Flight 1549 versus Gaza: American lives are much more important than Palestinian lives

January 17, 2009 | By | 16 Replies More

When we compare the good result of the water-landing of Flight 1549 with the indiscriminate “collateral damage” occurring in Gaza, we can only conclude one thing:  American lives are much more important than Palestinian lives.   After all, saving those 155 American lives was “miraculous,” according to American media reports (listen to this report and check out this article).  Captain Sullenberger is a “hero” for not allowing 155 people to die.  After all, human lives are precious, even when we know nothing about those 155 lives other than they are mostly American lives.

Compare, then, to the Palestinian deaths in Gaza.  There have been more than 1,000 of them, the equivalent of more than 6 plane-loads of human passengers.   More than 300 of those who have died violent deaths in Gaza are children.

A human life is a human life, right?    Not at all.


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About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (16)

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  1. Edgar Montrose says:

    I'll take a broader view, and summarize thus: It shows how different the outcome of a seemingly impossible situation can be when put in the hands of someone who knows what he's doing.

  2. Alison says:

    Priceless, Edgar.

    Erich, it's the novelty of the deaths or survival. Whatever's new or different is more important. Palestinians are getting killed in droves everyday – what's a few more here or there? A plane crash, though. . .THAT is something different!

    We place different values on lives every day, even among our own citizens. Look at how differently we reacted to the deaths in Oklahoma at the Murrah building, then the World Trade Center, and then in New Orleans, and how we helped the survivors. In fact, look just at the victims of Katrina, and how people were so much more aware of the situation in Louisiana than they were in Missouri (at least up here in the Northeast, you'd think the storm hadn't even gone outside N.O. city limits.) I'm sure it wouldn't take much searching on th' intarwebs to find people bemoaning how much more important the lives of the people on that plane seem to be than those of the poor, innocent aborted fetuses, too. It's all what's going to make the best "news".

    In fact, I was thinking as I was writing this that it probably has a lot in common with the apathy towards the plight of people in peril all over Africa and the Middle East. We've been seeing pictures of dirty, starving, dark-skinned people all our lives, in magazines, on TV, in the news, enough that it seems like it's perfectly normal to be living in a particular place or to look a particular way. To associate this mental picture with human suffering requires some effort. You need to consciously realize that those are real people in those photographs and films, not actors or models (whom we also might not be able to imagine as real people.)

    The value of the lives has less to do, I think, with their nationality than with the novelty of their survival, or the uniqueness of the situation they survived. Sad, but that's what sells the ad space.

  3. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Several years ago,an Israeli friend of an acquaintance of mine made a remark that a dead Palestinian child would not grow up to be a terrorist. When I asked him why he thought the child would become a terrorist, he answered "Because these Palestinians, they hate all Israelis."

    I asked him why that was and he said, "Perhaps that is because we kill their children."

  4. Rabel Fibal says:


    Hey you, don't tell me there's no hope at all

    Together we stand, divided we fall. (Your favorite Pink Floyd?)

    Go to this website: http://www.persecution.com

    These people are the real Vioce of the Martyers. Live and forgive.

    The Muslims and their 7th century beliefs are the problem to the world!!


  5. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    It appears I have a fan.

  6. Hank says:

    Possibly a fan(atic), Niklaus..

  7. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Hank, I think he has posted replies here before under a different handle, his style looks very familiar but haven;t I.D.'d it yet.

    A few years back, a coworker, ( marine biologist and part time musician) threw a big July 4th party and open jam session at his place, and I was invited. The crowd at the party was a mix of music industry people, some faculty and staff people from Vanderbilt, and several of us from the the day job.

    Being a teetotaler, I ended up with a small group of other teetotalers that included a recording engineer who was an "on the wagon" recovering alcoholic, a sessions banjo picker turned preacher that I had known for many years who was there with his fiancée and a Lebanese girl who was a friend of the fiancée. The Israeli guy was there with some of the Vandy crowd. He was a bit drunk, and kept flirting with the Lebanese girl who was Muslim.When the Israeli found out the Lebanese girl was a Muslim, things started going downhill, but when he realized that we didn't share his belief of the Palestinians as an inferior race who deserved death, he moved on to somewhere else

  8. Hank says:

    Ugh. Just … ugh.

    Is it too simplistic of me to think it's the height of hateful bigotry (and complete lack of perspective) for a citizen of Israel, of all places, to regard someone as part of "an inferior race who deserves death"? I seem to recall footage of a little guy with a moustache saying similar things in the 1930s and 40s – and following up on them with horrific efficiency.

  9. Rabel says:

    This is to the two sophistico want-a-be progressives "choir", that like diversity, but do not like diversity of opinions.

    Did you visit the website aforemetnioned?

    Hank and Nik, probably won't because it would ruin your view of the Muslim world.

    Hank, did you ever wonder where the Jews learned brutality. Yes, that's right…European and Russian ghettos. You wouldn't be bitchin right now about the Israelis if the guy in the mustache had won the war. Achtung, "get on the train, then you can take a shower."

    …Don't you know, "work will set you free".


  10. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    There are a few that think that way, just as there are a few in the US that think someone is evil because of language of their ancesters. From what I can determine, some Israelis are raised in an atmosphere that nutures a hatred of all Arabs, not just Muslims. I think that there are more Israelis who prefer humane treatment of the Palestinians than those that don't.

  11. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Rabel, My ancestry is partially German and

    "Gott weiss ich will kein Engel sein"

    So in an alternate reality where Germany won the war, It might be my boots kicking in your door, but…

    The Allies won, there is no alternate reality, just this one , and no matter how much you wish, you are just not important enough to to really matter. The future is determined by the choices we, as individuals, make in the here and now. So we must choose wisely, and wisdom can only be gained by accepting that learning never stops happening.

  12. Hank says:


    The aformentioned website didn't have much at all to do with my comment, which was specifically to do with the outright racism of _some_ Israelis. I certainly wouldn't put all Israelis (or Jews for that matter) into the same category as the "Arabs are untermenschen" proponents, many of which seem to have led the Israeli government or military at one time or another. Gurion, Barak, Olmert among many others have all had despicable things to say about the Palestinians.

    My comment wasn't precisely about you either, it was about _any_ Israeli who puts Arabs as a whole beneath themselves for no reason. I despise any such bigotry on principle, regardless of who it comes from or who it's directed to. I find this hatred of Palestinians just as repulsive as the all-too prevalent hatred of Jews/Israelis or gay people or black people or any other group on earth that receives similar treatment. Again, perhaps it's just a bit simplistic of me to imagine that the history of persecution Jews experienced pre-1948 (and still do tolerate) would give modern Jewish & Israeli people some perspective and a bit more empathy. For the record though: it must be said that when I read Ha'aretz I often find a lot more disagreement with Israeli policy from progressive voices within its pages than I find half a world away in the US or Australian press.

    I don't imagine there's a magic bullet to the Palestine/Israel tragedy (for that's what it is & has been for both sides for 50 years) but I can't help but think there's a better solution for Israel than corralling Palestinians into smaller & smaller bits of what is their own land and then launching airstrikes on what's left; not to mention a better solution for Palestine than to continually bring upon itself the wrath of their extremely well-funded and well-armed neighbour.

    So look, I think it's pretty clear I'm not bitchin' about all Israelis – just those individuals who put themselves above their neighbours for _no reason_ other than the pure accident of their birth. The mention of the Nazis, I believe, was valid. Obviously noone's trucking millions of auslanders to slave/death camps anymore, but the levels of irrational hatred that inspired those horrors still exist all over the world.

    Finally, please don't behave as if you know exactly what I think. Don't be under any illusions about my "view" of the Muslim world – the claim "religion of peace" is one I find as laughable and baseless as the constant Judeo-Christian claim that Yahweh is all about love & cuddles & is the source of modern morality. Do yourself and your argument a favour and don't assume to know someone else's position and then presuming to undermine it before that person has even stated it.

    Yeah yeah, "arbeit macht frei" but they don't pay me enough here at the Red Cross, so I'm goofing off in anticipation of a long weekend.

  13. Dan Klarmann says:

    I've been staying out of this tangent of discussion because of my many relatives who live in Israel. Can anyone think of a time in history when this area was not embattled? The Arabs, the Persians, the Egyptians, the Thracians, the Hebrews, the Romans, and many other peoples have been fighting over that speck of once-lush land since before Biblical times. The Bible only lists a few of the pogroms that we now know about, and only from one perspective.

    The point of the post (if I may) is that American media give little respect to life beyond our borders. If we are to push our nation back into the fold of world humanity, we need to give proportionate media space to foreign strife.

  14. Hank says:

    Agreed Dan.

    I think the one-sided concern for human lives has been the case for a very long time and not just in the US. Our Australian media are nearly as guilty (though our publicly-owned ABC outlets and SBS TV and radio do offer some refreshing depth & perspective occasionally). Much of the British media behave in the same way with the BBC, Times and Guardian being particularly parochial sometimes.

    The tangent you speak of certainly wasn't one I intended on exploring either, I was just voicing a bit of exasperation (and then had it amplified!). For the record, any intentional targeting of innocent parties (or careless destruction in their vicinity) and any racial bigotry are to my mind inexcusable, regardless of the source and the destination.

  15. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    I'm sure that Hank and a few others who blog from outside the US can vouch for what I am about to write. To the rest of the world, The citizens of the USA present an image of shallow, uneducated, self centered rich brats. That is no an admission that we are, but the media in this country so heavily filters world news to the American public, most Americans are blissfully unaware of the reasons why the people of so many other nations dislike us so.

    The vacuum of knowledge among our public is readily fill with with myths that make little sense when examined impartially, and many US citizens (branded the cultural elite by the ultra-cons) use the internet to find additional sources of info such as the BBC and Duetsche Welle for the world news that is often ignored by the US media.

  16. Rabel says:

    I guess when I look at the argument here…why compare them in the first place. Erich, of coarse American lives saved will be more important…it's America media. Dah?

    If it appears that I have no compassion for Palestinians, it is probably due to my beliefs that are in line with the Hebrew God. Least I can admit it.

    As for the "Voices of the Maryters", I don't think I could coexist with my enemy, let alone forgive, love and pray for them. After hundreds of stories and witness accounts, Muslims throughout the world cause much pain and torment for Christians, non-believers, gays, women (i.e., acid thrown in young girls faces for receiving an education)etc…

    Rabel, will not stop pounding the point: Muslim beliefs go against modern/ progressive thinking (live and let live). However, Muslims do like the Common Wealth, Euro-Norwegian socialism because they benefit from the working class, while they sit in their mosques bad mouth the western world and their favorite, jews.

    You guys can intellectualize all day long about why, how and when the world treats Palestinians, but if they were to drop their Islamic dogma this world would be a much better place.


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