The more the media covers terror attacks, the more we encourage them. The greater the preoccupation with terror in terms of research and journalism, the more we end up watering this evil flower and making it blossom. It lives on global attention and the sunlight we direct at it. Nothing is more attractive than success, and there are plenty of people willing to commit suicide out there.
This is also how perpetual motion – “perpetuum mobile” - is created; the media makes a living because of terror, and meanwhile terrorism makes a living because of the media. The media must have the drama, the tension, the excitement – and yes, horror is also excitement – as anxious people buy more newspapers and watch more television.
At the same time, terrorism needs the media. It lives off and feeds off on it. This is how it brings the horror and fear into every household in the world, while setting the dosage, direction and tone.
Ever since the last Olympics, there was no other event that reached every household worldwide like the terror attack in Mumbai. And all of this was done by the media. For that reason, the Islamist terrorists chose “high quality” targets. After all, hundreds of Indian or Iraqi casualties would leave the international media indifferent.
The terrorists realized that in order to create a spectacular display, they need to kill Western foreigners, and hurt Jews as an “added spice.” This always adds more layers and complexity to the play.
So what can we do? After all, we cannot refrain from covering such tumultuous events. We certainly have to report them, but we must restrain the coverage, its sensationalism, and its horrors. We must realize that someone out there is misusing the live broadcasts and their immediacy. Indeed, we live in the Internet era where everything makes its way online right away, yet nonetheless, television sets the tone when it comes to reporting.
Israeli media’s maturity
In Israel we faced a similar situation in the 1990s with devastating suicide bombings. Our media conducted itself maturely and gradually lessened the coverage, refraining from offering horrifying close-up shots, miserable relatives, and other harsh scenes. This neutralized some of the horror and achievements of terror.
The time has come to establish an international media convention, precisely for such cases, in order to minimize the achievements of Islamic terror, which is already giving us a sense of global loss of control. The media already understands that it is not a third party. Indeed, it plays a central role in the play.
Freedom of speech is a holy value, until someone cynically misuses it. At this time, freedom of speech must protect itself. The Americans realized this on their own and greatly censored the September 11th attacks. No body was shown on the screens, names were not published, and funerals were not seen. Why? Because America is a superpower that takes into account national morale and the enemy’s glee. We, on the other hand, are sometimes experts at despairing ourselves.
Islamic terror attacks have nothing to do with “occupation” or our local conflict. They constitute an attack on the values of the West, on freedom, and on individualism. It is also about attacking Jews just because they are Jews.
However, here is a small comfort: Every time we see such horrific international attack, this improves global understanding of Israel’s condition, creates new solidarity with us, and deepens our position in the bosom of the West. These attacks strengthen Israel and its arguments, and position the Palestinians, Hamas, and Hizbullah in a wholly different context; not as a local phenomenon, but rather, part of a global terror offensive.
The time has come to take care of this evil flower. Please, stop watering it.