The Hamas-Israel Conflict: What Happened to Critical Thinking?

Why does the Hamas-Israel conflict receive more global attention in contrast to other conflicts?

hamas-israel-conflicthamas-israel-conflictIn April this year, 276 female students in Nigeria were kidnapped by an Islamic terrorist group called Boko Haram which has been fighting an insurgency against the Nigerian people.

In Myanmar, the minority Rohingyas have been persecuted by the government and the Burmans which comprised the majority.

Besides that, Palestinians in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria have been deliberately starved and massacred by forces loyal to the President Bashar al-Assad. Doctors and medical workers in the camp were also targeted by security forces. To date, the estimated number of casualties in the Syrian Civil War has risen to 171,000.

The recent conflagration between the state of Israel and the terror organization Hamas, which is also the de facto government of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, is the third large-scale conflict since the Disengagement in 2005 which saw Israel giving up Gaza with the hopes that peace would be achieved.

The above are just a fraction of the conflicts occurring as these words are typed. All of it involved human rights violations and innocent lives caught in the cross fire. The difference however, is that the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza seems to be receiving massive global attention in contrast to other conflicts. Perhaps there could be some reasons why this is so, however it is important that the general public learn to think critically rather than merely absorbing whatever that is being pumped out of the media or other sources.

One prominent catalyst that contributes to the high focus on the current Arab-Israeli conflict is due to social media manipulation that has been used as a mean for persuasion or propaganda. As much as an image can speak a thousand words, it seems to be that some of these images are allegedly fake however, has successfully captured the attention of the public in a way that is alarming.

One such example is the fake image released by Palestinian activists of the toddler held at gun point which happened in Syria but claimed to have happened in the country. Another famous example is a scene from the movie Final Destination 4 which showed a headless girl that is being passed off as a victim of Israeli strikes in Gaza. These examples show a lack of critical thinking by the public as it is obvious that with technology, images can be altered in order to suit private agendas.

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Also, another lack of congruence regarding these events are slogans that appeal to the psychological and emotional component of the human make-up. Recently, the slogan “It’s not about religion, it’s about humanity” has been trending worldwide on social media platforms in order to garner sympathy and to raise support for the Palestinians in Gaza. However, one interesting question comes to mind: where were these supportive slogans for the Shiites, Ahmadis and Baloch in Pakistan, the countless victims of sectarian violence in the Middle East and Congo, just to name a few.

Closer to home, there seems to be a large amount of group polarization upon the rise of these events. David Myers, a professor of Psychology, defines this as a phenomenon where opinions and decisions of people in a group setting become intensified than their pre-existing views. In Malaysia, religion is used as a unifying factor as the Palestinian cause takes on a more religious undertone.

The eruption of conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis end up molding a skewed focus what with the recent talks about boycotting Israeli product as well as the recent trending #HitlerWasRight on Twitter and other social media platforms. It seems to be that when matters of religion come into play, a large amount of critical thinking is thrown out of the window.

In closing, awareness and the ability to reason and think critically come into play especially when global crisis such as these events erupt periodically. Perhaps it is not a matter of who is right or wrong, but perhaps it is time to see that the future of humanity lies in our hands because at the end of the day, each one is equal to the other.

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the writers.

Josiah Ching is a graduate from Southern New Hampshire University with a degree in Communications. He has a passion for zoology, Middle-Eastern history, international relations, politics, literature, dinosaurs and 60s music. An admirer of the classical liberal tradition, he hopes to see Malaysia transformed into a truly liberal democracy. He is currently working as a recruiter in the oil and gas industry and plans to further his studies with a Masters in History.

Carissa Morais recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Southern New Hampshire University and currently writes on a freelance basis.