Now send and gather all of Israel to Me on Mount Carmel….Then the fire of the Lord fell and devoured the sacrifice and the wood and the stones and the dust and the water. — Kings I 18: 19, 38
“Carmel” means the orchard of God in Hebrew.
The Bulgarian firefighters have agreed to let me tag along with them as they make their way up the gullies in the Carmel Forest, seeking out flames still burning uncontrolled. I walk with Mikhail, probably the only Bulgarian firefighter on earth who speaks Hebrew. He is also a medic, and had earlier done some work in Israel; long enough to pick up basic Hebrew. He and the other Bulgarian firefighters just came down from the command center at the University of Haifa. His colleagues are amused that an aging professor from the same university wants to accompany them. One tells Mikhail to explain to me that he wants to come back later to be a student in my university. A religious couple from Haifa comes out of the bushes carrying large boxes of sufganiyot, Hannuka cakes, and distributes them to the firefighters, thanking each of them personally with a “Spaseeba!”
All around us the brush and trees are smoking. Every gust of wind stirs up ash. Countless fire-fighting planes circle overhead, interrupted by the circling giant American 747 that has just arrived. The command-and-control center for the entire battle against the fires has been set up on the University of Haifa campus. A parking lot there contains so many Russian firefighters that a large Russian flag has been raised. The firefighters are amazed when all of the campus security staff speak and joke with them freely in Russian, and when they see so many posters on billboards in Russian. They are commanded by the Russian Deputy Minister for National Emergencies, the same fellow who led the battle against the forest fires around Moscow last summer. The soft-spoken guy is a giant, a Russian Paul Bunyon, and seems capable of blowing out forest fires with only his breath.
These were not the Hannuka flames Israel was expecting. On the first day of the festival, the top of Mount Carmel looked like one of those volcanoes you see on the National Geographic Channel. The pillar of smoke could be seen from 50 miles away. Gusts of wind bring ash and smoke into Haifa. Residents of some streets closest to the flames are evacuated. Friends and relatives from around the country call and offer us sanctuary if we need it. It feels a lot like the summer of 2006, when Haifa was the target of hundreds of rockets fired by Hezb’Allah terrorists during the Lebanese War. The man at the meat counter in the supermarket jokes with me; if the wind changes direction he will be holding a special sale on barbecued chickens that never even had to be put into the oven. We are all sold out of marshmallows, he adds.
But it was hard to keep a sense of humor in the midst of Israel’s worst-ever natural disaster, one in which over 40 Israelis died in the flames. Besides the bus full of prison service cadets, the victims included a 16-year old Haifa boy who had long served as a volunteer fireman with one of the brigades. He was overcome after he rushed into the conflagration with his colleagues. Another victim was the Haifa Chief of Police, a courageous 52-year old woman, Ahuva Tomer, who died from burns. She was born in the USSR and came to Israel alone as an infant. But do not expect her courage and ordeal to arouse any sympathy from radical feminists. They are too busy cheering on the Hamas terrorists.
There is still debate about the exact cause of the inferno. The government has been claiming that a teenager from the Druse town of Usafiya, located just behind the University of Haifa, was supposedly puffing on a nargila waterpipe near a garbage dump. There is widespread public suspicion that the Israeli government is covering up a grand act of Arab arson in order to avoid Jewish anger at the perps. Even if the government’s explanation is correct, the widespread public disbelief is directly due to the fact that there have been so many cases of Arab arson in Israeli forests in the past. Throughout the large fire last week, the Israeli police repeatedly claimed that it was started as arson, before changing their line. The Druse member of the Israeli parliament, Ayoub Kara, also stated his belief that it was arson.
Whatever the real cause of the Mt. Carmel inferno, there could be no doubt whatsoever about the countless other fires being set all over the country while the international team of firefighters was busy battling the main blaze. These were all, or nearly all, arson attacks by Israeli Arab terrorists. For many years, forest fires in Israel have been set deliberately as acts of ecological terror, including more than one on Mt. Carmel itself. The government prettifies the arson and claims that the fires might just have accidental causes. No one in Israel believes them.
While the international crews were fighting the Mt. Carmel fire, scores – perhaps even hundreds – of fires were deliberately being set by Israeli Arabs all over the country. In many cases, one knew that it was arson because a fire would start in a single area at 5 or 6 different points all at the same time. That is one humongous nargila waterpipe. Just as the police and media confirmed that arson was the cause of these fires, the Israeli Minister for Minority Affairs, leftist Avishai Braverman, denied it and demanded that Israelis stop laying blame. I guess he sees magical waterpipes going berserk all over the place. This is the same Braverman who served for many years as the President of Ben Gurion University and – as such – turned it into Israel’s worst center of anti-Zionist extremism and tenured treason.
Whether the large Mt. Carmel fire turns out to have been set accidentally or deliberately, Israel has for years been the victim of Arab ecological terror. The world media reports every single incident in the West Bank when Arabs claim that Jewish “settlers” have burned or vandalized Palestinian olive trees (while ignoring when the trees belonging to the “settlers” are vandalized). They do so even after the many cases where leftists, foreign “anarchists,” and Palestinian-Arabs have been photographed by the mainstream media vandalizing the trees themselves to make it look like “settlers” were responsible. Yet nary a word in the mainstream media about the countless acts of Arab arson against Israeli forests.
These are the very same Arabs who are deemed by their apologists to be so attached to the Holy Land of Palestine that they desperately need to be given their own homeland there. People who adore their sacred land so deeply that they cannot part with a single blade of grass, even if that is what it takes to allow the Jews to have their own state. Well, now the whole world can behold the real nature of Arab love for the Holy Land – manifested in a campaign to torch it. This is a full-fledged ecological terrorist assault against Israeli Jews, conducted by Israeli Arab terrorists and their collaborators. Haifa Radio reported that Arabs in the nearby town of Faradeis were dancing in joy at the sight of Jewish homes going up in flames. Much of the rest of the Arab world was cheering the devastation.
The Bulgarian firefighters take a breather and rest under a tree that has survived. A sudden breeze makes a small smoking stack of leaves near us emit some flames a few inches high. For the Bulgarians, it is not worth bothering with. I decide to contribute my own effort to this international fight against the Mt. Carmel fire, and extinguish the little flames the way Boy Scouts put out campfires. The Bulgarians smile and applaud, every last one of them.
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