I was shopping in Tel Aviv’s Shuk HaCarmel, late on Thursday afternoon, as news of 40 deaths in a fire in the Carmel Forest started to filter through. And, as is their wont, stallholders were loudly and crudely relaying the first details to shoppers and fellow traders.
But whatever you say about stallholders in the Shuk (and I wasn’t particularly kind about them, last week), their hearts are in the right place . . . something that can’t necessarily be said for much of this country’s (so-called) liberal elite (close relations of its “cultural elite”).
“Israel is a stupid, lawbreaking state. It voraciously devours its own people, and this time devoured them with fire.”
So ranted Yossi Sarid, left-wing political commentator and former Meretz leader, in the following morning’s Haaretz under a headline – Where trees burn… (amended, it would seem, for the online edition) – playing on Heinrich Heine’s prediction pertaining to the burning of books.
“I told you so,” repeats the arrogant bald tosser ad infinitum, delighting in his would-be prescience, while admitting that he knows nothing about the cause of the fire (he couldn’t have, seeing as the deadline for submissions would have been around midnight on Thursday).
You see, Israeli journalists of the far left love nothing more than the knee-jerk response. And while the cause of the fire, together with the obvious lack of preparedness for it, will result in yet another state commission of inquiry, Haaretz’s hyperbole and overkill – Friday’s edition featured two other, similar front page comment pieces (see below) – typifies the kind of gratuitous, tasteless Israel-bashing in which it appears to so delight whenever controversy, hardship or tragedy strikes the country (see, for example, Washing, folding . . . and binning Haaretz?)
While two arrests have now been made, Amir Oren penned Call it murder before any evidence of foul play had come to light. “If [the fire] turns out to be man-made . . . ,” he starts one sentence, before then seeming to forget to amend his stupidly irresponsible title (the online edition adds this qualification as its by-line).
And in The firefighters’ Yom Kippur War – you couldn’t make it up! (title again changed online) – Aluf Benn somehow contrives to use the tragedy to warn “Israel not to embark on war against Iran.”
Can Haaretz really be surprised when, as it has admitted, so many people phone up to cancel their subscriptions? If Israel’s other English language newspaper, The Jerusalem Post, wasn’t quite so lame, I would probably do so too.
(But moving away from these shameless, self-loathing, journalistic assholes to the people who really count . . . ) There are just so many awful ironies in this continuing tragedy, commencing as it did on the very first day of Chanukah. On Friday evening, for example, Israeli TV broadcast the candle-lighting of members of Kibbutz Beit Oren, one of the places worst hit by the fire. And as a kibbutznikit read aloud the blessing ending “she’asa nisim la’avoteinu ba’yamim ha’hem ba’zman ha’zeh” – Who has wrought miracles for our forefathers in those days at this season – the news anchor commented wryly, “In those days, maybe . . . but I am not so sure about these.”
I save till last (and most definitely least) my favourite (if you can have such a thing!) bête noire: Turkey. Following the contemptible way in which this nation of nauseating hypocrites has turned on Israel – its erstwhile ally and even saviour (during the 1999 Izmit earthquake) – over the last couple of years, I would tell Prime Minister Erdogan to shove the two firefighting planes offered to us right up an ‘alley’ (the Turk’s favourite) where the fires don’t burn (except, perhaps, after a spicy kebab).
We will get through this latest test just like we get through all of them . . . and without help from Turkey, or our own dickheads at Haaretz.