The ‘mehdal’ we need to fix

December 12, 2010 21:41

A key decision for the government, as underlined by Carmel fire, is to unify all emergency and rescue authorities under one ministerial office.

4 minute read.

Firefighters battle Carmel blaze

Carmel Firefighters 311. (photo credit:Associated Press)

The Yom Kippur War left a scar on the state of Israel that has yet to fully heal. Thousands of dead and wounded paid the price for the intelligence failure at the time, the false “conception” that there was little chance of an Egyptian attack upon us. That war gave birth to a concept that has accompanied us as an eternal shadow ever since – the mehdal, the enormous blunder. This one word encapsulated the public’s anger and disappointment over the unforgivable blindness that overtook the political and military leadership in October 1973.

Almost four decades have passed and mehdal has become a common term used to describe any and every error, grave or not, major or slight. It is no longer uniquely reserved for only the most traumatic event or national calamity. Our national soccer team fails yet again to qualify for the World Cup – a mehdal! A Tel Aviv rapist escapes from under the noses of two police officers – an irreparable mehdal! A political party’s computers crash on the morning of the primaries and the lines to the voting booths become longer than expected – an unforgivable mehdal! Since the huge fire in the Carmel resulted in the deaths of 43 people and destroyed millions of trees, the term mehdal is once again on everyone’s lips. The familiar battle has begun. The opposition calls for the resignation of the prime minister and interior minister. The media demands a state commission of inquiry to examine the reasons behind the disaster.


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