Tunnel Vision: Terrorists and the Media

Whether in Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq or Iran, terrorists (and their tyrant backers) have moved underground, carrying out their operations in tunnels, literally digging under their enemies, waiting to blow them up or kidnap them.


That’s how Hamas abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006.That’s how Hizballah grabbed the bodies of two soldiers and started a war in Lebanon in 2006.

This week they tried again.  Hamas sent teams of fighters (dressed in Israeli uniforms) into four tunnels from Gaza that came up not far from dining rooms of several kibbutzim inside Israel. They wanted to grab or kill as many civilians as possible. Terror groups in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan have similar goals.

For them, success means killing or abducting the enemy, grabbing a headline, not building anything. Hamas and Hizballah have not built anything but tunnels and bunkers. Al-Qaeda and its copy-cats have not built anything, not a road or one school. Most of the imported cement in Gaza has gone to line tunnels two or three miles long.

Terrorists fear facing Israeli forces or U.S., British or French soldiers in daylight.  They and the tyrants who aid them — such as Iran — work underground, literally.

Most Hamas attacks, most Hizballah assaults, and the bomb-making of Iran take place not just in the shadows, but literally under the ground. They fear Western “eyes in the sky” that allow countries like Israel and the U.S. to discover and stop terror smuggling and weapons development.


In some ways, too many journalists think like the Hamas maniacs in Gaza (Sunni Islam) and Hizballah’s homicidal hooligans in Lebanon (Shiite Islam). They have narrow tunnel vision, trying to grab an easy headline.

When it comes to terror, many in the media avoid the hard and dangerous work of investigating terror groups and focus almost monomaniacally on one thing: alleged bad behavior by the West/Israel in fighting terror.

The terrorists have their fixation on destroying something or someone (Israel, U.S., Britain, Western democracy etc.) and all too many reporters, editors and producers fixate on finding fault with those who fight terrorists.

That’s why  many journalists miss the story — and not for the first time.

In post-9/11-Iraq, many in the news media built a case that the U.S. went into Iraq and Afghanistan in order to torture Muslims. That’s a distorted view from the tunnel.

Here’s the big picture: the U.S. deposed a sadistic despot who gassed Iraq’s citizens and wanted to gas and bomb Israel and Iran. The US flubbed finding weapons of mass destruction, but that also happened in the 1991 Iraq war. Still, one thing is sure: Saddam used WMD, but he will not build any more bombs anymore.

Further tunnel vision: Many in the media focused on a few cases of U.S. alleged infractions at interrogation centers in Guantanamo, Cuba, and at Abu Ghraib in Iraq.


Here’s what really happened: most inmates got humane care, interrogators found Osama bin Laden, interrogators blocked several major terror plots (e.g. Bojinka, London, Los Angeles etc.), and the U.S. did something  unprecedented —  pushed a major Arab country on the road to democracy.

Joint media-terrorist tunnel vision has deepened with time, but it is not totally new.

When Israel expelled the PLO and Syrian forces from southern Lebanon in 1982, the Beirut  press corps, controlled by the PLO, alleged that “600,000 were made homeless,” though southern Lebanon’s population probably did not reach 600,000.  Yet the view from the PLO tunnel bewitched some Western journalists.

The real story was different: Israeli forces conducted one of the most surgically clean military operations in history. Only two or three buildings were seriously damaged in the Lebanese  towns of Tyre and Sidon.

The tunnel-vision account said Israel was starving or displacing thousands of Lebanese. The real story:  Few civilians were hurt by Israeli actions—far less than the thousands killed, hurt or displaced by ten years of PLO rule (1970-82).

The true picture of tightly focused Israeli firepower was distorted by dumb or cynical reporters echoing PLO lies. That was a safe or lazy route to a Pulitzer Prize.


Real reporting on terror means digging as deep as the tunneling terrorists, not relying on terror organization hand-outs and press releases.

Lebanon’s Red Cross (Crescent) was run by Fathi Arafat, brother of Yasser Arafat, the PLO terror chief, who led many real massacres, like the slaughter of Christians at Damour, south of Beirut. Fathi spread stories of Israeli atrocities. To get a massacre or a phony account of a massacre, you only  had to pick the right Arafat brother.

What happens in Gaza today recalls the performance of terrorists and journalists in 1982, when an incredible story went untold: in two hours of aerial “dog fights” over the Bekaa Valley, Israel destroyed 86 Syrian jets without losing a single plane.

It was a statistically miraculous shut-out many in the Western media did not discuss. The first nine days of the current Hamas-Israel war were also a miracle shut-out: more than a hundred rockets fired every day into Israel — at Ashkelon, at Sderot, at Tel Aviv — without a single Israeli fatality.

Many credit Israel’s “Iron Dome” rocket-defense, but it was not just technology. The shut-out continued even when Hamas tried several commando raids, landing on an Israeli beach, or coming out of the ground in several border towns and kibbutzim.


On the tenth day of Gaza fighting, during a cease-fire that Hamas rejected, the terrorists got “lucky,”  killing an Israeli volunteer worker with a mortar shell. A day later, four Gaza children died in an Israeli missile strike on a Hamas arms depot.

So, even miracles end, but journalists could produce a miracle of their own. Some important news organizations might start to investigate certain radical Islamic groups and terror organizations with the same intensity they reserve for U.S. intelligence gathering programs or Israeli army operations.

Terrorists can hide underground, but we must expect more than tunnel vision from journalists. We need reporters who want to dig for a tough story.


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