I arrived in Israel on the day the terrible fires began. It was Wednesday, December 1 and that was what everyone was discussing. A terrible fire got out of control in the Mount Carmel region in the north and it was taking its toll in lives, property and the environment.
The entire country was mobilized, the prime minister held his meetings as close to the site as possible and although there were some serious charges of incompetence and lack of ability to respond quickly everyone focused on getting the job done and helping those who lost everything regain their lives as quickly as possible.
The world reacted with great compassion and an outpouring of support from every country as near as Turkey who has had strained relations with Israel for some time and saw beyond the differences to help a neighbor in need to Russia and the US and every country in between.
Watching the news was almost heartwarming. To see everyone get behind and pull their weight so that a small country and a community in the north could survive such a terrible disaster which to a large degree was an act of nature and could not be helped. But I could not help feeling that something was wrong. Something just did not seem right but I wasn’t able to put a finger on it until just now.
As the aerial videos were shown in real time on the TV screen it came to me. Not a 10 minutes flight from where the fire was consuming everything along its path, not a 30-minute drive from where I was sitting in Jerusalem is a community of 1.5 million people, 800,000 children who only two years ago suffered a disaster a thousand times greater than this fire poses. Over fourteen hundred lives were lost, many thousands of people were severely injured, countless children burnt and were maimed for life, homes were destroyed, and lives were shattered.
Yet no one said a word. Not one came to help. No one came to rebuild and there was no talk of compensation for the victim’s families, no compensation for the homes that were destroyed, no attempt to rebuild so that people could get their lives back together again. What is incomprehensible is that the same people who are now toiling to end the fire and help the people who suffered are the ones who were behind the destruction of Gaza.The people who are charged with helping and restoring the Carmel, those who swear that the government will cut the red tape and give people every help they need, these people viscously and callously watched as Israeli war planes dropped hundreds of tons of bombes from the air day after day creating a disaster of unspeakable proportions. And then did nothing to help the victims.
How is this possible? How is it conceivable that people would be so blind, so cold? Israelis really do believe that they live in a Jewish state that governs Jewish people with a few non-Jewish minorities and that no one else exists. The 1.5 million people whose lives they destroyed in Gaza and the 2 million people whose lives they rule with an iron fist in the West Bank are not their problem, not their concern. The Palestinians only exist in the context of “security” so they either cooperate and are left to live in the unlivable web of racist laws and the whims of the military or they do not cooperate and then Israel kills and destroys as much of them as possible only to leave them to bleed to a slow and painful death.
One has to seriously wonder what it would take for the Israelis, all Israelis from the PM and his generals to the average person on the street who serves the PM and the generals, to wake up.