Israel’s Carmel Fire: Racism Rears Its Ugly Head Even in Tragedy
The worst forest fires ever to have struck Israel are sweeping through the Carmel Mountains surrounding Haifa. 42 prison guard trainees died when their bus was blocked on a highway and burned, thus cutting off their escape. It is the worst loss of life in a natural disaster in Israel’s history. 17,000 have been evacuated. The University is threatened.
While it is natural for human beings facing such tragedy to look for villains and scapegoats, it’s unfortunate the direction that attention has turned. Israeli Jews have gravitated to a nasty spate of rumors blaming Palestinian Israelis for deliberately setting the fires as an act of terror and protest. This commenter in a comment thread here writes, linking to the Drudge-like Rotter internet news portal (and rumor-mill):
…According to Haifa radio today, Arab citizens in the town of Fureidis, were seen cheering the massive forrest [sic] fire occuring in the Carmel forrest [sic] that has taken the lives of at least 40
In fact, this Arab news source says that on Saturday, the residents of the town actually gathered in the soccer stadium to pray for rain. Either the earlier rumor is wrong or Fureidis is massively schizoid.
Only a day earlier, the same individual wrote this:
…During wartime they’re [Israeli Palestinians] a security risk. Most Jewish Israelies [sic] believe that they’d join the enemy and try to join the war.
And a different commenter writes about the fires:
There are rumors of arson. The rumors blame the fires on Israeli Arabs, Heuzballa’s and even Iran’s agents…Reset Bet (Channel 2, the public news channel) – A wave of arson in the north, two suspects captured.
Rotter itself fuels the flames with this:
Shabak has been called into investigate the forest fires
Since the fires began spreading throughout the north, the national police have transferred the investigation to the Shabak. Great concern that orders to set the fires originate in terror elements.
Funny thing that this alleged report hasn’t been confirmed anywhere else in the Israeli media. But now that it’s circulating in the Israel right-wing underworld of rumor and hate, the notion will have a long shelf life. All this reinforces a right-wing nationalist narrative that proclaims that the Palestinian minority is the enemy within, a force that can never be trusted. One that will side with “the enemy” during war or security crisis.
There’s only one problem with this line of thinking: it’s wrong. Dead wrong. Except for a few minor exceptions and despite massive levels of hate, mistrust and discrimination, Israeli Palestinians have shown remarkable dedication to the State, which is, after all, their country.
Let’s examine the reputable Israeli media reporting on the fires. True, one strain of reporting emanating from the National Police (who tend to follow the Shabak’s lead and be harshly anti-Arab in their views and prejudices) arouses suspicion of arson. But if you read the following carefully you’ll see that the police chief is not claiming the original fires were Arab-inspired arson, but rather that future copy cat fires might be. Also, note how bereft of evidence or proof the police “suspicion” is in the first paragraph and that the police don’t even seem to be basing these suspicions on field investigations:
Close to a dozen fires broke out across the Galilee in northern Israel on Friday, even as fire fighters from Israel and abroad fought to contain a massive wildfire which has swept across a huge swathe of the nearby Carmel region. Police suspect that the new blazes were set deliberately.
Police Commissioner David Cohen earlier Friday warned local police chiefs to prepare for a spate of fires that had been purposely started. Police fear that some would take advantage of the current crisis to start more fires in the region.
Further fueling the rumors were reports that two residents of a Druze village were arrested on suspicion of setting the fires. But the suspects were quickly released:
Two male residents of Daliat al-Carmel were released on Friday after having earlier been arrested on the suspicion that they had attempted to ignite fires in the Carmel hills region.
After being questioned by police, it became clear that the two were not responsible for the acts they were suspected of.
The second strain of reporting seems to derive from fire department sources who are on the scene or in contact with those who are. This strain rejects claims of arson completely:
The initial inquiry conducted by fire investigators has pointed to negligence, not arson, as the cause of the wildfire.
According to the investigation, the wildfire started at one location west of Ussifiya. It is believed that household trash and tires that had been discarded in the area caught on fire and the fire spread. Investigators are looking into what exactly caused the trash to ignite.
While it’s too early to know definitively what the final determination will be, I feel safe saying that it’s likely that Israeli racism fueled by great pain and suffering has induced Jews to level yet another form of blood libel against their fellow Palestinian citizens.
The wild exaggeration hasn’t been limited to blaming Israeli Palestinians either. Ynetnews blares this headline:
Hezbollah Overjoyed by Fire
The body of the report says no such thing. It quotes the following Hezbollah statement:
The great Carmel fire embarrassed Israel’s firefighting capabilities and proved its almost complete incompetence,” a report by Hezbollah’s al-Manar network said. The Lebanese station said the poor performance came despite Israeli claims regarding the IDF Home Front’s full readiness to cope with any emergency and face the implications of an all-out war.
Even most Israelis would agree with these sentiments. So where’s the joy?
I might add that among the 42 Israelis who died during the fires were three Druze and one Ethiopian. Instead of falling prey to ethnic division and scapegoating, why can’t Israelis focus on the fact they all (Jewish and Palestinian) have lost something deep and painful with this natural disaster? Why not acknowledge that the PA sent its firefighters to battle the blaze and Turkey too offered help? Instead of finger-pointing at the weakest link in society and blaming them, why don’t Israelis turn their wrath where it belongs–toward an inept government more attuned to building expensive high-tech walls, Iron Dome anti-missile defenses, and buying F-35 jets as toys for the IAF; when it could’ve bought or leased a single air tanker that could’ve attacked this fire when it was at its origins, instead of having to wait for nations like Cyprus and Greece to send their equipment after the conflagration went out of control.
I write this post in the context of a disturbing survey by the Israel Democracy Institute baring the deep racism inherent in Israel society toward the Palestinian minority. In the ways in which Israeli Jews have contemplated this disaster, the bad news of this poll have been borne out.
UPDATE: An up to the minute report from an Israeli reader confirms that the police are now agreeing that the fire was caused by negligence. What are the odds that any Israeli politician or police officer will ever apologize to Palestinian citizens for promoting these rumors?
96 thoughts on “Israel’s Carmel Fire: Racism Rears Its Ugly Head Even in Tragedy – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Just as Israeli Jews look to blame Palestinians for starting this fire, why couldn’t it be the settlers? After all, they’ve been setting fire to Palestinian land and olive groves for years and most recently turned to mosques. What a great way to make the Palestinians look bad. Oh, maybe not, but it’s a thought based on pattern of behavior.
While Israelis are pointing fingers, after so much praying for rain, why haven’t Israeli Jews thought of blaming God for the fire?
Now that Turkey and even the Palestinians and others critical of Israel have offered their help, Israeli Jews might be thinking: See! God did this so the Palestinians and the Turks and all those other hateful anti-Semites could teach us a lesson in compassion! Oh woe is us…even God can’t be trusted to prove us right!
God bless you. You’ re so right. God is showing them he’ s not anymore with them for their eccids of innocent women and children, and what are they doin’? They point fingers instead of praying.
They can’t understand this lesson, ’cause they have no soul.
Maybe they will do a better world: better in injustice.Not better in love.
I love this blog. I read it regularly, and as an Israeli it’s often like “swallowing frogs” (from the Hebrew) to digest it on a regular basis.
I find myself digging deep to find positives to balance all the true negatives that this blog forces me to see. Because you need a good reason to live in a land that chews up its citizens (all of them..)
But this piece bothers me a little. It’s starting too look a little formulaic. Like it’s trying too hard. What’s the point in here? That Israelis remain racist even in times of tragedy? No great news there – to discover that in times of great stress humans do not become more reasonable and less extreme.
Perhaps the author has been manouvered into a position where to write nothing about such a momentous event in Israel mean he’s emphathising? That he was quiet at a time of national trauma?
It’s not that he’s not right. Some fires are started for nationalistic reasons, but for every fire it’s the first thought in the minds of some. But somehow it just doesn’t work. It’s like a saying they have in Northern Ireland – “Whatever you say say nothing”…
Try for a minute to put yrself in the shoes of an Israeli Palestinian & imagine how all 1 million of them feel when they are accused of perpetrating the greatest natural disaster in Israel’s history. If you could empathize with yr fellow citizens you’d understand the importance of this post. If you think I’m going to stand by while such a blood libel (yes, it’s almost at that level) is levelled against them you’re mistaken.
Further, it’s one thing to read survey results which tell a tale of an Israeli society riddled with racism. But it’s quite another to see this racism at work, manifested in everyday Israeli reality.
I don’t need excuses to write about this subject as you imply. And I never write about a subject unless I think it’s important to do so. This blog isn’t filler & I don’t write because I think I should say something just for the record.
That’s yr opinion. But I’d suggest you ask one of yr fellow Israeli Palestinian citizens if you know any whether this “doesn’t work” for them.
I actually became aware of this many years ago when an Israeli-Arab acquaintance complained about it. This was in connection with another fire, in another place, but the news already announced that a “nationalist” motive was investigated.
Yes, said my acquaintance, it’s hot summer, there are many travelers in this area, it takes just one discarded match to bring up the whole forest in flames, but if it wern’t for us nasty Arabs there wouldn’t be a fire in Israel, ever.
I think they discovered that some kids were playing with matches, or some traveler didn’t put out a fire. No one ever apologised, of course.
Does your acquaintance accept the term “israeli Arab”? I ask because to my knowledge most Palestinian citizens of Israel reject that designation in part because it was devised by the Jewish establishment to 1) separate the native Palestinians who remained in Israel after 1948 from the “more equal” Jewish citizens, and 2) pretend that Palestinians were, after all, just Arabs with no particular historical claim to the land.
I just want to add that despite my sarcasm and anger at the fact that Israelis are immediately looking to blame Palestinians, I hope that everyone succeeds in putting out this fire and no more lives are lost.
“Fire department was slow to respond, pilot says
Eyewitness account raises questions over handling of Carmel brushfire.
“A flight instructor said yesterday he spotted the Carmel fire early and alerted the fire department, but the first plane sent to battle the blaze took off more than two hours later.
The instructor, Alon Chaim, noticed the fire near a rocky area on the outskirts of the Druze village of Isfiya during a flight lesson. Chaim said he reported the fire to the air traffic controllers at Haifa Airport, who in turn alerted the fire department at 11:14 A.M. Chaim filmed the fire while continuing with his lesson.
“I flew with a student. I saw smoke over the Carmel hills,” he said. “I flew over the fire, which at that point was a tiny blaze just outside Isfiya. It was very easy to get to it with a fire truck. I reported the fire to the air-traffic-control tower at Haifa Airport.”
Chaim said he had noticed the fire when it still could have been put out quickly.
The pilot said he later learned that the air traffic controllers first noticed firefighting aircraft in the region at 1:45 P.M.”
Yes – word on the street here (from friends at Haifa University and others) is indeed that the original fire was small and apparently intentionally ignored until it reached uncontrollable proportions. The general sentiment among everyone here (in Haifa) is that the disastrous proportions of this have resulted because of negligence – like this post and comments suggest – and short-sightedness on the part of the “establishment”. A friend told me there were a few fires in the Golan earlier in the fall and the Air Force used a significant portion of their resources putting them out, neglecting to resupply as they figured it was winter and they wouldn’t need them. Sadly they were wrong.
Let’s only hope more countries and ISRAEL’S NEIGHBORS (Lebanon, too, where a fire has broken out in the south now – see ynetnews.com) can continue to lend their aid, as it’s now been over 48 hours and the fire is growing.
As a israeli that lives by the fire – 10 minutes from it i must say a few things. first, israel does not have a problem of ‘racism’ – racism is an american problem, seperating people according to the colour of their skin : asian,african,middleastern,or white – regardless of their countries of origin. in america a nigro is a nigro if he came from ghana or the u.k., and hispanic is someone from ecuador or mexico.
so stop putting your problems on us – we got a different issue. israel is acountry of immigrant from all religions anf faiths and many countries of the world. it’s not about race, it is more about loyalty,time residence,religion,accent,size of ethnic group and it’s political power and so on.
Palestinians have been CONSTANTLY setting fires to the forests deliberately for years. it would not be the first time.
Israeli arab PARLMENT MEMBERS seat with huzbulla,hamas,lybia,syria and deliver meesages of hate upon israel, the country they ‘serve’, from there and take places in demonstrations against israel.
Your blog is a result of peace efforts that started before internet and laptops became so popular -so do’nt ride the wave ,selling ‘peace’you know nothing about by blaming israels side. this fire is a result of neglegance on behalf of the israeli authorities dealing so much with the palestinians and security issue. ENjoy your little stupid blog. let’s see how democratic you get – put this one on,
This racist claptrap is so goddaman tiresome I don’t have the energy to address it. Please, another reader take up the cudgels for me & take this guy down to size.
Well, there is at least one positive thing about “Tooki”. If this is what Israel has left of Hasbarachiks, then they’ve definitively painted themselves into a corner.
You simply can’t address all the bulls… in this one single post. How come one feels so intelligent and rational after reading this kind of crap ?
Oh, good lord, where to begin? Maybe tomorrow there will be time and energy to at least make a start on it.
“Israel is a country of immigrants from all religions and faiths and many countries of the world”
Since when is that the case? What is the percentage of Buddhists, Christians, Muslims and Hindus among those who immigrated to Israel, let’s say in the last 20 years?
Or asked the other way around, what is the criteria you need to fulfill if you want to move to Israel from another country, say Russia or Ethiopia for example?
“Palestinians have been CONSTANTLY setting fires to the forests deliberately for years.”
Have they? And what sources do you have that confirm this? Readers are generally not interested in rumors you see, we like a little evidence to back up a claim.
Can you show us some or is just a rumor you choose to believe in because it is convenient and suits your belief system?
Well, here’s a listing of intentionally set fires in the last 60 days, posted at Mondoweiss. However, these were all set by Jewish settlers in the West Bank.
“Because, I document the news every single day and am aware of the fact that a week does not pass without settlers setting fire to Palestinian schools, homes and agricultural land it’s almost impossible for me not make “political hay” out of the fact that while the remaining 22% of historic Palestine burns to the ground, nobody cares, except for Palestinians.”
Its quite a lengthy list for just the past 60 days. A truly shameful list.
I’ve read that Israel has about 1/6 of the number of firemen per capita of most first world countries. Does it also discriminate against Israeli Arab communities in fire protection like it does in terms of urban development and education?
Isfiya residents said there’s not a single dedicated fire truck to their area. This is part of the reason it took so long for any of them to arrive.
Thanks for that info, Shai. Google lists Isfiya’s population as over 25,000. Its would be a major scandal in the US if a community of such size had not a single fire truck dedicated to its use. Is this situation the same as for Jewish towns of the same size in Israel, or are the Arab towns shortchanged in this aspect as well?
I wouldn’t know, but my guess is that any remote town, kibbutz, or settlement in Israel suffers from the same situation.
“I wouldn’t know, but my guess is that any remote town, kibbutz, or settlement in Israel suffers from the same situation.”
I would be willing to bet quite a bit that this depends on the ethnicity/national origin of the inhabitants. Least likely to have decent services are towns, villages, or neighborhoods populated mainly by Palestinian citizens of Israel, second least likely would probably be Ethiopian Jewish areas followed by those peopled by Jews of Arab, Persian, or Indian background. I would bet something significant that any area inhabited mainly by European Jews has services that are at the very least adequate.
And, of course, the colonies in the Occupied Territories all have superior services no doubt.
C’mon everybody. Let’s keep our prejudices within bounds. Instead of blaming everybody, including god, let’s wait until the results are in. In the meantime and until otherwise established, lets treat this as the natural disaster it is and sympathize with the victims. International aid is forthcoming, including from the USA, Turkey, Egypt, the Palestinians. In times of trouble we help our neighbors even though their fence may be encroaching on our property. Israel was one of the first to send aid to Haiti when that earthquake devastated the country. Let us hope Israel’s tragedy does not end like Haiti’s has.
# Gene Schulman)
Personnally, I’m very astonished to see Turkey sending two water bombers to Israel. A blogger at “Nouvelles d’Orient” posted a photo of a Turkish water bomber landing in the military airport of Ramat David with the words: ‘Turkish aid to Israel’. And another photo of the Mavi Marmara (still retained in Haifa, I think) with the words: ‘Turkish aid to Gaza’.
And for Haiti: Israel was first to arrive – with a heavy PR-staff – and first to leave. Nobody I know bought the Israeli PR-offensive in Haiti, and even the Israelis themselves were sceptic. Here’s a parody from the television:
Haiti?! You are going to give Israel credit for what was nothing more than a PR ploy?
Calling it nothing more than a PR ploy is no better than saying Israel has the most moral army in the world. They were definitely digging for PR attention, but that doesn’t mean that was the sole purpose of flying an entire crew over and setting up first aid tents. Don’t be ridiculous.
Also, Deir Yassin, thanks for the video. I should definitely get back to watching Eretz Nehederet regularly again.
I’m afraid it was the sole purpose.
I don’t believe that, and actually find it offensive that you consider it to be. This is like Israeli Jews saying the Palestinians have provided fire trucks for the sole purpose of PR. That’s bullcrap.
Most of the world believes that everything smacking of do-goodism or philanthropy that Israel does outside it’s borders is for PR. There was tremendous cynicism about Israel’s motives everywhere in the media. All the Israeli media were trumpeting Israel’s virtues in helping the poor unwashed masses of Haiti. THere was even a dumb story about a boy who the Israeli staff named because he was born in their hospital. Self serving hasbara PR all. The former head of Israeli humanitarian field missions who is head of emergency medicine at Hadassah even published a comment at this blog criticizing the motives & nature of this mission. You’ll have to take things up with him, not w. me. I’m merely the messenger for this story. But I know a helluva lot more about what happened in Haiti than you do. I urge that you go back & read the multiple posts I wrote on this story before commenting further.
“This is like Israeli Jews saying the Palestinians have provided fire trucks for the sole purpose of PR.”
No it’s not. Where is the evidence? How much of their time, personnel, and money resources (including TV crews, talking heads, and hair and makeup artists) have the Palestinians devoted to the production of PR over this as opposed to actual assistance in fighting the fire? How much of their time has been devoted to grandstanding versus actually helping fight the fire? Now, compare that to Israel’s “mission” in Haiti.
No it is not. Palestine is next to Israel (personally, I don’t understand how Abbas could ever think of proposing help) whereas Israel crossed half of the world in order to be one of the first in Haiti. They took along PR-staff, and even on the Belgian television, a journalist expressed his astonishment of the huge coverage of the Israeli rescue team. They all had very visible signs showing that they were Israelis – and I remember reading an article with some Israeli politician expressing (off the record) that this was a perfect occasion to improve Israel’s image after Gaza. I’ve tried to look it up, but I cant’ find the article. So if you don’t believe me, it’s okay 🙂
Do you really think the State of Isreal sent off a rescue team to save Haitians for humanitarian reasons, when in the same time they refused – and still refuse – Palestinians to leave Gaza for medical care abroad.
I’m NOT saying that individual Israelis have not morality – but the government surely hasn’t.
@Shirin & Deir Yassin
I’m well aware of the ridiculous amount of PR produced during the mission in Haiti. I am not denying that. I am simply saying it was not the sole purpose of the mission, and that it is absurd to believe that it was. It was a “good opportunity” to do something good AND try and show the world a good image of Israel. Two birds with one stone. To suggest that the mission completely disregarded the value of human life is low.
Okay, I’ll give Israel the benefit of the doubt for once, but don’t ask me which bird was the biggest in that Stone age bird-hunting.
I agree with Deïr Yassin here and would also give it the benefit of the doubt.
While someone may have had the idea just for PR purposes, I am quite sure there were members of that mission who really went to Port-au-Prince because they wanted to help there. In fact, the team there did a good job in medical terms and the ‘Israeli tent’ as it was called had a good reputation with Haitians at the time.
They could have stayed longer however as is usually practice with humanitarian missions, especially in the medical field, as you need to be able to provide after care, referrals and so on, to do the PTSD detection and all that. For that purpose the mission did not stay long enough and did not fulfill some of generally accepted standards for humanitarian aid.
That PR was important is clear and the IDF/government certainly had the capacity to ship TV and radio production and broadcasting equipment with the mission. The extent of which is that we all think of the IDF mission to Haiti as Israel’s way of helping there, or not helping there, depending on what you think about it.
It also totally side-lined what I consider to be the real contribution by Israel to Haiti: IsraAID’s work there. They do it because they believe in it and not to boost anyone’s images abroad.
I do think that potentially Israel actually has an awful lot to give as a nation in terms of skill and expertise when it comes to development and humanitarian issues.
Shai, it isn’t a question of the ridiculous amount of PR produced, it is a question of the ridiculous percentage of time, effort, and resources designated and dedicated to PR as compared to the percentage of time, effort, and resources designated and dedicated to actually providing aid to the Haitians. If the real purpose of the mission had been to provide aid to the Haitians they would have sent medical or rescue professionals in place of makeup and hair artists, and medical and rescue equipment in place of all that broadcasting equipment they took along.
And then there is the fact that they arrived early with great fanfare and self-congratulation, and left a few days later as soon as the PR value had reached the point of diminishing returns, despite the fact that the need for rescue and medical aid had not significantly decreased.
It was one of the most brazenly transparent displays of virtually pure self-interest that we have seen from a country famous for such brazenly transparent displays.
“There was tremendous cynicism about Israel’s motives everywhere in the media.”
Really? Are you saying that the U.S. mainstream media expressed cynicism about Israel’s motives? I’m not disputing you because I don’t recall much of what was going on in the U.S. msm in that regard, but it seems more likely to me that they were reporting whatever they were getting from the Israeli PR machine. If they were expressing cynicism, that is a welcome change!
“THere was even a dumb story about a boy who the Israeli staff named because he was born in their hospital.”
For forgot to mention that they named him Israel – how much more sickeningly self aggrandizing could anyone be? I do remember hearing that on the U.S. msm, and it was reported with the exact opposite of cynicism. It was reported in a nauseatingly saccharin way.
Yes, you’re right. I stated my argument sloppily. I should’ve said there was considerable skepticism in a small number of blogs and media outlets.
I couldn’t remember the boy’s name, but of course it would have to be Israel!
Nonsense. The claims about “the most moral army in the world” (which started out as the PR term “purity of arms”) is contradicted by a mountain of evidence going back well into the pre-state era. The reality that Israel’s “aid mission to Haiti” was intended, designed, and conducted as a PR grandstanding operation is overwhelmingly supported by the evidence. The fact that they spent such a huge percentage of resources on PR crew and equipment instead of on medical and other aid personnel and equipment is sufficient to prove this, and that’s only the beginning of the evidence.
It’s true that Israel is rife with racism and no end of other problems, and it’s important to call it out, but I doubt that all one million Palestinian israeli are feeling accused of blood libel because of a few idiots in the Israeli press. Israeli palestinians (at least the ones I know) are no more susceptiable to sensationalist journalism than their fellow Israeli jews.
Maybe I’m unable to fully emphathize with my fellow palestinians, but I do live in an area of israel where arabs and jews are very much connected. It’s not a perfect life by any means – it’s full of preconceptions and mistaken generalizations. But when Arab and Jewish parents were bringing their kids to the kindergarten yesterday, people were discussing what happened in a frank and open manner. Gods knows this place needs help, but there is normal, open, and respectful communication that I guess is much less interesting to report.
This is only my opinion, but if you want real change we have to advocate for what we do want in addition to protesting against what we don’t.
How many places are there like that in Israel? C’mon be real.
How many kindergartens are there in Israel where Arab & Jewish parents bring their children together? You live in a cocoon. And the worst part of it is that you use yr cocoon to argue that the rest of Israel is as comfortable as yr little one. You use co existence as a means of denying that the rest of yr society wants nothing like what you appear to want. I have no problems w. yr wanting co existence. But this movement needs to be a means to actively & aggressively change the rest of society. If all it does is allow you to sit back on yr laurels, then it’s failed.
Hebrew readers: This article is a great piece: http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/spages/1202038.html
The hurt feelings of some virtuous “Palestinians -Israelis” is so much more important than the destruction of lives, houses and environment. What a weird mind set.
What do you propose ? That Richard and the bloggers on this site jump on the next plane to Israel to help put out the fire ? Many of us won’t probably be let in.
Who are talking of ‘hurt’ feelings ? If you’re “Jewish” – and I put the quotation marks as you around PALESTINIANS – you should be aware of how not only dictatorships but also ‘flawed democracies’ create the “internal enemy”. And Israel is considered a ‘flawed democracy’ according to the lastest Democracy Index published by the Economist.
The blogosphere is already running the ‘Arabs who cheered the fire’, not to mention the ‘two suspects were arrested’ (we don’t have to mention their ethnic origin, do we ?). Some nutcase has already asked me specifically what I thought about that.
Harassing its neighbours, is apparently higher on the list than buying some water bombers. “What a weird mind set”.
I don’t know if you’ve ever read the book “To Kill a Mockingbird” or seen the film. If you had, then you’d know that attempting to accuse someone of a serious crime based on bigotry or racism goes beyond “hurt feelings” and has serious ramifications not only for the individual(s) wrongfully accused, but for an entire community and country.
So please spare me the self-righteous b.s. Like the brushfire that starts off small and quickly gets out of hand; this kind of dangerous bigotry can spread through the rumor mill like wildfire and should be extinguished on the spot before it turns into a raging lynching.
I find your placing the words Israeli Palestinian is quotation marks offensive. If you can’t call yr fellow citizens by the name they prefer to be called then you can’t comment here. Read my comment rules before you comment again. I demand that every commenter show respect to the other side, whatever the side happens to be. If they don’t, they don’t comment.
And yes, racism against those who constitute 20% of the population of yr country is as important as a forest fire, maybe moreso. The fact that you think democracy is less important than a fire indicates yr priorities are truly f(&^ed up.
I’m so sorry, Richard. I only put the quotation marks on Jewish in order to address Ruth. I would never do that on a general basis.
No, no. The problem wasn’t what YOU did. It was, as you noted, the way she twisted the ‘Palestinians-Israelis’ & put it in quotation marks. That was what I objected to. I understood what you were doing & was cool w. that.
Reading this story, I found the subject matter as sad and depressing as are all such incidents where so much death has occurred in the desire to rescue life and save what remains of a natural habitat. And all the more so if all this was caused by an intentional act rather than negligence or some chance happening.
Yet there is comfort to be drawn from the response of surrounding countries and local communities; a desire to help, to mitigate the circumstances and to do whatever is necessary to prevent matters getting totally out of control. A rare glimpse of unity in a region long thought devoid of any such cohesion.
If only the same could be said of that other inferno that has burnt so deeply into the psyche of both Palestinians and Israelis. I wonder why the response there has been so fitful, so lacking in urgency that the conflagration has been allowed almost free rein for well over sixty years.
Mankind, it seems, is more than willing to tackle natural disasters. But those of the man-made variety, these internal fires that have consumed many times more of us, they appear to be inviolate, immune to all but the most brutal of our attempts to remedy them.
Maybe the problem is that we have yet to find the correct retardant to douse these flames, draw the heat from a furnace so full of hate, banked with so many bad memories. Some fires need to be attacked using a specific form of quenching agent. Water, CO2, foam, powder, halon gas, a blanket. Using the wrong type can have the opposite effect from that intended.
Has that been the case here? Has an accelerant be used instead of an extinguisher? And is that why it’s gone on for so long?
I’ll bet those firefighters doing battle with this contagion in Haifa are using equipment designed for such a task. Can the same can be said of efforts to fight that other and older fire raging across a much larger swathe of territory?
I read in Haaretz yesterday that Turkey, Spain, Finland, Russia, Egypt and even the Palestinians have volunteered to put out the fires in Israel.
As the bumbling Israeli inspector Lieberman-Clouseau would say: Hmmm…You’re saying those haters bent on our destruction are helping to put out the fire??
A-HA! I get it! They must be trying to kill us with their kindness? Sacre blue! Queeckly, throw them out – the enemy has a powerful new secret weapon!
Lay off the humour shtick. You have not got a funny bone in your entire earnest and selective “human rights” body. Besides, your usual talking points are satire enough.
A few weeks back you posted a really rude comment in the following blog Richard wrote:
“When Israeli Police Become Criminals, Who Protects Citizens?”
The comment was either in reference to Richard’s blog or to Shirin’s comment on that blog, it wasn’t clear, but it’s really irrelevant whom you directed it to. This was your comment:
1. Ruth says:
November 11, 2010 at 4:29 PM
“Get a job or see a shrink!”
From your response here and the other offensive comment you made Nov. 11; I’d say you have nothing to preach to me about.
Ah, that was our dear friend, Ruth. I’d forgotten. Yes, she is a mistress of rapier wit, isn’t she?
From this ynet article reporting on the Palestinians’ aid in putting out the fire, talkback #28:
There’s no humor here, Ruth. This is actually a way many Israelis think. Sad but true.
Thanks for that Shai. Ruth is delusional.
Thanks for that Shai!
Where do attitudes like this come from? What happened to a person like the one who wrote that comment to think this way? Oh well, we can’t answer that here but maybe one day I’ll do some research on this.
I did not even have to try and dig these comments. They’re all over the place. What is even more interesting than reading Israeli press is reading comments made by Israelis. It’s quite astounding to see how backwards some people have it. I had someone like that at work, who would (unavoidably) argue with me. During one of these arguments, he called me racist because I had called him out on his hatred of Arabs, and told him he’s an Arab himself (Moroccan Jew), and that many of Israel’s Jews are Arabs. It was quite astonishing. One of those moments where you feel there’s simply nothing you can say.
RE: “Israeli Jews have gravitated to a nasty spate of rumors blaming Palestinian Israelis for deliberately setting the fires…” – R.S.
FROM URI AVNERY, 12/02/10:
ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.counterpunch.org/avnery12022010.html
I wonder if all those dimes contributed to the JNF helped to provide some of the fuel for this forest fire. They did go to plant trees in Israel, didn’t they? Or is this all ‘old growth’ forests burning?
On the Jewish National Fund and others.
I know that Gilad Atzmon is very often ‘borderline’ and I normally wouldn’t link to his site, but I think he has some good points on “the burning bush”:
“[Bibi] requested the help of the US, Greece, Italy, Russia, and Cyprus to send additional forces to aid the Israeli firemen. A normal country would probably ask for the help of its neighbours, but the Jewish State doesn’t have neighbours. It made all the neighbours into enemies.”
Gilad Atzmon continues that the fire is far from being a coincidence. Israel is covered by pine trees which are alien to the region. They were introduced in the early 1930s by the JNF to ‘reclaim the land’. The JNF has planted more than 260 million trees mainly on confiscated Palestinian land in an attempt to hide the ruins of ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages and their history. According to GA, the JNF has not only tried to eliminate Palestinian civilization but also to make Palestine look like Europe. The pine trees didn’t adapt to the Israeli climate as much as the Israelis have failed to adopt to the Middle East.”
May the Israelis think a little on those wise words from a former fellow citizen.
[comment deleted for comment rule violations–this commenter wrote 7 comments in 50 mins indicating either too much time on her hands or that she’s professionally employed to do this job. At any rate, you may return & publish a comment after you have read the comment rules & abide by them. Several violations you were guilty of include considering the threads a point-scoring, grand-standing debate society between Israel’s friends & enemies. It’s not. And as long as formulate yr comments as propaganda you won’t participate here. Also, this isn’t a place to lay on thick your opinions. Rather, it is a place where discussion in grounded in fact. And when you claim something is fact you support that w. credible proof, which none of yr comments have done. So read the rules & then return & write a comment that adheres to them. You won’t be published here till you do.
Who are you addressing?
To Deir Yassin: Thanks for the plug about Gilad Atzmon. I’ve been reading him for a while and find he is usually right on target. What people dislike about him, and fear, is his in-your-face, Gonzo style. I certainly empathize with his take on the “reclaim the land” trees. I remember well the dimes my mother would collect in her blue Haddassah kniple she kept on our library shelf. I can’t imagine how many trees she and her Haddassah sisters planted – maybe 10% of that 260 million? If she only knew then that they were being used to cover the ruins of those Palestinian villages so well described in Ramzi Baroud’s “My Father was Freedom Fighter.” She’d plotz! She’s now probably turning over in her grave.
# Gene Schulman)
Oh yeah, that famous money-box for the JNF.
Here is an example of what it was used for – ‘luckily’ your late mother never got to know:
The village of Imwas (the Emmaus of the Bible):
In 1968, one year after the destruction:
In 1978, the ruins of Imwas:
In 1988, the ‘transformation’ is achieved: no more left of Imwas:
The famous “Canada Park” is partly on the ruins of Imwas, and ‘Zochrot’ has some good information on the area.
By the way, I wonder how many ruins of Palestinian villages will be visible, once the fire had been put down.
Thank you for this comment Deïr Yassin. I wasn’t aware of this but it just clicked like when you encounter the truth head on.
This equates to criminalizing events marking the Nakba. Israel wants to erase from history what happened to the Palestinians, what they lost and how they suffered.
Imagine that unlike the Holocaust survivors’ descendants, Palestinian children are being deprived of honoring the tragedy suffered by their parents and grandparents and the resilience they demonstrated in continuing to survive despite it.
Considering that Jews have a whole industry surrounding the Holocaust as Finkelstein wrote, hiding the Nakba is the height of hypocrisy, racism and cruelty.
RE: “They (the JNF dimes) did go to plant trees in Israel, didn’t they?” – me, above
RELATED ARTICLE: GOD-TV evangelical Christian channel funds Israeli ethnic cleansing ~ By Neve Gordon, Redress, 12/04/10
ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.redress.cc/palestine/ngordon20101204
By the way, the number of Palestinians displaced in 1947-49 was closer to 1 million. 750,000 is the number that were counted as refugees, but there were tens of thousands who were never counted as refugees for one reason or another, and yet who were permanently displaced. That does not count those Palestinians who, despite having not been expelled or forced to flee, had their land, homes, and personal belongings confiscated and handed over to Jews under the Alice-in-Wonderlandish “present absentee” pretext and so became internal refugees.
I used Neve Gordon’s number in The Nation article I linked to in my most recent post about Al Araqib.
This is for Mr. Silverstein:
Wayne State University has decided to retire the Helen Thomas Award for remarks she made this Thursday. Thomas pretty much said that she thought criticizing Israel in the US is impossible because the Zionists own Hollywood, the White House, and Congress.
Abe Foxman was allowed to have the last word, saying that Thomas had “besmirched” journalism.
[comment deleted for being off-topic, pls read the comment rules]
I’d like to see big-budget films made on the tragedy Palestinians have suffered. But when a film does actually does get made it has difficulty getting distributed. In fact, I’d love to see an epic-film made on the Nakba with wide distribution…lol! I won’t hold my breath.
Also, I’d like to see Muslims portrayed in a more positive light and not always as the villains in Hollywood.
We all know the power of Israel’s proxies on Washington and Congress. Aipac, the ADL, NGO Monitor, Hebron Fund, and on and on.
Why is it that for the past 40+ years the media has been slanted towards the Israeli version of events and sympathetic only to the Israeli side. Palestinians have gotten a bum deal in the mainstream media. You’ll never see a peaceful Palestinian activist being arrested by the IDF or a Palestinian child killed by the IDF being put on a stretcher or a Palestinian home being bulldozed or any tragic event that Palestinians are suffering on the 6 o’clock news. All you see is Oren or Regev trying to justify a tragic event Palestinians suffered.
How is it that billionaire financiers like Adelson, Saban, Moskowitz and Leviev can get away with putting millions into illegal settlement expansion that derails a peace process that costs U.S. taxpayers billions?
So we must naturally question WHY? Why and how does Israel get away with committing its crimes legitimately, without impunity. How does it control the message and public opinion?
I just described how and why, but it goes much deeper.
Personally, I haven’t seen a single film that depicts the Palestinians negatively. Pretty much every single film I have watched about the Israeli Palestinian conflict is either more or less balanced or leans toward the Palestinian narrative.
Guess you haven’t see a lot of films that depict Palestinians.
Have you ever seen one – other than an independent documentary, that is – that depicts Israel or Israelis in any way negatively. I haven’t.
This is a joke. Even a five years old could deconstruct the negative image of the Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular.
I’m off to work so I don’t really have time, but look up Jack Shaheen, he’s a professor in Mass Media in Chicago and wrote a great book on ‘Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood villifies the Arabs”. There’s a 80 min conference on the net from the American University in Beirut, very interesting, also because he looks on the 9/11 impact.
There’s a 60 min documentary on his book from the French Canadian television, I don’t know whether it’s in English too. You’ll learn about Hollowood’s role and interrelation with the Pentagone. And I don’t have to tell you the enormous amount of Israeli-Americans working in Hollywood, do I ?
Look for Jackie Saloum (American Palestinian): she made a 10 min documentary, a concentration of anti-Arab cuts from major Hollywood films. It gives you a headache. And the Palestinians have a major role in the anti-Arab representation. I don’t have to tell you why.
[comment deleted for comment rule violation]
Disaster always trumps politics. I took this opportunity to focus on the victims and to offer my condolences, and not to air the many grievances I had — many additionally added because of the way the Israeli leadership dealt with this fire, the Israeli press, and some really nasty people who literally told me to shove my condolences up my ***.
Despite the anger I felt, I contacted PressTV and demanded they take some pictures down of the victims they had attached to the article about the fire. I hardly had justification as they had obtained the picture from other Israeli publications, but I wanted to deliver good will. It was my way of dealing with that anger and being able to put off the politics until later, when perhaps more appropriate, and when people (I am, perhaps, naively hoping) will be easier to speak with about these things.
That said, I was also hoping many of these grievances would immediately be aired by Israel’s own. The outrage being directed at the leadership who failed to supply the basic infrastructure to run a modern state. This speaks directly to their inability to make proper cost-benefit analyses. I find this to be their most stark contrast to the Iranian regime.
In response to the alleged arson (for which there is no evidence, but a good argument to make that the leadership is now looking for a scape goat), I should point out that settlers have a history and pattern of committing arson.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=338377 (Feb 2010)
http://www.aawsat.com/english/news.asp?section=1&id=22685 (Oct 2010)
Also, on Haaretz, an Israeli named “Rachel” apparently wrote this (comment #4):
“[Subject:] Too many fires are ignored for too long.
2 days ago, I drove on route 443. On the way there, out of sight of a checkpoint but just before the checkpoint back over the green line, we saw a series of large fires had been set and 3-4 men walking away. We stopped and told a soldier…who sent us to another soldier….who made us explain again to a 3rd – who just shrugged and said it didn’t matter. I was horrified – after we have had several fires set over the past year, and 9 months of drought, how can people setting a series of fires in open land and walking away ‘not matter’? A few months back a friend discovered a fire in a forest while walking her dog, alerted a police car in the area, and they just shrugged and asked what it had to do with them – SHE had to tell THEM that they should get it dealt with and put out. Where are people’s brains these days?”
I could probably keep going, but I think I’ve made my point.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef…”Fires Only Happen Where Shabbat Is Desecrated”.
The chance of devastating fires would have been reduced greatly if there had been more rainfall in the region over the last six months. I wonder what Rabbi Ovadiah thinks about the concept of “Good reign for good rain” ?
It is also interesting to note that it looks like the fires were a result of negligence and not arson. Both can have the same terrible effects but the former method is not conducive to simple blame gaming. The fact that Palestinian and other nation’s firefighters assisted in the efforts is tremendously positive. In all darkness there is light.
World Peace Conference in Jerusalem on May 16th, 2011 anyone ?
In Jerusalem? I wish it were held in Bethlehem.
Maybe they can send invitations similiar to these cards:
By the way, Richard-
Why do you even pay attention to Rotter? Even Israelis acknowledge its being infested with lowlives. Check out this article’s talkbacks. Some readers there have no idea what Rotter is (I only visited it via your blog, and perhaps once or twice in the past, but it was nothing politics-related), and the ones who do condemn it.
I pay attention to Rotter because it has a positively HUGE readership. When anyone publishes a link to my blog there my readership goes through the roof. I want people reading my blog even people who hate me or disagree w. me.
When I first heard about the fire, the many deaths and the obviously needed foreign aid, the cynicist inside my was thinking “Typical. They can afford billions of dollars worth of military equipment to fight Hamas’ ineffective rockets, but they cannot put out a forest fire.”
Later, when I saw footage of the catastrophe, I was shocked at just how ill-equipped the Israeli firefighters actually are. Their vehicles were 1960s-era Mercedes trucks, and the one guy they interviewed stated in plainly that they were entirely dependent on foreign aircraft.
Maybe, just maybe this disaster will give some Israelis pause and make them consider the benefits of peace and acceptance in the region as well as the price of living in a country which spends obscene amounts of money on weapons.
You guys are sooooo full of hate- it’s sickening…
YOu’ve clearly never read a Ynet talkback or Rotter thread about Israeli Palestinians.
Yeah, care for a little explanation?
What exactly do you mean and why do you think hate is involved here?
Richard, actually, I did read the Ynet talkback (although it is not my favorite news source) and quite agree with you that some of the comments are pretty bad. If they are indicative of prejudice against Arabs in Israel, the same goes for hate filled happy comments in Arab media and blogs. Curiosly, you blog is completely silent on that. Here is a good sampling: http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=197963.
Thyere are extremists on both sides.
Having reading some of the commentary produced by your regular contributors, I can conclude that you are not very far from them.
Not interested. This blog has a specific mission & focus. It isn’t all things to all people. If you want condemnation of Arabs for everything under the sun you’ve found it in the JPost. That may be a place more conducive to yr ideological viewpt. If you come here you get my views & my interests. You’re not my editor & I don’t write for you.
And read my comment rules carefully. Call me an extremist one more time & you’re outa here. Follow the rules.
Mr Siverstein, thank you for your polite and friendly response. I didn’t call you an extremist. I stated that SOME of the posts here are close to being extreme. You dont agree? Fine, but I used no ad hominem attacks. I’m not aware that commenting on your blog is limited to only singing praises to your viewpoint. It is unfortunate you dont seem to be able to tolerate different viewpoints. I don’t expect you or anyone to codemn the Arabs for everything under the sun (i dont do that either). but in my view a little bit of balance and objectivity on the subject might be beneficial for a blog claiming to “promote Arab-Israeli peace”. Unless of course, you intend to promote such peace by condemning Israel and its people (80% of them) for “everything under the sun”. You are of course entitled to your own opinion, but it’s more in line with the ‘peace without Israel’ camp.
Neither I nor my posts are extremist. So be very careful about the adjectives you choose. That my posts offend a number of Israelis & their apologists I have no doubt. That my posts are also welcomed by many Israelis & Israel supporters who are critical of its policies I also have no doubt. If you are in the first camp it gives you no right to deny the validity of those in the 2nd, which you have done.
There are scores of commenters here who don’t sing my praises & get along fine. They know how to abide by the rules & if this is something you wish to do you are welcome. You can disagree respectfully & use careful arguments grounded in credible sources; or you can use sloppy propagandist rhetoric & fling insults, accusations, etc. It’s yr choice.
No, actually what’s unfortunate is that you’re so ignorant or such a liar that you don’t recognize that there are thousands of comments published at this blog which disagree w. my views. And before you speak so ignorantly & hastily you might want to do some basic research so as not to discredit yr claims totally, as you have done.
Sorry, this isn’t the NY Times. I’m not a newspaper of record. I have a pt of view. YOu either like it or you don’t. The balance in what I write is there. I often change my mind about issues or express nuanced views as with Julian Assange most recently. What you REALLY want is for me to express more sympathy for YOUR pt of view, which I’m not prepared to do esp. if you don’t present cogent reasons for doing so, which you haven’t.
This is another major comment rule violation completely mischaracterizing what my real views are on the subject. Future comments will be moderated as you don’t seem to have read the comment rules as I insisted that you do. Further violations may cause loss of your privileges altogether.
Some of the most glaring examples:
1) Blaming setllers for starting the fire without any shred of evidence and essentially peddling the notion that Arabs/Palestinians can do no wrong and the Israeli Jews (and especially the settlers) can do no right
2) Statements that “Israelis remain racist even in times of tragedy”- stereotyping and slandering the whole people. If the same approach were used to analyze the examples of Arab racism, I would have just concluded that your analytical and journalistic skills are rather weak and shoddy. However, since no attempt was made to depict the examples of Arab racism, I conclude that you are inherently biased.
3) Shirin’s wild and baseless speculations (presented as almost fact and unchallenged by anyone here) that the availability of firefighting services depend on the ethnic origin of the inhabitants and that Arab population centers have less than “Ethiopian Jewish areas followed by those peopled by Jews of Arab, Persian, or Indian background” followed by areas with “European Jews”. Not only this is baseless, and Tel Aviv has no better firefighting services than Haifa or Jaffa, the notion that Israel has distinct municipalities “peopled” (assuming as constituting the majority) by Ethiopian, Arab, Persian ort Indian Jews is false too.
4) Denigating all Israeli humanitarian efforts (Haiti, Turkey earthquake, tsunami relief etc) (all PR, you see) while extoling the Palestinian and other neighbors’ assistance as genuine. Again the notion is that Israel can do no good.
5) Making baseless suggestions that all Israeli forests were planted with a sinister purpose in mind: to “hide” the evidence of “Palestinian civilization”.
6) Suggesting that Israel/Jews/Zionists “control” and “own” the Congress, the White House and Hollywood. In the eyes of most reasonable people, this would be anti-Semitic stereotyping
7) Demanding that “Israeli Palestinian” is used instead of ‘Israeli Arab” (based on the premise that the former is preferred by the people in question), while insisting that Israeli Jews originating from the Arab countries should be identified as Arabs (althought very few if any of them would identify themselves thjis way). No reprimand from Mr Silverstein here, who is usually quick to ban posters using politically incorrect (in his opionion) terms for Arabs/Palestinians, Canaanites (or whatever they call themselves)
8) Suggesting that “Jews have a whole industry surrounding the Holocaust”
9) Ad hominem attacks on people no towing to the party line (“Ruth is delusional”). Imagine what would happen to anyone saying say in the opposite direction, ‘Shirin is a nutjob”?
10) Suggesting that helping Israel was wrong (Deir Yassin: “I don’t understand how Abbas could ever think of proposing help”). Thank you Deir Yassin, you have a lot of humanity in you.
11) Suggestions by Deir Yassin that Israel “doesn’t have neighbors [because] it made all the neighbours into enemies.” I think this pins all the blame on Israel and deliberately ignores Arab rejectionism. After all, Deir Yassin, the conflict is not so simple and black and white as you present it, and the neighbors are or were the models of peaceful neighbor-like conduct.
Final comment: the fire is a tragedy, for all Israelis, regardless of faith or ethnicity. If you try and show a little more humanity, and less biased stereotyping, perhaps you can have a more positive controbution towards peace in ther Middle East. You may also be takem more seriously.
You’re probably the latest Hasbaratchik sent from the Ministry of Propaganda. We know the lullaby by now: start saying the the situation is complex, that both sides have made mistakes, that we all want peace blablabla.
You’re manipulating what has been written here. I’ll stick to two points that you addressed me.
You should read people carefully before attacking them. Gilad Atzmon, and not me, was talking about Israel and its neighbours. It’s perfectly clear, I quoted him with quotation marks and a link to his article.
And yes, I don’t understand how Abbas could ever dream of proposing help to Israel. It’s not a neighbour but an occupying power, killing Palestinian civilians on a daily basis.
I might still be haunted by the photos of the German photographer Wiederhöfer who has been exposing his photos in the Museum of Modern Art where I live, and during the week-end I met the young girl from Gaza that you’ll see on the first and the last photo. She’s here go get a prosthesis after Cast Lead. So I’m sorry for my ‘lack of humanity’.
Oh, by the way, she’s 16 years old, her name is Djamila, and she waited for month before being permitted to leave Gaza.
Save your ‘the conflict is not so simple and black and white . . . ” for someone else.
I’m not going to respond to your ‘hasbaratchik” and “blalblabla lulluby” language- you are yet to learn the language of a civilized debate.
I will only say this: I really dont see how your hatred, anger and degumanization of Israel is going to bring us all peace. If you are a friend of Palestinian cause (and I assume that you are), with friends like this they don’t need any enemies. Promoting peace involves listening to and trying to emphatize with the other side. You are clearly a failure at that and you have nothing to teach either side.
I’m sorry about the loss if innocent life, on both sides. But let me ask you this: are you also being haunted by the pictures mutilated bodies of Israeli teenagers, some also 16 and younger, from a suicide bombing attack at a disco in Tel Aviv? If you are, your postings don’t show it, perhaps because it’s not the focus of this blog as Richard pointed out. Or perhaps your “humanity” is quite selective.
Here’s one of my unwritten rules regarding people like you. You don’t come barging into the comment threads & start teaching everyone else the proper way to talk, write, analyze, critique, etc. the Israeli Palestinian conflict. If you do, then you’re a chutzpan, for which I have no use.
Promoting peace means establishing justice. Israelis & their apologists seem to want others to speak nicely to them w/o reminding them that there is an issue of injustice to be addressed. I can’t speak nicely to someone till I know they’re willing to confront the injustice for which they’re responsible directly & forthrightly. I don’t see that in you or any of the others.
I’ll thank you for not making any judgments about whether other commenters here are failures. I’ll let their words speak for them rather than you.
Any time an Israeli apologist like you starts out a statement like this:
You can be sure that what follows is a denial of the injustice committed against Palestinians. But somehow liberals like you think if you start out expressing pro forma sympathy for Palestinians that this enables you to state yr real views, which are pure propaganda.
You’re dusting off the hasbara of events that happened yrs ago while we unfortunately have much more recent pictures from this and recent weeks of innocent Palestinians killed by the IDF. Their bodies too are mutilated. You’ll forgive me for my not having seen you write anything about loss of life on the Palestinian side that is 10 times that of the Israeli side.
So here’s the final deal as far as you’re concerned. If you’re here to grandstand & score debate pts. that’s not what the blog is for. We don’t do Firing Line here. We do discourse on political issues based in facts and serious political analysis. If you’re prepared to do this, keep on. But if you’re here to propagate an ideological pt of view, you won’t last long.
That’s fine, Richard. Relax. No need to threaten me. Sorry for barging into your private space. My bad, I’ll retreat at once. I have no further interests in expessing my opinion on your fine blog. Please continue debating the issues with a dedicated audience of half a dozen people (who by the way constantly flout your “rules” especially regarding making “careful arguments grounded in reliable sources”). I’m sure you find it very intellectually satisfying. Also, you may have noticed that unlike you in the comment above, I never called you an ignoramus or a liar (althought I have to admit it was tempting). One famous person (not a Zionist btw, so should be okay for you to consult) once said that people who resort to personal attacks have no credible argument. Lastly, written language can me misleading in conveying emotions, but you do come across as a very angry person. Since I have no doubt that it’s all Israel’s fault (all bad things under the sun are Israel’s fault), i do offer my profound apology for inadvertently contributing to this condition. Now, please go ahead and revoke my “privileges”. I’d say that having no privileges on your blog is quite a privilege. Thank you.
Don’t be such a pissant. 750,000 unique visitors ea. year share my “private space.” You don’t know what you’re talking about. If you have no further interests expressing yr opinion why did you bother to do so here?
I didn’t call you an ignoramus which is typical of yr imprecision. I said you were either ignorant or a liar. I stand by that.
Oh lawdie. One of Israel’s great friends finds it hard to understand why someone who actually loves Israel would be angry at the mess it has made of things. Ooooh, angry. Mustn’t be. Must be kind, nice, gentle. Say things the poor Israelis can stand to hear in a nice calm voice that won’t threaten them. Got news for you buddy. Not the way the world works. You either follow the general rules established by civilization or as a country you face getting a good swift boot in the rear.
I don’t understand why you won’t come clean about your blog’s purpose, when it is obvious you want as many people (especially those for whom you wait to “confront the injustice for which they’re responsible directly”) as possible to read it. Robert notes the biased premise of the blog and its commenters, not its validity.
I can honestly agree with BOTH of you. Bias only means the blog is not balanced, which indeed it is not. It inherently makes no attempt to critique Palestinian wrongdoings.
Once readers like Robert are openly told this – they will no longer look to rebut legitimate criticisms of Israeli policy/culture with bias claims, and will instead proceed to face the problem, and will eventually be much more likely to confront the injustices that are discussed.
I say this because I once was a Robert myself, but after a lengthy email exchange with you in which you clarified this very point I was able to move on, and be the avid reader I am now.
I “come clean” about my blog’s purpose not only in the blog’s About page, but virtually every time an Israeli apologist attempts to distort my mission forcing me to explain it yet again for the 1,000 time it seems.
The blog critiques Palestinian militancy though it doesn’t do so nearly as much as the Roberts of the world believe it should.
I’d sure like to believe you. But Robert’s record I’m afraid doesn’t warrant such confidence in his openness or willingness to confront anything like what you stated. I wish you were right though.
Thanks Shai for those nice words. I appreciate that.
Since my comments were mentioned in Robert’s criticism, I would like to add my response.
Robert, I responded to Strelnikov’s comment regarding Helen Thomas, although it was directed at Richard because I felt that his comment was intended for provocation more than anything else, but you are much more nuanced in your strategy.
The truth is this: Hollywood, the mainstream media and Congress as well as many Zionist financiers enable an illegal occupation, illegal settlement expansion and all help in legitimizing crimes against the Palestinian people because Hollywood and the media present a one-sided picture and to use your excellent expression, have exercised “selective humanity” for DECADES, and in the case of Congress and private funding, support one side only, the Israeli side, with foreign policy and/or funding.
I have no sympathy for anyone who cries Anti-Semitism when it’s blatantly obvious that this collaborative complicity stands in the way of justice for Palestinians and on this obvious imbalance they remain silent. Perhaps in the case of Hollywood it is more a fault of omission than commission, by ignoring the countless tragedies that Palestinians have suffered and the books written which could be turned into scripts, but the negative portrait that Hollywood paints of Muslims certainly doesn’t help to garner sympathy for the Palestinians with the public in general. It’s clear that Zionist bias generates these negative stereotypes and even dehumanizes Muslims, shunning the Palestinian experience altogether.
I also wrote this, that you mentioned:
Considering that Jews have a whole industry surrounding the Holocaust as Finkelstein wrote, hiding the Nakba is the height of hypocrisy, racism and cruelty.
I didn’t write this to diminish the suffering experienced by Jews in the Holocaust, or because I have no compassion for what Jews suffered, but because Israeli Jews are trying to erase the Nakba from history and from the memory of the descendants of Palestinians who suffered it and Israeli Jews better than anyone should know what that kind of pain means. This subject makes me very angry because I see how the Holocaust is used to diminish the suffering of Palestinians (for ex: ‘their suffering is not as great as ours was’). I see how the victim card is used by Israelis to invoke guilt and sympathy especially from EU countries so that foreign policy will benefit Israel and it can get a pass for all its violations of treaties and UN Resolutions. Also, Jews have memorials, museums, events and even laws world-wide which honor the Holocaust and protect it. Palestinians have no such protection for their tragic experience. This is a huge advantage for Israeli PR, and forgive my expression, but Israel milks this advantage for all its worth. I find this so wrong. I find it immoral to use this landmark tragedy in human history to exact political favor and sympathy and rob the Palestinians of the compassion and justice they deserve today.
You remind me of the girl in Finkelstein’s audience who brought up the Holocaust to throw Finkelstein off the rails much like Strelnikov here brought up Helen Thomas to provoke Richard on the issue of Anti-Semitism.
This is called emotional blackmail and it’s one of the most powerful tools of manipulation. Unfortunately, it’s worked for much too long, and it’s the strategy that’s deprived the Palestinians of justice all this time. You describe our comments as hateful and one-sided. No, what’s hateful to you is exposure, because your goal is to muddy the water, fudge the facts and shade the truth. Also, keep in mind that the scale of perception is so much tipped in Israel’s favor that we cannot afford to give even an inch to those desperate to keep it off balance, and who like yourself, use emotional blackmail (ie invoking a tragic event no longer current) which is much more hateful, and use it so proficiently to shield and ensure an unjust reality.
I have to applaud Richard for doing an excellent job at cleaning your clock.
No one accused settlers of starting the Carmel fire. Settlers routinely engage in arson against the fields of Palestinians. This is a documented phenomenon. They don’t burn down the fields of Jews though.
Did I say every Israeli believes the things I quoted these Israelis as saying or believing? Of course not every Israeli believes them. But they are generally well founded within Israeli social consciousness. I merely offer evidence written by Israelis themselves of what is said about Israeli Palestinians in their own media. If you don’t like the message why smear the messenger?
“Balance” is what Israel apologists resort to as a slogan when the news isn’t to their liking. Got news for ya buddy, this ain’t a college textbook or even a Wikipedia article. My blog isn’t a newspaper of record. It’s a record of my interests & thinking on political subjects related to Israel. For “balance” just check out the Rotter comment threads. They’ll give you all the “balance” you need.
We deal in facts & sources here. Can you prove that the Druze village where the fire began has any fire apparatus at all? Now, if you want to argue that it isn’t just Palestinian villages which are negligently provided with fire fighting equipment and the scourge affects the entire nation, we can debate that. But Shirin’s comment is actually prob. not far off the mark as funding for Palestinian Israeli municipalities & villages is pathetically small compared to Jewish communities. It’s very likely neither the village nor the entire area surrounding it has any firefighting equipment. Now, if you’d care to provide an actual source (a credible one that is) proving otherwise, pls do so.
Shirin wasn’t arguing this. She was arguing that Palestinian communities have almost no services or infrastructure including fire fighting equipment. But I do see what you are arguing is that the entire country is treated criminally
negligently in having insufficient protection. Doesn’t speak well for the government now does it?
Omigod, you can’t be serious. Have you been to the Northern Triangle lately? What is the proportion of Jews to Palestinians you see there? Seen any Palestinians living in Kfar Shmaryahu lately? Are you actually totally ignorant as you appear, or do you merely think we’re stupid enough that we won’t know better when you spout this nonsense. Every major survey of social stratification notes Israel is severely stratified.
Did I say “all?” Funny, I could swear I didn’t use that term. But Robert surely must know because he’s never distorted or mangled his opponent’s arguments. No, I said that JNF & ILA use this tactic to obliterate the memory of Palestinian communities & so they have. Again, you don’t like the news take it up w. the Israelis reporting it like the NGO Zochrot, which documents such injustice; or Neve Gordon, who noted the tactic in his Nation article. I didn’t invent this stuff, fella. I’m merely reporting what is commonplace Zionist history. If you disagree then prove me wrong.
I never insisted any such thing. Israeli Jews from Arab countries are usually known as Mizrahim. Where do you think Mizrach is? What is east of Israel? Arabs. So what would you call such people other than Arab Jews? Would you call them ‘Israelis formerly known as Arab,’ sorta like the old Prince moniker? Somehow, it just doesn’t work for me.
I dare you to find the words you’ve put in quotation marks here. Which is typical of yr slice & dice hit & run dirtbag debate style. “Jews” don’t have a whole industry around the Holocaust. But some Jews like Abe Foxman do. You know, you’re a real scumbag & I’m liking you less by the minute. By the time I’m done writing this comment you may be gone for good.
Oh, you mean rejectionism like Assad’s repeated pleas for Israel to negotiate peace; or Abbas’ perpetual offer of peace in return for territorial compromise; or Sadat’s trip to Jerusalem; or the Arab League’s 2002 offer of normalization of relations w. Israel. You mean THAT rejectionism?
It pains me deeply not to be taken seriously by Robert, who of course knows that those 750,000 who visited here in the past 12 months did so because they don’t take me seriously either. Yes, it’s just me and Shirin and Deir Yassin and a few diehards sending up smoke signals no one else ever sees. It’s a lonely life. But somehow we’ll just soldier on through oblivion Robert-style.
For the record my post on Wayne State was not meant as a provocation; I was passing on some news.