Striking Terror in Syria


On Oct. 5, on the heels of the horrific Haifa suicide bombing that killed 19 Israelis, the Israeli Air Force struck the Ein Tzahab Islamic Jihad training base in Syria, destroying its key infrastructure. Though the IDF strike caused no loss of life (its occupants were out on maneuvers), The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called Israel’s strike a “tit-for-tat” response to the Haifa restaurant massacre.

Section of Ein Tzahab terrorist camp destroyed by Israeli strike

Ein Tzahab had been used by Arab groups (including al Qaeda) to learn the trade of terrorism ? a 1997 report indicated that Ein Tzahab “ranks as one of the preeminent training camps where it houses extreme fundamentalists from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Algeria. The training is run by officers from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. They are instructed in street fighting, plane hijacking, hostage taking, and blowing up specific targets ? Israeli, American, European, and other targets in certain Arab countries.”

As expected, the Israeli attack triggered a torrent of media condemnation:

? New York Times editorialized that Israel is “drawing additional countries directly into its intractable conflict with the Palestinians.”

? CNN decried Israel’s “crossing of a red line.”

The media criticism promulgates two widespread myths about Syria and the broader war on terrorism:

Myth #1: Syria has not been a direct participant in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

In fact, Syria was already fully involved in the conflict long before the Israeli air strike. Damascus hosts the headquarters of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and PFLP, and supplies weapons and financial support for those groups and for Syria’s Lebanese terrorist proxy, Hizbullah. To claim that the Israeli attack “draws Syria into” the Palestinian conflict is a blatant denial of Syria’s longstanding and pivotal role in a terror campaign that has caused the murder of hundreds of Israeli citizens. That, if anything, “crossed the red line” years ago.

The Washington Post opined that “Mr. Sharon prodded a country suspected of supporting terrorism.”

“Suspected”? Since 1979, Syria has never failed to make the U.S. State Department’s annual listing of nations that sponsor terrorism. Secretary of State Colin Powell visited Damascus in May, insisting upon the closing of the offices of Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Hizbullah, but the Syrian government has done nothing to satisfy Western concerns. A State Department official emphasized this week: “They are not merely information offices ? there are very significant activities.”

Myth #2: The Israeli strike will foment Islamic terror

USA Today warned Americans that Israel’s attack in Syria “could aggravate anti-U.S. feelings in the region,” and the Omaha World-Herald warned that “the ill advised raid…could destabilize a whole region.”

Following 9/11, the U.S. reached the same conclusion that Israel recognized years before: Terrorist groups and rogue regimes cannot be stopped by threats of deterrence (which worked during the US-USSR cold war), but rather must be confronted in a pre-emptive manner (i.e. Operation Iraqi Freedom). This unfortunate reality is a product of the irrational nature of these organizations, as stated in the official U.S. National Security Strategy:

“Traditional concepts of deterrence will not work against a terrorist enemy whose avowed tactics are wanton destruction and the targeting of innocents; whose so-called soldiers seek martyrdom in death and whose most potent protection is statelessness.”

Far from “destabilizing the region,” therefore, military acts such as the Israeli strike against Ein Tzahab keep terrorists on the defensive and therefore yield greater regional stability. As President Bush stated on Oct. 6 in defense of Israel, “We would be doing the same thing.”

The media constantly urge Israel to demonstrate long-term vision for peace, but in this case, media critics of the Ein Tzahab strike are themselves demonstrating a remarkable lack of vision. It’s time for media outlets to wake up and recognize ? as the Bush administration has ? that a war on terrorism demands a unique and bold strategy. The hazardous alternative of failing to respond grants terrorists the upper hand to pursue even more deadly attacks against Western targets.

Did your local paper join in condemning the Israeli anti-terror strike in Syria?
If so, write your editor today, raising the myths and facts noted above.

Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.



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