How the World Responds to Civilian Deaths during War


Just so no one misinterprets my intention upfront with this cartoon, let me preface it by saying I think all life is a gift and precious.  Whether in the streets of Gaza, Israel, or Iraq, people should have the security of knowing that their life won’t be taken due to the decisions and skirmishes of others.  Yet, as there seems to be no shortage of wars and political unrest around the world, I am finding it interesting to note how however tragic civilians dying that there is another level of vitriol and hatred when it comes to Israel.

As the cartoon mentions we have ISIS terrorizing and killing 5,500 civilians this year alone in Iraq.  And in Mosul, ISIS told Christians to leave or be killed.  And yet no massive worldwide condemnation or demonstrations.   Civilians continue to die in the civil war in Syria with rival countries supplying weapons to both sides.  But no mass condemnation or demonstrations. Russian Separatists killing others and most likely downing a commercial airline.   And while there are government sanctions being put in place against Russia for their role, again no massive demonstrations.  Let’s not forget Pakistan, several African countries and whatever is happening in North Korea behind closed doors.

Now in Israel where the death toll of Palestinians in Gaza has surpassed 800, and the majority reported to be civilian, suddenly the world decries their actions over all others.  Hamas will say Israel is targeting civilians.  Israel says Hamas is both hiding their armory among civilians and hiding themselves among them so it is difficult to determine whether or not many of the dead are civilians or fighters.   Who is more to blame is for scholars and experts greater than me.

But while the world and the UN should be outraged at all unnecessary deaths, this is what you see.   #freegaza has trended on social media for three weeks while all other skirmishes listed trend for a day or so and then go away again.  Thousands have marched around the world protesting Israels actions, which in many cases has led to rhetoric moving from anti-Israel to anti-Jewish sentiments with protesters chanting “Death to the Jews” and attacking Jewish businesses, synagogues and people.  Even in friendly Canada, things got out of hand at a recent rally in Calgary.

But it isn’t just citizens.  The ANC, Turkey, Venezuela, and Bolivia among others has condemned Israel, while staying quiet on the other mentioned conflicts.  But it seems the biggest perpetrator of them all is the United Nationals Human Rights Council which decided to open an investigation into possible war crimes by Israel while omitting to look at the same for Hamas.

Violent death is and should be an outrage no matter the cause.   But we need to stop picking and choosing when we decide to be outraged and by whom.


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47 Responses to “How the World Responds to Civilian Deaths during War”

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  1. damian says:

    Nicely done, I think about this a lot.

    “Outrage” always seems selective, based on certain factors as opposed to treating any life as valuable.

  2. qka says:

    Yet no opprobrium towards Hamas for starting the current round of the conflict.

  3. Binky says:

    It is a real mess over there, but as a good friend from Israel said, if it was up to the people on both sides and not the governments and generals and terrorists, a solution could probably be found.

  4. Jason Salas says:

    There is no “heaven” to be gained through hatred; heaven being a state of love. The idea of an utopian afterlife obtained through self-righteous murder is base. That said, the case for defending those under one’s protection inevitably takes the form of an offensive to quell/deter future attacks — counterstrike or otherwise. Therein lies the rub. Like you, Bearman, I believe the verdict is above my head.

  5. Tim says:

    Really, all we want to do is draw our comics, but how can anyone with a conscience sit down lately and do fart jokes when the world is boiling over?

    Cease fire right now. = some hope that enough is enough.

    • Tim this is probably the first truly political cartoon I have done in a long time. i prefer fart jokes too but sometimes I need to get this out of my head before I can move on.

  6. jynksie says:

    My position on this would sink me if I were a politician me thinks, but these days, people allow others to to their homework for them and they just recite the buzz words . However, I’ve always been one to own what I say and mean what I say, so here it goes.

    Palestine is not a thing to me. Prior to the 6 day war Israel had with Egypt and Jordan, the Gaza strip belonged to Egypt and the West Bank belonged to Jordan. Jordan and Egypt renounced their claims to those land areas when signing peace treaties with Israel and then suddenly, poof, the PLO was formed. The people living on these lands were either Egyptian or Jordanian prior to the 6 day war. They can go back there. If every nation had to go back to its original map, I’d be doing a rain dance around my tee-pee.

    Regardless of my accuracy or misstep on geography , Hamas is a terrorist organization that embeds itself into residential and civilian areas in order to create maximum PR damage on their enemies by using the general populace as collateral damage for their fight. Any group or military who uses unarmed civilians, rather than fighting their battles on the front lines, isn’t something that gets my attention, or respect. Do I like that the Palestinian people are used this way? hell-no! Do they even understand Hamas does this to them to advance a cause of wanting to destroy their neighbor? I have no idea, I am to far removed from the situation to understand the mindset of why civilians allow militia’s to live and fight in their neighborhoods, where the children play and are educated, rather than standing for their convictions in the front lines away from harming their families

    Israel is the size of Massachusetts and the land hamas is fighting over [palestine] is the size of Essex county in Massachusetts. When you look at that perspective of land vs. the international strife it causes, it’s mind boggling to me.

    • Sadly thought those that remained we forced to. There are reported 2 million Palestinians living in Jordans refugee camps. Had Egypt and Jordan allowed them to assimilate into the larger population instead of being used as pawns, there may have been different outcomes as well.

      Thanks for your perspective SJ

      • jynksie says:

        I agree, Egypt and Jordan should have allowed their own people back to assimilate. Doing things as they have done, its their backdoor to nose thumbing those lost lands. Palestinians are pawns in the larger game. … a horrible, inhumane game.

        There needs to come a day when we hold Egypt and Jordan responsible for the Palestinian peoples plight, since they are, in fact their people. No one has the backbone to do it and I’m not understanding why it can’t be, nor has anyone ever had it explained to me why it shouldn’t be.

  7. Comedy Plus says:

    Egypt and Jordan don’t care about the Palestinians. They do care about the propaganda though. I think about these things a lot. Too much sometimes.

    Have a terrific day Bearman. 🙂

  8. Red Dwyer says:

    Thank you for putting my thoughts into panels. I have said this since the ’80s and Syria. Some of my first political moves were motivated by this mentality, which is worldwide.

  9. lisleman says:

    You bring up and interesting discussion. Unfortunately, it seems most don’t want or know how to have a discussion. Many just want to fight about it. Getting emotional, mob thinking, hatred against whole groups and the irrational thinking it brings I believe have been with us forever. I hope it can change and there have been peacemakers who occasionally make a difference. We can do better but it’s not simple.
    Your post reminded me of book I have, “Who Hates Whom” by Bob Harris. It quickly became out dated since we have too large of a supply of hate in the world.

  10. G.B. Miller says:

    Unfortunately, it will always be about Hamas and/or Gaza and/or Palestine and never about Israel. Even our dopey commander-is-chump believes that Israel is wrong to do what it needs to do. However, I think some people are finally waking up to the realization that Hamas actually does hide its weapons amongst the civilians. For them, the end always justifies the means, no matter how much their precious population dwindles.

    And for what its worth, Israel actually gives warning when they’re about retaliate. Does any other country, including us, do that?

  11. People care if they care, true enough.

  12. Scott says:

    There is a difference though.

    In 1918, when the British Empire took Palestine from the Ottoman Empire, Britain immediately began giving Arab land to Zionist Jews, under its Balfour Declaration. Before that, Arabs had lived and died on that land for over 1300 years.

    But the primary atrocity was committed in 1948, when members of the United Nations–including the United States–established the Zionist State (“Israel”), thereby forcing Arabs off their land–as consolation for the Holocaust.

    The Arabs had nothing to do with the Holocaust–it would have made more sense to give a strip of Germany to the Zionist Jews. But the Zionist Jews demanded the Arabs’ land–so it was given them, with no regard for the inhabitants there. And the Arabs were forced from their homes; any Arabs who resisted were gunned down by Zionist Jews.

    Now, the United States is the biggest supporter of the Zionist State, giving it at least 3 billion dollars, plus weaponry, every year. The Zionist State has more weapons, per capita, than any other nation in the world. And here’s another little-known fact: The Zionist State is the only country in the Middle East that actually has nuclear weapons.

    And the most ironic thing about this is that it is Christians, not Jews, who are ultimately behind the establishment and continued support of the Zionist State. It always has been. The majority of Jews may or may not be Zionist, but the majority of Zionists are definitely Christian.

    Based on a single passage in the book of Revelation, it has been the intention of Christians to return the Jews to Zion (Palestine), since 1918, possibly earlier.

    Because Christians believe that they are hastening the Second Coming of Christ, in doing this.

    Thus, while seemingly Jews are using Christians in this century-old scheme–it’s actually Christians using Jews.

    Christians claim that the Jews are the chosen people of God, but Christians also believe that the Jews are still going to Hell because they don’t believe in Jesus Christ–talk about hypocrisy.

    It is too late for the United States to go to war with the Zionist State (to undo what was done in 1948). But it is never too late for the United States to stop supporting the Zionist State.

    And this is what needs to be done–not only for the sake of the Arab People in Palestine, but for the sake of the American People. It is not only unethical for our government to continue supporting the Zionist State–the establishment of which was a terrorist act to begin with–it is also unreasonable.

    • Scott says:


      There is apparently no passage in the Book of Revelation referring to the Jews returning to Zion.

      That said, it has still been the intention of Christians to return the Jews to Zion (Palestine) since 1918, possibly earlier.

      Throughout the history of Christianity, Christians have persecuted both Jews and Muslims. It is only in the last century that Christians have largely stopped persecuting Jews. But Christians still continue persecuting Muslims.

      • “The Arabs had nothing to do with the Holocaust–it would have made more sense to give a strip of Germany to the Zionist Jews.”

        You bring up the Balfour Declaration and then the Holocaust. Two different times and the Holocaust was not in the picture when the Balfour Declaration was made. If you believe that the Jews could have been carved out a homeland from parts of Germany why couldn’t they be carved out a homeland from the former Ottoman Empire which was a loser in WWI and signed a treaty giving up those lands. In return Britain signed over a part of the land to the Jews to form a state.

        There are more than 10 factions who have controlled that land over the centuries, so who has the claim to it?

  13. frigginloon says:

    Geez Bearman, a policital cartoon…heavy sigh. I don’t know how on earth this conflict can be resolved. I have heard arguments from both sides. I have seen the devastation on TV . As far as I’m concerned killing innocent people is wrong ….full stop. Religion has got a lot to answer for.

  14. Bill Murphy says:

    Hypocrisy drives me nuts! People want to send a lynch mob out for someone’s actions but ignore when someone else does the same exact thing.

  15. Tony McGurk says:

    I always wonder about this too. How do people & governments pick & choose which wars to condemn & which ones to turn a blind eye too? It seems that there’s too much political motives in it all. Like you said all life is precious. Once it was soldier vs soldier on the battle field but nowadays wars kill more innocent civilians than soldiers. I think often that a lot of soldiers probably don’t even know the real reasons they are fighting but just doing the bidding of their governments & military commanders. Madness, sheer madness

  16. Joseph says:

    Great post, Bearman. This topic has been on my mind lately.

    Yeah, if it were up to the citizens of every country I think there would be no wars. Most people are kind and peace loving. Live and let live (or maybe I’m just a fool). But the ruling elite have their own agendas and care not who dies. They only make a stink of it when it benefits them.

    I agree with Scott’s comment above. The US needs to stop sending billions of dollars to Israel.

    In addition, we need to pull out of all foreign conflicts and address the issues we have here at home. Ending the privately owned Federal Reserve would be the first step.

    • Actually I think Israel would be OK if we stopped sending them money. Then they wouldn’t have to even provide lip service to us when we try to put them in check 🙂

  17. Mark Stokes says:

    No death is insignificant, no matter which side you’re on!

  18. Tim Green says:

    I’m just thankful to live in a country where I don’t have to live in fear of constant air assaults! I know the U.S. has it’s problems, but I agree with a lot of the other comments I’ve read in this post that most of the average citizens are peaceful and are at the mercy of those in power.

  19. Gruhn says:

    I’ve heard experts say you will never be able to stop people from killing people. It’s hard to understand. It’s overwhelming and I do appreciate the fact that we don’t have to deal with war on our soil. Thanks for posting that thought provoking reality check.

  20. Nef says:

    I think the outrage differential stems in part from the media coverage, but also because the West is actively engaged in protecting Israel, but not the others, so the opposition places more emphasis on protesting that, in the hopes of tilting public opinion, which has force here, more than there.

    What needs to be understood is that all of this is a geopolitical game. Sad as it sounds, when we decide to act or not to act on the international stage, we are thinking primarily of ourselves. How do I benefit from this possible result, or how this other alternative could hurt my perceived interests. It is not an easy matter, because no one can predict randomness, and chaos, and that is exactly what you get when you stir a pot but don’t commit to keeping watch over it.

    What would happen if we back the Iraq regime (that we put in place, but has squandered the goodwill of the people) against the Caliphate, and then the Caliphate wins? Should we prop Turkey against revolt or support the rebellion as we did in Lybia? The outlook on those decisions is uncertain, because both sides are our enemies and one winner may be as bad as the other, so we see our politicians hesitating.

    When we have a clear perceived ally on one side, with a clear perceived enemy on the other, the matter becomes clear (to our perception), and our politicians suddenly grow a backbone, talk of humanitarian reasons, freeing the oppressed, promoting human rights, spreading freedom and the sort, but we should not be fooled, it is still part of the same game.

    In the case of Israel, it is clear that we support it because it is an ally, and their enemies are also outspoken in being our enemy (Palestinians dancing on the streets in celebration of 911, anyone?). We need to remember though, that alliances are fluid and everyone is playing the game for themselves as best as they can. If being our ally was no longer a benefit or became an inconvenient to Israel, you bet that they would seek to change it.

    We have been the school bully too long to remember that our rules are not necessarily the rules by which everyone else lives when we are not around, and as we have learned recently, we can’t always be around.

    Lives are being squandered needlessly on the whole region, and whenever innocents die, regardless of their affiliation, it is a tragedy, but I think our influence is being overstated, because a true exertion of our military might would result in far more casualties than the continuation of these conflicts, and a controlled show of force would only encourage our enemies to fight us because of our lack or resolve or strength.

    I’m sorry, Bear. I know this site is not the forum for these issues and I wandered away from your initial postulate, so I’ll only say one more thing before I stop (and go back to work, my boss is walking the halls).

    I agree with you. The deaths in one place should be as outrageous as the deaths in the other,

    • Never feel the need to apologize. I post these things to allow a forum for people to get their ideas out in what I hope is a safe environment.

      I think you have something there where you say there is more attention b/c of the relationship of Israel and therefore more media scrutiny. INteresting perspective.

    • Scott says:

      Several valid points there.

      What’s most interesting (and disturbing) to me is that U.S. presidents no longer declare war.

      And George W. Bush’s “War on Terror” was no declaration of war.

      The last U.S. president to declare war was Franklin D. Roosevelt. And though he set up the bombing of Pearl Harbor (via a secret meeting with Churchill on an aircraft carrier off Newfoundland)–then went after the Germans (who had not attacked the U.S.) instead of the Japanese (who had)–at least he did declare war (against the Empire of Japan).

      Then came Harry Truman.

      Truman figured out that if he didn’t declare war, he could send troops to Korea without losing popularity with the war-weary American people.

      In other words, Truman knew that if he didn’t declare war, he could appease both the hawks and the doves, he could sit on the fence–he could send troops to fight the North Koreans without giving them sufficient supplies, weaponry, or morale (as FDR had done with the U.S. troops in the Pacific Theater) to win the war.

      In other words, by not declaring war, Truman didn’t have to commit to winning the war, and getting it over with.

      And every U.S. president since, who has sent U.S. troops abroad, has followed Truman’s self-serving example–from Lyndon B. Johnson to George W. Bush.

      War should be a last resort, not a first one.

      War is hell, and it is very serious.

      Thus it shouldn’t be entered into lightly.

      And by waging undeclared wars, U.S. presidents, since Truman, have been doing just that. No skin off their noses.

      A formal declaration of war is not just a piece of paper. It is a commitment to get unpleasant business taken care of, and over with.

      • Scott says:

        Just a clarification:

        In writing “as FDR had done with the U.S. troops in the Pacific Theater,” I mean to say that FDR had NOT given the U.S. troops in the Pacific Theater sufficient supplies, weaponry, or morale to fight the Imperial Japanese.

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