Monday, December 06, 2010

Stop freaking out ...

Sorry about the light blogging, my real life has been very busy lately. I just felt that I had to write something about the Carmel Forest Fire that broke out recently here in Israel.

Perhaps it's because I grew up in southern California, but this fire didn't make me freak out like everyone else in this country. Please understand, I was just as shocked by the death toll from the bus incident as everyone else. It was horrifying and tragic. But it was horrifying and tragic in the same way as a plane crash or any other disaster.

However, I don't think it was indicative of this particular incident. Had that bus left five minutes earlier, or five minutes later, the tragedy might never have happened. That is significant.

The Israeli press, especially Haaretz, has been running full steam ahead with ridiculous and sensationalist headlines about how woefully unprepared Israel was, and how this means Israel can't handle war, or that this means if we're attacked by Iran it will mean our 'national collapse." Just look at these headlines from Haaretz:

And since a picture is worth a thousand words I'll throw this in for good measure, also from Haaretz. Check out the "More On This Topic":

Really? REALLY? One bad fire means all this. If there is a lesson to be learned from this it's that maybe Israel is TOO prepared for war, and not prepared enough for a fire.

Well considering that in Israel's history there has been ONE really bad fire and almost ten wars or major armed conflicts that kinda makes sense doesn't it?

Ok, here's another picture. This one is of a forest fire and it was taken by me.

That's not the Carmel and that picture wasn't taken in Israel. That is the San Fernando Valley where I lived for most of my life. I took this picture about four years ago during one of the countless fires I've seen with my own eyes from my parents house. It seems like at least every two to three years another massive cloud of smoke would appear over the horizon.

This happens all the time. It's a wonder that it doesn't happen more often in Israel considering how similar the climates are. But no one ever freaked out when a fire broke out. No one moaned that it signaled the imminent collapse of California or the U.S.

I simply don't believe there was anything unique about this incident. Bad things happen, and they will continue to happen. That's life and it sucks.

There are lessons to be learned from this incident. But Israel needs to learn the right lessons. Alarmist and panicked coverage from the media won't help. Angry calls for politicians' resignations won't help. Calling for more fire fighters and fire fighting aircraft won't ... wait that actually is a good idea.

My point is this. On the same day the fire broke out, the Prime Minister concluded that Israel's fire-fightinig services were insufficient for the job. He asked for help, and several generous countries came forward and helped us out. The fire was extinguished approximately 80 hours later. This is not the end of the world. Crying that it is doesn't help anyone.

So please, stop freaking out!!! That means you Haaretz.

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