great shocks and human tragedies. And media corporations play a big role in covering those tragic events that form and shape public opinion, by changing the way we perceive ongoing events.

The mass media has the power to draw away the attention of general public from one crisis to another. Politics plays a special role here, as the coverage changes according to the dominant international agenda.

The media game becomes evident if we analyze two big events that are taking place now - the conflict in the Gaza strip and the violent events in Ukraine.

The death toll in the Gaza crisis continues to grow. During Israel’s ground operation, the average death toll has risen to more than 1,000 civilians.

Indeed, this is a truly human and humanitarian catastrophe. Practically all over the world the public opinion has strongly risen in support for Gaza. The war of hashtags and information has begun in social media networks among pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian individuals. Large rallies and demonstrations in support for Gaza have taken place in numerous cities around the world.

Social and traditional media are full of heartbreaking photos and videos showing the ugly and devastating face of tragedies, bodies of dead children, inconsolable parents, wounded people. The reaction is obvious – it is the justified indignation of public opinion with Israel’s cruel operation that the causes death of many innocent people.

Media blackout

However at the same time, in Europe, the bombing of a city and its citizens by one government passes by with practically a blackout from international media outlets. The matter concerns the city of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.

Kiev’s army recently bombed the city, the latest in an offensive that has led to the deaths of 250 civilians and the wounding of 850, the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission reported.

The mass media has the power to draw away the attention of general public from one crisis to another

Maria Dubovikova

No doubt these cases are different. After more than 60 years of oppression, Israeli operations and wars, in which Israel always had military superiority not only over the Palestinians, but over its regional neighbors to - owing to the intense assistance of Israeli Western allies - the longest conflict of our days made the Palestinian people a symbol of resistance, faith and will.

In the case of eastern Ukraine, of two self-proclaimed states – the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic – the story is different. The conflict continues after several months. After the coup in February that toppled President Viktor Yanukovich, society has split into pieces, erupting from the everlasting schisms in Ukraine. After the crisis, the people of Eastern Ukraine called for federalism and respect for the Russian speaking population and their rights.

What came next was Kiev’s prohibitive laws that have ruined all hopes to settle the discord peacefully. So as the resistance became tougher, the call for separation rose.

As to how many people have already died over the course of the conflict – nobody can say at the moment. The Kiev government’s punitive operation continues. According to the U.N. refugee agency, more than 110,000 people from eastern Ukraine have fled to Russia, while 54,400 people have been internally displaced.

If we were to put aside the differences between conflicts, and leave only the core of the tragedies remaining – human sufferings – remaining, the question arises as to why we talk about Gaza and why we keep silent about the tragedy in eastern Ukraine?

No condemnation

Why don’t we condemn the Kiev government for the pitiless suppression of dissidents, of those who have another point of view (I mean civilians, not the armed rebels here), we, the democrats and self-proclaimed humanists?

Do we keep silent about the tragedy, being afraid for the newborn “democracy”? We can consider the rebels however we like, but there are ordinary civilians – children, women and the elderly – caught up in the crisis.

There are those who suffer just because they disagree with Kiev, those who do not consider Russia their enemy. These people just have a conviction that differ from what Kiev wants and thinks. Do we keep silence, because those who like Russia and consider it as an ally have no right to be protected and helped? Or do we prefer to badger everything and everyone who is pro-Russian and to condemn to devastation and sufferings? And after this will we still consider ourselves democrats and humanists?

There are practically no bloggers or journalists who could launch a huge campaign in support of those people suffering in eastern Ukraine, in Luhansk and Donetsk, in villages, that are in the path of this devastating war, of another human tragedy.

If they are – they are automatically put on the blacklist, as considered pro-Russian, as Kremlin propaganda.

One can hardly find on the internet devastating photos of ruined buildings, dead people, and touching photos of crying children of east Ukraine. But if you don’t find them, if you don’t see them on your Facebook timeline or Twitter, if there are no words about them on you TV, in newspapers you got used to read, it doesn’t mean that there is no tragedy.

People really are dying under the bombings of the Ukrainian army. The catastrophe in Gaza is awful. But there is also mayhem in east Ukraine. All human life is priceless.

Maria Dubovikova is a co-founder of IMESClub (International Middle Eastern Studies Club), IMESClub Executive Director and member of the Club Council, author of several scientific articles and participant of several high level international conferences. She is a permanent member of the Think-tank under the American University in Moscow. Alumni of MGIMO (Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia) (honors diploma), she had been working for three months as a trainee at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI) in Paris. Now she is a PhD Candidate at MGIMO (Department of International Relations and Foreign Policy of Russia). Her research field is Russian foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, the policy of France and the US towards the Mediterranean, theory of international relations, humanitarian interventions and etc. Fluently speaks and writes in French and English. She can be followed on Twitter: @politblogme

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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