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Column: Americans let the Super Bowl distract them from the attacks on Rafah

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Israeli battle tanks roll along the border of Gaza Strip on Feb. 9, 2024.

Photo Courtesy of Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images.

More than 123 million people tuned in to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 11. My Instagram feed was flooded with Chiefs-Niners content — posts breaking down Travis Kelce’s fight with his coach and what Taylor Swift decided to wear.

All while Israel launched strikes on Rafah in the Gaza Strip. Rafah was Gaza's last safe zone, housing more than one million people. Palestinians held on to hope that Rafah would offer safety and security, despite attempts to block access to essential supplies.

As of Feb. 12, at least 67 Palestinians died during the strikes, according to Palestinian Health Ministry. While our eyes were elsewhere.

The Super Bowl likely garnered far more attention from Americans than the bombing of Rafah.

There is no way of knowing if our government approved of this atrocity, now known to some as the “Super Bowl Massacre,” but it seems that Israel has interest in keeping its biggest supplier of military aid appeased.

As we were indulging in buffalo chicken dip and making merry over creative commercials, President Joe Biden’s allowance of this injustice was largely plastered over by millions of distracted Americans. This strategy may very well be influenced by his plans for reelection, keeping Israel satisfied and banking that his voter base won’t notice.

Biden's unsettling post of himself with glaring red laser-like eyes directly following the Chiefs’ victory further underscores his persistent attempts to forge connections with the American people, all the while avoiding any acknowledgment of many of our dissatisfaction. He captioned the Instagram post “Just like we drew it up, @chiefs,” coming across as incredibly tone-deaf in the face of petitions around the country calling for a halt in funding and a ceasefire. Whether this post subtly nods to conspiracies about the Super Bowl being rigged in the Chiefs’ favor or not, its underlying tones shed light on his priorities.

The Super Bowl has been a stage for political attention and statements on war in the past. In 1991, while Whitney Houston sang the national anthem, military planes flew overhead as part of the beginning of the Gulf War, and in 2002, the halftime show featuring U2 paid tribute to the then-recent 9/11 attacks.

Though previous Super Bowls have been a means to acknowledge challenging topics, this year's Super Bowl may have kept some Americans out of touch with global affairs — creating a veil of ignorance. 

But, it could be seen as more than just a veil. Some pro-Israel ads pushed a narrative that Israel is at war with Hamas without mention Palestinian casualties. One ad, for instance, showcased an athlete playing football with his son, accompanied by the message “Bring all dads back home,” immediately followed by clips of Israeli hostages before Oct. 7. The millions of dollars spent to air the ad is nothing short of a display of unwavering support for Israel, despite the loss of more than 29,000 Palestinian lives since the start of the war, according to the territory’s Health Ministry on Monday.

The message itself is important — antisemitism should never be tolerated — but continuing to use the dwindling number of hostages taken by Hamas as a means to justify a devastating war and attack is unacceptable.

Ultimately it is shameful that Americans care more about a football game than the bombing of people, but it is nothing new; many uneducated and sheltered Americans will not look outside of the United States to care about international humanitarian issues.

@katelinlee

@dthopinion | opinion@dailytarheel.com

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