Saturday, December 4, 2010

Forest Fires Rage in Israel: The International Response, Politics,The Press and our Earth

A foreign firefighting plane passes over the Mt Carmel fire. (photo from Israeli media)
Satellite Image of  Fires Burning in Israel: Provided by NASA

Greece, Bulgaria, Cypus, Jordan, England,Turkey, Egypt, England, Russia, France, Italy, Croatia, Rumania, Azerabaijan, Spain, USA and the Palestinain Authority. As of today (December 4th) that is the list of countries that have rushed specialized wildfire fighting equipment, firefighting aircraft and wildland firefighters to aid Israel as the worst natural disaster in their history continues to char the landscape and threaten lives.   And you may wonder just what I am writing about?  Israel? Forest Fires?  Sadly, this unprecidented wildfire that has killed 41 people in and around the Carmel Forest (near the port city of Haifa) has barely been mentioned in our news. Today's paper has just 3 sentences buried on page 10. And if the scope of the  fire that has created near apocalyptic scenes and horrifying images (many fatalities were young female prison guard trainees trapped in a bus by the inferno while racing to evacuate prisoners)  as it spread with unprediticable speed over the parched landscape was not enough to make headline news, the  international response should be.  In a word: Impressive. Perhaps a better word would be: Gratifying

Look closely at the list of those countries again. Many of the countries are not what you would call  best buddies of Israel. But the world's firefighting community came to Israel's aid with more than condolences - they sent their best specialized equipment and manpower. And they breeched diplomatic standoffs. Most notably is the Muslim country of Turkey. Prime Minister Erdogan was quoted by the Israeli media as stating, "In the face of such a natural disaster, we needed to help as a humanitarian and Islamic requirement. Our planes will remain in your country until the fire is brought under control." And three Palestinian fire engines remain on the Israeli firelines. As nightfall darkened Israel on this Saturday, the orange glow from wildfire on hillsides near homes and livestock remains.

At sunrise Sunday the pilots from Europe and the Middle East on their  flame retardant dumping mission will once again to take to the sky, among them this time a Boeing 747 Super Tanker from Arizona.  The international armada of planes great and small is oddly reminiscent of the world wide pilot cooperation in the movie thriller Independence Day when we battled alien invaders. Incidents such as this wildfire should remind all of us it is one Earth we live on and we are one community. And natural disaster is sadly often the best common bond.
A Russian bomber-tanker drops water on flames advancing on Village of Nir Etzion
A small firefighting plane from the international flotilla of aircraft  scouts the scene. (Photo from Israeli media)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well this is the first time I heard of this . I try to stay away from the news a little It's all too much to take in sometimes with all the things that are going on in our country as well, at this time. It is all so Heart breaking. Love reading your articles Jonathan. It is all so true, and u definately have a big heart for everything and everyone.
looking forward to the next one. Thanks.

December 4, 2010 at 3:24 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was definitely an international scale disaster. There are not enough words to console the 41 families of those lost in the fire.
I think what may amaze many people is that Israel does have forests (not only a desert with camels). Unfortunately it will take 30 or 50 years for this beautiful green part of the country to try to return to what it was. Parts of the forest were indigenous trees, others planted. Also damaged was the "Hai Bar" nature reserve which is a breeding and reacclimation center for endangered and extinct animals (which formerly lived in Israel) that are bred here for possible reintroduction to the Mediterranean forest of Northern Israel. Most of the animals were saved, but many small animals in the wild were definitely lost. When the forest will start to grow back, it is quite likely that some of the plants and animals that were there, will not come back, and may be lost forever.

December 4, 2010 at 11:47 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jonathan, thanks so much for enlightening us on this horrific event .. however is it possible that a humanitarian effort displayed by countries at odds might have a lasting effect while what is lost in terms of animal and plant life may never be .. one door closes might another open.. very sad situation can't believe so belittled in the news..

December 5, 2010 at 9:22 AM 

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