Campus protesters are ignoring tragedies around the globe

Around the world, there are many wars with horrendous death tolls, yet only the Israel-Hamas war has attracted the attention of protestors.

They ignore festering wars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where 6 million have been killed; Ethiopia, with 600,000 deaths; the Yemen civil war, with 377,000 deaths; the Ukraine-Russia conflict, with 50,000 to 80,000 killed so far; and the Sudanese War, with 15,000 deaths – not to mention Mexican cartel violence, which took the lives of 30,000 people last year alone.

As you read this, hundreds of women are being raped in the Democratic Republic of Congo; millions are starving in Sudan; dozens of civilians are being summarily executed in Ethiopia. Who has compassion on these innocent people on American campuses?

None of this excuses Israel’s actions, as the toll on civilians in the Gaza campaign has been horrific, with over 34,000 militants and civilians killed so far. However, it provides some context and raises the question of why protestors are concerned about this conflict but not others.

On October 7 last year Hamas attacked Israel, killing over 1,200 civilians. Israel reacted by initiating a military campaign into Gaza in an attempt to eradicate Hamas. In addition to the 34,000 casualties mentioned above, Israel’s reaction has led to the displacement of almost the entire population of Gaza, the destruction of nearly all public buildings and infrastructure, and the near collapse of the healthcare system.

There is no question that the civilians of Gaza are suffering. On the other hand, the protestors seem to have missed the point that this was Israel’s reaction to a terrorist attack. All countries react to terrorist attacks, while only Israel is being vilified. The devastation for civilians in Gaza is terrible, but it is comparable to what other people are suffering.

After September 11, 2001, the United States launched its War on Terror, targeting terrorist groups worldwide and initiating military operations in Afghanistan to dismantle al-Qaeda and remove the Taliban from power. The Afghanistan War began in 2001 and lasted until 2021, resulting in the deaths of over 241,000 people, including civilians, military personnel, and insurgents. The Iraq War began in 2003 and officially ended in 2011, with over 200,000 people killed, including many civilians.

Russia also faced Islamic extremist attacks, leading to two brutal wars in Chechnya. The First Chechen War (1994-1996) and the Second Chechen War (1999-2009) resulted in a combined 300,000 deaths. Similarly, when coalition forces confronted ISIS, hundreds of thousands were killed, including civilians, women, and youths under 18. Currently, US and coalition forces are conducting airstrikes against the Houthis in Yemen, adding to the death toll mentioned above.

Other countries are engaged in larger wars and broader counterterrorism campaigns, but only Israel is in the headlines.

One reason is simply ignorance caused by the general softening of society. People have forgotten that war is hell. Unfortunately, even with precision strikes aimed at military targets, civilians will die. Statistically, under-18s and women comprise more than two-thirds of the population, so they are more vulnerable. This is particularly true in Gaza, where Hamas fighters do not wear uniforms and can portray every casualty as a civilian. Hamas is literally hiding behind women and children, using them as human shields.

While the civilian death toll in Gaza is tragic, Hamas pulled the trigger. It knew that Israel would respond with overwhelming force and it chose to sacrifice civilians as part of its strategy.

Protestors’ reactions are driven by a combination of visibility, emotional resonance, and the frameworks through which people understand and engage with global issues. For one thing, the Israel-Palestine conflict receives continuous media coverage, making it more visible to the global public. The longstanding nature of the conflict, its centrality to Middle Eastern politics, and the involvement of major world powers contribute to its prominence.

The conflict resonates with broader social justice and anti-imperialist movements, particularly in Western countries. It is being framed in simplistic narratives of occupation and resistance, making it easier for activists to rally around compared to more complex conflicts like those in the DRC or Yemen.

Another reason is that this conflict takes place in the Holy Land, sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Given that most protesters are “progressives”, they tend to be non-religious or even anti-religious. How can they possibly understand the deep connection that the children of Abraham have to their homeland?

Underlying the protests is a deep vein of anti-semitism. The 1988 official Covenant of Hamas called for genocide against the Jews and the eradication of the state of Israel. A revised 2017 edition, while removing direct references to genocide, still calls for the elimination of Israel from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea, which means the annihilation of Israel.

When protestors chant “From the river to the sea,” they are effectively supporting genocide. Unfortunately, many of them are too ignorant to understand what they are saying. 


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October 7th was not just a crime; it was an existential threat to the very existence of Israel. It pushed Israel past the point where a proportional response would have sufficed as retaliation.

Hamas’s brutal calculus is that the more civilian casualties there are in Gaza, the more legitimate it becomes in the international community. Tragedy has become a strategy for Hamas’s leadership.

In fact, money is poised to flood into Gaza to rebuild once the fighting stops, and Palestine is now closer to statehood than ever before, with Norway, Spain, and Ireland already calling for recognition. Additionally, Hamas may achieve its goal of ruling over all the territory claimed by Palestine, not just Gaza. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), is now 88 years old. He has already lost control of some parts of the West Bank, and if there is a unification of the West Bank and Gaza, he is unlikely to maintain control of both.

In recent weeks, Hamas has raised the possibility of a Two-State Solution, something previously unthinkable but now supported by many countries. Hamas may just be biding its time, knowing that if it plays its cards right, it will achieve its goal of ruling over an independent Palestinian state, with substantial money and foreign investment flowing in from Arab nations and from Europe.

At least Israel is trying its best to minimize civilian deaths in its war, while Hamas is trying to maximise them. In a contest for the most brutal and cynical war strategy, Hamas wins, hands down. 

Why is no one protesting famine and genocide in Sudan? Tell us in the comments below. 

Antonio Graceffo, PhD, China-MBA MBA, is a China economic analyst teaching economics at the American University in Mongolia. He has spent 20 years in Asia and is the author of six books about China. His writing has appeared in The Diplomat, South China Morning Post, Jamestown Foundation China Brief, Penthouse, Shanghai Institute of American Studies, Epoch Times, War on the Rocks, Just the News, and Black Belt Magazine.

Image: burying the dead in Gaza / Fars photo / Wikimedia 


Showing 4 reactions

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  • David Page
    commented 2024-05-30 08:04:37 +1000
    We are financing Israeli atrocities. That is the difference.
  • mrscracker
    I’m more a pacifist than anything else but I certainly defend Israel’s actions of self defense. Self defense is a legitimate response.
    But I do hear what you are saying about our selective indignation. Poor Haiti’s practically at the point of collapse & few care.
  • Julian Cheslow
    commented 2024-05-30 01:27:39 +1000
    The issue is we are literally sending weapons and funding to Israel with clearly no preconditions on it. And after what just happened in Rafah I don’t get how you can just dismiss what Israel is doing.

    Being attacked isn’t a excuse for regularly commiting war crimes. And especially when Israel has been ignoring peaceful protests by Palestinians something needs to change. Netanyhu literally diminished the Palestinian Authority and propped up Hamas to deny Palestinians a state. No one gets the right to create a two tiered society where one group gets different rules then the other.

    Also there are plenty of progressives that have also been talking about Sudan and what is happening there. Just because you may not have seen it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
  • Antonio Graceffo
    published this page in The Latest 2024-05-29 14:44:11 +1000