I have been asked to post a link to Act for Israel, where those interested in donating to assist Israel in its response to the human cost of the ongoing Carmel fire, with 41 dead so far, can do so. The direct link for donating is here.
Most immediately, various nations, including Turkey, surprisingly and happily, very quickly, and the U.S. have begun lending specialized aerial firefighting equipment that Israel lacks. This is quite appropriate, as lives and property are still in danger. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that there is no shame in asking for help, and of course he’s right.
Questions have been raised, though, about Israel’s firefighting preparedness and the appropriateness, i.e. the necessity, of donating charitably toward the non-firefighting needs. Here is Jeffrey Goldberg.
Inevitably, the Jewish National Fund, which, among other things, plants forests in Israel, is asking for donations from Americans for its “Forest Fire Emergency Campaign,” in response to the massive fire spreading across the Carmel mountains. But I’m not giving.
Israel’s per capita GDP is nearly $30,000. Israel is a rich country. The fact that it doesn’t possess adequate firefighting equipment is its own fault. The fact that the leadership of its fire service is incompetent is its own fault (you can read more about that here). At some point, the good-hearted Diaspora Jews who still think of Israel as a charity case are going to have to tell their cousins to learn to fully-fund basic services like firefighting if they want to be thought of as citizens of an advanced country.
There are a great many good causes in Israel that deserve help, and a great many causes here in America that deserve our help. It seems to me, however, that Israel’s national fire service should be funded by Israel’s government, not by the people of Boca Raton, Potomac and the Upper West Side.
My sympathy is with the people who lost their lives, their families, and those still in danger. It is not with a government that appears to be negligent. And I’m not going to contribute funds that might serve to paper-over the government’s inadequacies.
I would say the cat is out of the bag on the subject of Israeli government disaster – not just firefighting – preparedness, and donating to help is not going to paper it over. Goldberg raises a fine question, though, about the need. Israel’s economic health and vibrancy has been one of its big stories in recent years. But there remains, for those who care about Israel, that question of its disaster preparedness, particularly given the threats it faces.
Israel has a population of about 7.5 million people. It has just over 1500 firefighters.
New York City, with a population of 8.2 million, has over 11,000 firefighters.
Los Angeles City, with a population of 3.8 million, half that of Israel, has a firefighting force of 3600, nearly double that of Israel.
Various quarters have already begun to reflect on the unexpected ramifications of what has been revealed by the fire. This if from one of Goldberg’s readers, Dennis Rosen.
Watching how quickly the blaze on the Carmel overwhelmed the Israeli civil defense services, one can’t help but realize just how limited the options of Israel, and the United States, are in regards to Iran. Yes, the nuclear sites can be bombed, but Israel is simply unprepared to deal with the missile barrage which would follow and lead to enormous devastation that would be compounded by the lack of infrastructure able to contain it. Who would have thought that a forest fire would have such strategic implications?
Something is not right.
- Facebook Group Created to Provide Emergency Information on Israel Fire Disaster (prweb.com)
- “ISRAEL: As fires ravage the Carmel, there are helping hands — and some finger-pointing” and related posts (latimesblogs.latimes.com)
- Frustration at Israeli government as Carmel forest burns (thejc.com)
- Israel struggles to contain fire (bbc.co.uk)
- Nearby nations help Israel battle raging forest fire (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Israel gripped by growing anger as firefighters struggle to contain blaze (telegraph.co.uk)
- Israel Gets Firefighting Aid From Abroad to Help Quell Deadly Haifa Blaze – Bloomberg (news.google.com)
- UN chief in letter to PM: UN to help Israel in any way against forest fire … – Ha’aretz (news.google.com)
- Netanyahu thanks Turkey’s Erdogan for sending fire-fighting aid – Ha’aretz (news.google.com)