Syria is a beautiful Middle Eastern holiday destination, bordering the Mediterranean sea and famed for its fantastic local delicacy, Baklava. Gaza is perhaps a destination for the more cultured among you—being as it is one of the oldest cities in the world, saturated in history, and interesting things you can take photos of like old ruins and recently bombed buildings.
Both are also currently in the midst of lots of fighting and death, as you may have read about on this website over the last year. With all those things in mind, we went to ask strangers in London a question: Would you rather be in Gaza or Syria right now?
Louis, 40: Not the Gaza conflict. I’m kind of torn because I’ve got Jewish friends and Palestinian friends and they’re both beautiful people. I think Gaza is a bit more militant—they're quite aggressive and they’re land grabbing and stuff, which seems a bit wrong. Although, we all do it—we’ve all done it. I think the Palestinians are really suffering and losing their identity. No one is speaking up for them.
Should other states be getting involved at all?
Definitely, yeah. We’re all part of this world and we always help each other out. I think we should really be guiding Israel to be more peaceful, and Palestine.
But won't the West get criticized for sticking its nose in?
Who by, though? What sort of critics would do that? Why would they criticize us over keeping the peace? Obviously it can go wrong —Vietnam, for example—but I’m not saying we should go militant and go in there and blow them up.
Well that's good to know.
Jade, 21: Oh god, I don't think I even know enough to inform myself. I think I’ve probably heard most about Syria. I have friends who are more involved in that kind of stuff. It sounds really bad—I’m really politically uninformed.
What keeps you occupied instead? The X Factor?
No, I don't know what I’ve been looking at. Do you want to know about The X Factor as well?
OK—go for it.
I don’t know anything about that, either.
Greg, 25: Neither, really. I don’t know too much about Syria. I know that Gaza isn't the best place to be, though. It's been so messed up in the last 50 years and Israel shouldn't really be there, but I don't know whose side I'm on. I think the Palestinians have a really hard time.
So you think the West should get involved?
I don’t really know what the ties are between Israel and the UK. And I'm not sure how many more people can stick their fingers in. I think it’s for the Middle East to sort out, or the UN, or the world, because otherwise nothing is going to change.
Have you heard much about Syria?
I don’t know too much, no. I’ve seen films about Syria. The Middle East is very troubled; I find it very complex.
Tom, 25: Gaza is probably worse. Well, probably not at the moment, but as an ongoing conflict. That’s the one that the media are more focused on, although I’m sure if the other ones had the same press as Gaza gets, that would sway opinion.
Who are you backing in Syria? The rebels?
I think it’s difficult because the press puts different spins on stuff and unless you’re really there and really seeing the situation, I think that's the only way to form an opinion.
That's very diplomatic of you.
Laura, 38: Obviously they’re both terrible places to be at the moment. Gaza is worse—there’s no escape in Gaza—it’s like a large prison. There’s nowhere to go, nowhere to escape. Whereas in Syria there are places you can go if you want to avoid conflict.
How do you think they're both portrayed in the media?
I think they should both be high on the agenda, but the way it's been portrayed—I feel like in the Palestine and Israeli conflict that Israeli voices are heard more because they get a spokesperson from the Israeli Embassy saying, "Well, you know, the Gazans have had their independence and we’ve behaved pretty reasonably towards them, yet they’re still bombing us. What can we do?” I don’t know if you get the same levels of opposition voices from within the Palestinian political system.
Keith, 58: Gaza is the war zone right now. Syria is apparently a bit more peaceful.
Who are you rooting for in Syria?
I’m not really sure, to be honest. I suspect they're both as guilty as each other. It’s hard to make your mind up. Maybe a lot of people don’t really know, too.
Are they all as bad as one another?
The yanks are always supporting the Israelis. I’ve been to Israel—they look after themselves. You’ve got teenagers by the looks of it, girls and boys in their early 20s sitting at bus stops waiting to be collected by army folks, and they’ve got the rifles with them—they’re all kitted out. So I suspect they’re both as guilty as each other.
To learn more about Syria, please read The Syria Issue.
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