December 12: Spreading the blame in the Carmel Fires

Blame for fires: lack of parental guidance, fire fighters response times; back off of Yishai

December 12, 2010 07:24

letters. (photo credit: JP)


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Yishai not at fault

Sir, – We are told in “Why Eli Yishai must not resign” (Terra Incognita, December 8) that “...Yishai had in the past demanded an increase in the fire service budget.”

In Israel, “man proposes, God disposes” has been transformed to “the Knesset proposes, the Ministry of Finance disposes.” No thinking citizen can miss the fact that through the distorted way in which the bureaucratic machinery of the legislature operates, the country is now run by the Treasury.

In the final analysis, the blame for half the country going up in flames can thus be laid at the door of the Ministry of Finance.

Beit Zayit

Sir, – Sadly, Seth Frantzman is right when he points out that the Carmel fire unleashed indiscriminate recriminations and blame against Interior Minister Eli Yishai although “[n]ot one solid fact shows Yishai to have been negligent.”

As Frantzman noted, Yishai was hardly deserving to be picked out as the fall guy for this horrible tragedy, but it seems to satisfy those who, rather than seeking the truth, are almost too happy to point an accusing finger.

Isn’t it about time that all those who share genuine concern for the national well-being make their voices heard?

Petah Tikva

Spreading the blame

 Sir, – As officials begin the blame game over the tragic Carmel wildfire, there are many directions they will be pointing. Yet two things will probably be overlooked.

First and foremost is the lack of proper parental guidance, as the youth who was in the woods smoking a water pipe either was not taught the dangers of smoking or succumbed to its glorification.

All parents should talk to their children about the dangers of smoking.

Second, the Ministry of Health has failed miserably in reducing smoking, let alone in any noticeable educational campaign on its dangers. We can learn from the US, where laws and policies protect people’s right to breathe air that’s free of second-hand smoke.

While some anti-smoking laws exist in Israel, enforcement leaves much to be desired. I personally have witnessed blatant violations that are actually tolerated where smoking is supposedly not allowed.

Adopting tougher measures will reduce smoking, reduce lethal health issues and, yes, help prevent forest fires.


Sir, – The real cause of the forest fire was not teenage smoking.

It was not underfunded or under-equipped firefighters, or even the refusal to accept firefighting equipment from non- Jews.

The fire was first reported when it was still small. More than an hour went by before firefighters showed up at what was then an out-of-control situation.

Where were those firefighters?


Sir, – Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s reported explanation for the sickening deaths during the fire on the Carmel – that they were due to Sabbath desecration – recalled for me Carl Sandberg’s bitter comment on the death of a seamstress in a workshop fire: It was the hand of God and the lack of fire escapes.


Property and racism

Sir, – Michael Marmur (“The fire is still burning: Racism is spreading,” Comment & Features, December 8) sarcastically describes the rabbis who forbid the renting or sale of property to non-Jews as “saintly.” I would call them despicable. (By the way, I am an observant Jew.)

Ganei Omer

Sir, – Michael Marmur’s piece about the spread of racism by Orthodox rabbis to me appears to be a sad excuse to malign Orthodoxy and post a ridiculous argument that seems to indicate he has no clue as to how both Jews and Judaism have survived attempts aimed at their annihilation for over 2,000 years.

He has the audacity to bring up Mattathias, hero of the story of Hanukka, as well as the candles lit on the holiday, questioning whether they are “symbols of bigotry or of boundary maintenance, of hatred or of hope?” If Jews such as Mattathias and good oldfashioned traditional Judaism did not survive, there would be no Jewish nation, no State of Israel to be a beacon of light to the nations. (Yes, even with all of the faults that encompass Israel, we still hold the higher moral ground when it comes to compassion and helping those in trouble.) This letter is not a defense of all Orthodox rabbis or of every utterance they make. Orthodox rabbis are not monolithic. They have differing opinions as well.

I challenge Marmur to salute those Orthodox rabbis who in fact are supportive, for example, of soldiers who convert to Judaism via IDF conversion programs.

Then we will see just how high a level of tolerance he has. He can still repent and apologize for this maligning.

Beit Shemesh

It’s the oil, stupid

Sir, – Regarding “City rabbis: Don’t sell or rent property to non- Jews” (December 8), don’t worry – they will change their minds when it comes time to sell our hametz next Pessah.


Sir, – David Dabscheck (“Et tu, liberal?,” Comment & Features, December 7) accurately describes the evolution of Israel into a more tolerant and pluralistic society even as liberals and much of the international community increasingly demonize it. However, tying liberal disenchantment with Israel to the relative eclipse of the dominance of European Jewry in Israeli culture misses the mark.

Certainly, most of those in the international community who condemn Israel are not European Jews and thus couldn’t care less about the decline of Ashkenazi influence. And Jewish intellectuals who criticize Israel say they are mainly concerned with the occupation, an assertion that is consistent with general liberal outlooks.

The erosion in support for Israel stems mainly from the failure to provide a significant source of alternative energy, which means that trillions of dollars continue to accrue for some of the most retrograde and aggressive regimes on earth, providing them with enormous political influence in the media and academia, both liberal domains.

The challenge of liberal realists is to help other liberals see that no amount of slick propaganda can conceal the ugly truth about the uncompromising nature of global jihad and the need to defend ourselves against it.

Jericho, Vermont

Lose the platitudes

Sir, – Cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser resisted calls from MKs from across the political spectrum to change Israel’s approach to gaining Jonathan Pollard’s release (“Gov’t resists change on Pollard,” December 7).

It is an eternal stain on this country that Pollard has been abandoned.

How else does one explain that with all the concessions forced upon us by our supposed friend America, never once has our government made it a condition to first have Pollard freed. It should be noted that at all times, Pollard has refused to consider his release in return for the release of terrorists from Israeli prisons.

This is a man of principle, which is a heck of a lot more than we can say for our prime minister, who was quoted in the same issue (“Ann Pollard arrives in Israel”) as saying so hypocritically that “Israel has a moral obligation” to help the first wife of Jonathan Pollard, and for our foreign minister, who said “we did the best that we could to help on this matter because Ann Pollard’s place is in Israel, as is Jonathan Pollard’s.”

Forget the platitudes, guys. Get the man home now.


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