The view from my veranda

Letter from Jerusalem – Carmel Forest fire

10th December 2010

Shabbat Shalom! Todays letter will be just a little different from the usual info-mail, since I am in a strange, rather maudlin state of mind. Last week stupidity started the dreadful fire in the Carmel Forest Park, when a 14 year old from the village of Usfiya, bunked off school to smoke a nargila (hubble bubble), finished smoking and simply threw the coals and silver paper away. He ran scared the moment he saw the start of the conflagration, scared that he would be blamed, he didn’t tell anyone. Of course the tinder dry brush and trees burst into flame and the winds carried it further and further.
A teenage folly turned into a national tragedy with 42 dead and two horribly burned. Haifa’s police Chief Ahuva Tomer died of her woulds sustained while trying to help the firefighters and prison warders who perished in the bus succumbed to her injuries only after the fire was out. The national tragedy became a test of friendship as the most surprising countries came to our aid, including the PA, Egypt and Jordan and the Bulgarians became the favourites. The real heroes however were our own firefighters, police and first responders who put their lives on the line for days on end without thought of their own safety, leading the hundreds of overseas firefighters who came to help. In their excitement at the countries who came to our aid, the media hype seemed to gloss over our own heroes who lost 40 of their own. When the skies opened and the rains came down the day after the huge supertanker flew over the fires many people thought that the heavens were laughing at us but I believe that G-d waited to see who came to Israel’s aid in her time of need before putting out the flames.

Incredibly a love story came out of the flames. He is Swiss Air Force’s deputy commander; she is an Israeli from Rosh Haayin. They met two years ago, but Carmel disaster rekindled their love as he arrived to help fight wildfire. Now, Colonel Stefan Balsiger plans to move to Israel for good,7340,L-3996074,00.html

Benjamin Netanyahu – ‘As the fire that burns the forest, and as the flame that sets the mountains ablaze.’ This past week…we saw it in all its strength….on Mt. Carmel, where the prophet Elijah brought down fire from Heaven… brave people from all over the world came to help Israel in this hour of need and joined our brave firefighters and police… The People of Israel are an ancient people with long memories.
If you wish to donate to Israel’s firefighters

At the foot of this letter I will give you the emails of newspapers in the assisting countries to write and thank them for their help.

When I asked you to write to Canadian Prime Minister Harper after his statement that Canada would stand by Israel no matter what the cost you responded. I was delighted to hear that Mr Harpers office replied to each and every one of you. It seems that Mr Harper is a true friend and a true statesman.

The support of Mr Harper and Australias Julia Gillard has been soured by the EU and South American countries who have declared support for the PA. They do not live with the pain of being bombed daily or hearing calls for our destruction among denials of our right to the Temple Mount, Rachels Tomb or any of the major Judeo/Christian sites. They hear calls for Israel to stop building in the disputed territories yet do not demand a stop to Palestinian attacks; the uproar over civic Rabbis demand that Jews do not sell homes to Arabs in Jewish areas (which horrified me) was not met with similar dismay at the Arabs who beat up a Jewish family that wanted to buy in an Arab neighbourhood.

One should choose ones friends with care, knowing that one will be identified with their principles. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has expressed his personal support for the president of Sudan, Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, who is responsible for the genocide in Darfur.

We are the most innovative country, a giving country which sends her scientists and agronomists to help build third world countries into viable self-sustaining entities yet we are called racists………. indeed the standards by which we are judged is inverse morality where the greatest criminals of human rights are the policemen of human rights at the UN.

Tonight the real rain will fall, the exceptionally hot autumn and winter temperatures will swoop downward and snow will fall on the Hermon and maybe even here in Jerusalem! The storms will bring respite to the parched earth and water to the Kinneret. Maybe it will refresh the air and wash away the tears as Israel once again rises as a Phoenix and begins to plant her trees……… after all Israel is the only country in the world to increase the number of trees consistently each year thanks to the KKL.

This has been a sad week, dear friends have passed on and it makes one understand just how precious our loved ones are and how easily we take them for granted. Remember to tell your family how precious they are to you and make your Shabbat even more blessed.

With much love from Jerusalem, still sunny but cooling down.

Palestinian Authority

UK Guardian
USA NY Times