Learning from disaster
Sir, – The tragedy of the Carmel forest fire (“The battle
to save the burning North,” December 5) is not the loss of life, not the trees
that went up in flames, not the homes threatened, but the failure of authorities
to take the proper steps at the proper time.
Any bright high school
student could predict that after a long spell of hot, dry weather, the forests
would be kindling dry and even a carelessly thrown cigarette could lead to a
disaster. During such dry periods, a full blown alert should be declared – but
not, of course, by our leaders.
Philosopher George Santayana said years
ago: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We will be
condemned to repeat it if we fail to seriously shake-up those in responsible
posts, not only in regard to fire fighting, but future terrorist attacks and
future wars.MACABEE DEAN
Sir, – The magnitude of the Carmel
fire may have been beyond the capabilities of even adequate foresight, funding
and preparation. But in the days to come – in keeping with the Bible portion
about how Joseph, viceroy of Egypt, prepared the country for disaster – much
soulsearching will take place.
We seem to have learned little in 4,000
years. Constructive proposals are therefore in order. One proposal would be to
create a regional firefighting structure for the eastern Mediterranean. No one
country can afford the full cost of maintaining a permanent force, with all the
planes, equipment and supplies necessary to fully meet a disaster as serious as
the Carmel blaze. With the good assumption that such a disaster will not strike
more than one country at a time, resources could be pooled – one for all and all
Cyprus, for example, could be a likely site for a permanent
airborne firefighting force. A suitable name would be RAFID – Regional Airborne
Firefighting Deployment.ART BRAUNSTEIN
The writer is a retired
US foreign aid officer
Sir, – Will the Carmel inferno be any different from the
1997 Maccabiah Games catastrophe, where those in charge absolved themselves from
their responsibilities? I believe it should be an example to those in our
community who condone corner cutting, incompetence and a lack of
There is one certainty that will take place over this
tragedy, and that will be the blame game, where individuals will be made
scapegoats. A comprehensive inquiry should take into account one of the major
reasons this calamity occurred: It was an accumulation of years of complacency
and apathy through a lack of education by the political system that many of our
community have no pride or could not care less about their environment and
Sir, – Years and years ago, Israel was
offered the opportunity to purchase special firefighting aircraft from a
Canadian manufacturer. The geniuses running the country at the time decided they
did not need such aircraft. Since then, we have suffered countless forest fires,
the total costs of which have certainly exceeded what such aircraft might have
Nobody stopped to consider that firefighting airplanes might have
been designated defense equipment, particularly when history has shown us that
many forest fires have been deliberately set by our enemies. Now we have gone
begging to Europe to provide us with – guess what? – those very same aircraft!
In the meantime, people are dead, thousands of dunams of forest have been
destroyed, towns, kibbutzim and even Haifa were placed in peril.
anybody paying attention out there?
Sir, – For many years I
served as member of the Savyon local council. Savyon was at the time a member of
the Petah Tikva Firefighting Association, which included several other towns and
After a fire in Savyon completely destroyed a house before the
fire brigade could arrive, the chairman of the Savyon council tried to arrange
with the Interior Ministry that we join a fire station located much closer. All
efforts were flatly rejected.
The regional head of the ministry explained
that each firefighting association covered several local authorities, some of
which had severe financial difficulties, and in order to keep operating, the
association needed the right mix of local authorities so that even if some were
in chronic arrears, its operations could continue. Transferring Savyon, a
village able to pay its share on time, to another firefighting association might
seriously affect the delicate balance.
This is a wonderful system because
no one in government is responsible for the lack of services or their quality!
If a board of inquiry recognizes this problem and brings about a change, its
report will be worth its weight in gold.
Government has to be directly
responsible for critical public services.
This is not a problem that
requires reform of the firefighting services or its privatization.DAVID
Kiryat Ono Bleak... and incredible
Sir, – “The bleak logic of Bennie
Begin” (Editor’s Notes, December 3) was an outstanding interview.
Begin must be the most articulate person out there. It absolutely cheered me up
to know that there is someone who speaks the incredible truth.YONATAN
Beit Shemesh Music, maestro
Sir, – During many years of reading the Post,
I have often wondered why there is such meager coverage of classical music on
The almost whole-page display of someone’s warped sense of
pop in the December 2 Arts & Entertainment section (“Meet the most original
guitarist you never heard of”) is only one example of the tasteless articles
that appear frequently. Recently, you have seen fit to publish stories about a
“psychedelic indie band” from the US, a weird, glitzy country singer in Las
Vegas, and similar banal characters.
Israel is blessed with countless
great classical musicians who appear regularly in many different venues.
Renowned Israeli musicians are performing in cities all over the world.
Thousands of young people are studying music in the great academies here. Where
are the reviews of concerts by the world-class Israel Philharmonic, the
Jerusalem Symphony, the pianists, violinists, chamber music ensembles, choirs
and composers who contribute so magnificently to the musical life in our
country? Why does the Post so blatantly ignore this significant element in our
culture? Is it possible that there is no one on your staff who is capable of
writing knowledgeable articles about classical music events and the musicians
who provide them? I sincerely hope that you will reconsider your policy and
improve your coverage of classical music in Israel.ELLEN B. SUCOV
Jerusalem Teach ’em young
Sir, – The dire aquatic straits we are in were brought
home very poignantly one recent morning.
Late the previous night, a
helpful neighbor knocked on our door to inform us that he heard the sound of
running water in our garden. Upon checking, I found a major leak in our
irrigation system and was forced to turn off the water main to the
Our seven-year-old secondgrader, who had learned about the
critical water shortage our country is facing and had learned about the need for
water conservation, burst into our bedroom early in the morning in panic crying
out, “Abba, ima, it finally happened, the Kinneret has run dry!” Out of the
mouths of babes!