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Contributor's Corner
By Micah Halpern

My Tunnel Vision for Gotham and Gaza

by Steven Sher

Tough times make for strange bedfellows. Take the MTA's latest gambit to raise the subway fares and President Obama's initial overtures toward peace in the Middle East. The timing of both may pose that rare conjunction of events needed to instill hope among fiscally-challenged New Yorkers and to restore America to respected mediator status throughout the Middle East while alleviating the bleak situation of the world's self-proclaimed most suffering people.

If there is one positive that we can take from the recent war in Gaza, then it is that the Palestinians have a particular skill that would be a boon to New York. They know how to build tunnels. A great maze of tunnels. In a few short years, they have built and maintained one thousand tunnels in an area that is less than half the size of all of Gotham.

What if the MTA could bring a cadre of these two-legged burrowers to the boroughs?
Here is the ready-made, skilled labor that we need to complete projects such as the long-delayed Second Avenue Subway within the current budget. Bring them in as guest workers. Offer everything from green cards (Hamas colors: a nice touch) to private jets. This would have the added benefit of curtailing their attempts to sneak into America-s porous borders.

Say this about Hamas: they are the world's poster child for underground survival. And no workers are more cost-effective.The MTA can forgo expensive equipment in favor of pick-axes, mules and crude blasting tools.

U.S. cash would trickle back to Gaza too, jumpstart an economy decimated by an unemployment rate seven times greater than New York's and a crumbling infrastructure.

Moreover, the Arab world would see that we are serious about talking with terrorists. Perhaps it could lead to our inviting the Iranians to beef up our hometown nuke, Indian Point, make it impervious to attack, or our hiring private contractors such as al Qaeda as Park Service guides (no one knows caves and mountainous terrain better than they do) and Homeland Security agents (greeting each ship that docks in our ports).

Further, the more jobs we offer Hamas, the more quickly Gaza will be rebuilt, giving Israeli jets welcome new targets during the next incursion, thereby lessening the possibility of a ground invasion. Many lives will be saved.

Even the EU and the Arab League would have to admit that the U.S. is anything but a passive peace broker. President Obama can score big foreign policy points early in his tenure. Combatants in conflicts around the globe will vie for American contracts.

Think of the photo ops too: the celebrities who will venture down into the subway tunnels to pose with Hamas workers. Great goodwill will be restored.

Maybe we can get the Egyptians, those ancient admirers of massive public works projects, whose firsthand views of Gaza's tunnels make them the natural choice, to host the negotiations.

Just to be on the safe side though, the MTA had better dust off station cameras. Get out the metal detectors. Call in the National Guard. Recording to passengers: If you see an unattended backpack--take a cab.

4 June 2017 12:13 PM in Columns

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