The police has yet to declare a single wildfire an act of terrorism, the commissioner says arson is a self-fulfilling prophecy, and many cases of suspected terrorism turned out to be nothing more than negligence. This, of course, does not bother Israel’s leaders or media.
Now that the rain has started pouring, bringing an end to the wildfire season, it is imperative that we stop and look back at just what happened last week — before everything is forgotten. Or worse: before everything that happened is remembered as a story of terrorist attacks by Arab citizens against Jews.
Only a week ago did Israel’s biggest media outlets publish headlines such as “The arson intifada” (Ynet), “A wave of arsons” (Yedioth Ahronoth), and “Dozens of fire attacks” (Makor Rishon). Ministers competed over who could most harshly condemn the supposed arsonists and with proposed laws, including the usual calls for demolishing homes and revoking citizenship. Social media was full of calls for revenge, which were then given full backing by MK Oren Hazan (Likud), when he stood before the Knesset Wednesday, lit a lighter and said [Hebrew]: “It is time that we give them what they deserve… an eye for an eye is not something far from reality.”
Last Friday the police made a relatively unusual political announcement, calling on the Arab leadership to work and put an end to the arsons. This, after Joint List MKs and mayors of Arab towns and cities made clear that there is no place for sweeping accusations against Arabs until the fires were proven to be the result of arson. Arab leaders, suffice it to say, issued condemnations ahead of time. Even the Palestinian Authority sent eight fire trucks to help put out the flames.
Just a few days ago opposition leader Isaac Herzog began attacking the government [Hebrew] for being ill-prepared to deal with arson attacks. This is how a story becomes the truth.
‘We told them how simple it was’
But what do we actually know about this wave of wildfires? We know that there were 1773 different fires according to the Israel Fire and Rescue Services. The police were called to 90 of these “events,” 40 of which were investigated for a number of crimes (including negligence, as well as arson and attempted arson). The Israel Tax Authority announced that nine of the fires will be counted as nationalistically-motived arsons, yet the police and the Fire and...Read More