THE BLOG
08/07/2014 12:55 pm ET Updated Oct 07, 2014

Disproportionality in Gaza

There is disproportionality in the Gaza conflict, but it is not military.

No one scrutinizes the media's attention to Israel and its neighbors more than engaged members of the Jewish community. Not surprisingly, we have multiple groups that measure the quantity and quality of time and type invested in coverage. Consumers are to be forgiven if they come to the conclusion that the conflicts that flare between Israel and its ill-wishers occur on a vast swath of real estate.

In fact, the field of engagement is relatively compact, and none more so than Gaza. (The entire border between Gaza and Israel is 32 miles long.) The tragic loss of life and infrastructure within Gaza is the unavoidable result of its density combined with Hamas's decision to embed launchers and tunnels among civilians.

The critical eye cast on Israel regularly makes note of the civilian casualties, in spite of Israel's well-documented attempts to protect non-combatants. But other conflicts in the region get little attention, even when the intended victims include civilians who happen to be in the way of the military objectives of the perpetrators.

These are three ledes from the August 6, 2014 edition of the Washington Post. None of them appears on the front page. In each of the three occurrences -- in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria - civilians are the intended victims of violence by the Islamic State militia or the Syrian government. In Syria, the two groups are fighting each other (and others):

BAGHDAD -- Stranded on a barren mountaintop, thousands of minority Iraqis are faced with a bleak choice: descend and risk slaughter at the hands of the encircled Sunni extremists or sit tight and risk dying of thirst.

BEIRUT -- Lebanon struggled on Tuesday to contain tensions unleashed by the seizure of a remote border town by Sunni militants in the latest example of the unchecked expansion of the al-Qaeda offshoot that is battling to establish an Islamic state across the Middle East.

UNITED NATIONS -- The United States informed the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that it has neutralized about 60 percent of Syria's most toxic chemicals...Syria agreed to surrender its chemical arsenal last fall when the U.S. threatened missile strikes in retaliation for a chemical attack on a rebel-held suburb of Damascus. The attack is believed to have killed more than 1,000 people.

The human casualties and destruction of property in these three conflicts are greater in both number and scope than the Gaza engagement. The underlying rationales in each of them are no less insistently presented. And the civilian victims are no more deserving of being collateral damage. Where, then, is the reportage - never mind the outrage - about children, women and pensioners who are being starved, shot or gassed?

No innocent life, no matter age, faith or ethnicity, has blood that is redder than any other. War is awful, even when it is necessary. And no group should sacrifice innocent life in an attempt to generate sympathy for its cause.

So it is worth asking for proportionality in covering the world's regrettable supply of armed conflict with civilian casualties. It is worth asking questions about who has taken proper precautions to protect innocent life in these terrible circumstances. It is worth wondering why hotels in Gaza are filled with international correspondents while innocent Iraqis, Lebanese and Syrians are left to die virtually unnoticed.