Akiva Eldar
December 6, 2010 - 1:00am

In everything that pertains to locating the source of fires, water shortages, flight safety, earthquakes, etc. - subjects that require long-term planning - our decision makers prefer to use a method of pinpoint handling. It is known as "putting out fires." Yet the disaster in the Carmel has shown that we are also far from being able to be called world champions in putting out fires.

The hands that set the forests ablaze, and the state authorities that were negligent in protecting its citizens, have caused more than the deaths of dozens and the loss of homes of thousands: They destroyed another layer of the myth that the State of the Jews is a military-technological superpower that should not be trifled with. In security-related literature this is called "deterrence ability."

The convoy of firefighting aircraft that came in from the West was reminiscent of the airlift of arms which the American government sent to Israel during the terrible days of the Yom Kippur War. That was at the peak of the Cold War, which divided the Middle East between the two large blocks. Now, the prime minister of Israel can call Moscow on Friday evening and on Saturday morning a Russian firefighting plan will land at Ben-Gurion airport.

Who would ever have thought in those days that Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority would rush firefighting vehicles to Ein Hod?

It is true that there is no shame in asking for help from the world in order to contain a fire, a plague or a flood. Big, wealthy countries have also needed external assistance in emergencies. But few are the countries who just a day earlier gave the world the finger and complained of being delegitimized.

Not for a moment should we be inclined to consider the possibility that we can perhaps trust our Muslim neighbors, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was quick to announce; after all, it was the Germans, not us, who turned to the "evil ones" in Ankara for assistance. Yitzhak Shamir would say about this that the fire is the same fire and the Arabs are the same Arabs.

Just when things were becoming warm and cozy in our isolationist and self-righteous ghetto, the enemies of Israel insist on rescuing us from trouble. Why should it have happened to us just now, when WikiLeaks has revealed the ostensible scoop that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not exactly "the cup of tea" of the pragmatists Arab leaders, and that they have no problems going to sleep at night, even though the Palestinians still don't have no state?

Why did those two punks forget to put out the fire just when the public began to believe that Egypt and Jordan do not care that Hamas and Hezbollah are building up their power on the ruins of Oslo? Perhaps there is something in what Rabbi Ovadia Yosef had to say - that this is punishment for violating the sanctity of the Sabbath?

After the flames on the homes of Kibbutz Beit Oren die out, we will go back to haggling with the Americans over building a few more homes in Ofra, the Knesset will pass the law annexing Ariel (35 MKs have already signed it ), and we will expel a few more Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah.

Benjamin Netanyahu will propose to the Palestinians, as he told U.S. congressmen (according to WikiLeaks ), a state-municipal entity that is demilitarized and whose borders are controlled by Israel, as are its air space and air waves. Labor will continue supporting the prime minister who has calmed down the members of the Likud faction, and whose vision is to give the Palestinians responsibility for "managing the sewage system of Jenin."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas already carried out his threat to hand back to Netanyahu the keys to the sewage system of Jenin and to put an end to the dragged-out "peace process". The international-regional coalition that rallied to put out the fire on the Carmel will remain available to Israel for every peace move. However, when Hamas storms the Muqata, no country will send firefighters to ensure that the blaze from Ramallah will not spread onto the settlement of Psagot.

Occupation is not a natural disaster, but the work of men. Mostly our doing. Israel will continue to be alone in countering the local and strategic implications of the occupation, and the cynical use that is made of it by Iran.

A commission of inquiry should be set up to examine the failures that caused the Carmel forest fires and the firefighting system. More importantly, we should prepare for a much bigger blaze that will break out as a result of a lack of political planning that lasts any longer than the next newscast. And this is even more important after it has once more emerged that our fate is in the hands of leaders who are not even able to put out fires.

Those who have been burned before should not play with fire.


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