December 3, 2010 Fire Ravages Carmel Range - Implications for the Future

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

December 3, 2010 Fire Ravages Carmel Range - Implications for the Future

It's been a sad two days in Israel. The sadness has been multi-layered. The first level is, of course human; the loss of at least 42 young lives, with at least two more presumed dead is a tremendous tragedy in and of itself. The second level of tragedy is seeing the Israeli government so incapable of handling the problem. While Prime Minister Netanyahu has referred to the tragedy as "a natural disaster of International proportions", it is not a very large forest fire by American standards. Still, the fact remains that Israel is not equipped to deal with it.

Sadly, this is not a surprise. For twenty years there have been reports and investigations calling on Israel to invest in a better-equipped and larger fire departments. Unfortunately, only a tragedy of this magnitude results in a changes taking place. The obvious question being asked now is, how can it be that outgoing Chief of Intelligence stated that in the next war the population centers will be the front line, and the very fire department that will have to fight part of that war is so underfunded and poorly organized.

Many countries have sent Israel help. While this has been an embarrassment on one hand, that Israel needed the help, on the other hand, as one Israeli TV commentator said today, it seems people care about us more then we think. Even the Turks sent aid.

Prime Minister Netanyahu wrote a timely note, while on a helicopter watching the Greek planes try to put out the fire. He wrote what an irony that on the second day of Chanukah, Greek pilots are flying to put out a fire in Israel.

I cannot help but comment on a series of e-mail appeals I received today from different organization asking for support because of the fire. First, they appear way too early. Some even seem unnecessary-- one of the appeals talked about opening camps to house those who have been displaced. I have been watching Israeli TV for the last 24 hours and while 17.000 people have evacuated their homes, all have gone to stay with friends and family. This is not like the Lebanon war, or the fire from Gaza. This is bad, but it will end within a couple of days or sooner, long before money will get to Israel.

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