Saturday, December 04, 2010

COMMENT: Why isn't this man donating to Israel's bushfire effort?

Lots of countries are helping Israel out with its current bushfire predicament. Among them are Bulgaria, Greece and Spain. Also helping are Muslim-majority states such as Azerbaijan. According to the News AZ website:

The Azerbaijani Ministry for Emergencies sent today two helicopters of the aviation group to join the international crews helping Israel in the battle a huge forest fire.

MES’ two helicopters – "Ka-32A" and "Mi-17-1b" left for Israel from Baku International Airport.

Chief of the Aviation group of MES, Colonel Ashraf Gasimov reported to the journalists that according to Israeli government’s appeal, the Azerbaijani government would take part in fire extinguishing.

Also helping is Turkey. Remember that Israeli troops recently stormed a Turkish flotilla and killed Turkish citizens on board. Still, Turkey heeded the call of its old ally. Zaman reported on 4 December:

Turkey has put aside tensions in diplomatic relations with Israel, and under orders by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan, has rushed to send fire fighting aircraft to assist in the battle against Israel’s biggest-ever fire that has already killed around 40 people.

The man some of Israel's most hawkish friends dub as a dangerous Islamist managed to earn thanks from Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu. According to Ynet News reporting on 3 December:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, along with other world leaders for sending planes and firefighting equipment to Israel in order to assist the battle against the blaze consuming its northern region.

Netanyahu added that he spoke with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan who "expressed his and his country's condolences to the families of the 41 casualties and Turkey's willingness to help."

"I told Erdogan that we appreciate the major efforts during this time and I am sure that this will be a gateway to improving relations between the two countries", the prime minister said noted.

But there's one American journalist who refuses to help. Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent for The Atlantic, has written a scathing attack on what he sees as the negligence of Israeli authorities in not doing more to protect their citizens from the elements.

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 ...

It's a compelling argument. Israel isn't accustomed to fighting fires on this scale. Indeed, it's more accustomed to starting fires in other people's backyards. Still, right now Israel needs help needs help. Just as it needs help with convincing itself not to set off the kinds of fires that kill children. Fires like the one shown below.

Or is it in poor taste to mention these children at this time?

Words © 2010 Irfan Yusuf

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