Postcard from Israel – Mount Carmel

December 2nd will mark two years since the Mount Carmel forest fire disaster in which 44 people died, including members of the Israeli Prison Service, a bus driver, members of the Israeli Police Force and fire-fighters. 

Two years on, the 35,000 dunams of forest and natural woodland consumed by the fire still bears the scars, but signs of new life are also abundant. Beit Oren and other communities severely damaged by the fire are being rebuilt and a monument to those who lost their lives – designed by Natanel Ben Yitzhak – has been constructed near the site of the disaster. 

What the Guardian won’t report: Official Palestinian newspaper accuses Israel of seeking the destruction of humanity

Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, of Palestinian Media Watch, highlighted an article which appeared in an official Palestinian Authority newspaper which described Israel this way:

Israel is a country -

“whose aim is destruction and ruin of humanity”
“which disseminates destruction, ruin and weapons in the world”
“which acts to kill nations, to threaten them and to occupy their land”
“which acts to disseminate the culture of hatred & racism among humans”

The article also denied the legitimacy of Israel’s existence when it labeled the Israeli Carmel Mountains “the occupied Palestinian Carmel Mountains.”

Oh yeah, and this article appeared in the sports section of the official PA daily!

So, what we have here is: Hatred? Racism? Intransigence? An impediment to peace?

Banish such thoughts!

It obviously must have something to do with the “settlements.”

Guardian coverage of Carmel forest fire (a comparison)

A H/T for this post goes to Israelinurse

Considering that Israel hosts the highest density of foreign correspondents per capita in the world, which results in a magnified media spotlight upon events which take place throughout the country, not least upon the pages of the Guardian, one may have anticipated somewhat more thorough coverage of the disastrous Carmel fire.

To date, CiF’s Israel page has hosted three articles (two of which were AP dispatches) and one photograph gallery of the event.

Harriet Sherwood ignored the fire altogether (while it was still raging), but still managed to file a report on Israeli racism in Safed (Tsfat) while the blaze was still engulfing Northern Israel, and found the time to write two stories on shark attacks (yes, shark attacks) in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

However, it seems that Sherwood has returned to Israel, filing a report today that ostensibly was about the aftermath of the deadly fire, but, as she seems simply unable to cast Israelis in a sympathetic light, still managed to take two swipes at the Jewish state – both at the expense of the Orthodox community, who the Guardian so loves to vilify.

By way of comparison, during the terrible bushfires in Victoria, Australia in February 2009 in which 173 people died, 414 were injured and 7,562 displaced from their homes, CiF published 27 articles on the subject in the first four days of the event.

Taking into account that Australia’s population is more than three times larger than that of Israel, the 41 dead and 17,000 displaced persons in the Mount Carmel fire make current events in Israel a national disaster on a comparable scale.

Absent from the current CiF coverage of the event is any aspect of the individual stories of those Israelis affected by the fire, in contrast to the kind of articles run during the Australian disaster. Also not covered is any reporting on the damage to the environment and wildlife, again in contrast to the reporting of the similar event in Victoria.

Could it be that the Guardian editors are reluctant to run stories about events which do not fit in with the usual theme of ‘Israelis behaving badly’? (See Akus’s piece, back in early June, on the Guardian’s obsessive coverage of the flotilla incident for another example of this bias)

Here’s the visual of the Guardian’s coverage of the Australian fires, which is followed by a visual their coverage of the Carmel fire.

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Harriet Sherwood has left the building

Apparently, Harriet Sherwood is not in Israel at present and therefore has not been reporting on the forest fire still raging on Mount Carmel which has already claimed 41 lives (and destroyed 50,000 dunams of land). Instead, the Guardian has so far covered the event with two articles; one which can only be described as an inaccurate round up of articles from other sources, obviously rather swiftly knocked up by Haroon Siddique, and the other taken from  Associated Press. (They also have one stand-alone photo posted.)

Despite the current traumatic events, defined here as a ‘national disaster’, the Guardian saw fit to publish Harriet Sherwood’s report from Safed (or Tsfat, as it is known in Israel) in which she continues with her already documented one-sided portrayal of Israelis and her insinuations regarding Israel as a racist society.

(Just how it is possible to print an article stated to be from a correspondent in a certain place on a certain day and then later claim that the said correspondent is not in the country is in itself something of a conundrum.)

In fact, the key to understanding reality of recent regrettable events in Tsfat is buried in the final paragraph of Sherwood’s report in which her interviewee states:

“Most residents of Safed are a mixture of religious and secular and are tolerant and open,” he said. “It’s just here in the old city, where the extremists live, that I am in a minority.”

That statement however contradicts the impression which Sherwood has strived to create in the rest of her article; an impression of religious Jewish extremists engaging in unchecked racist aggression against Arabs living in the town. Sherwood of course totally neglects to mention the steps taken by the town’s mayor, police force and the judiciary system to contain the actions of the extremist few.

Rather than explain to her readers that the actions of the few in Tsfat do not represent the opinions or the behaviour of the majority either in that town specifically or in the country as a whole, Sherwood further stokes the fires of racist insinuation by stating that Israel’s Foreign Minister advocates “compulsory transfer” – a term with very unfortunate connotations and one which does not accurately represent Avigdor Lieberman’s proposed ‘Populated Area Exchange Plan’, with which one can either agree or disagree, but which was proposed as part of an agreement with the Palestinian Authority and which would be dependent upon the latter’s agreement and therefore can hardly be described as  “compulsory”. For good measure, Sherwood also throws in the line that “[t]he government wants non-Jewish citizens to pledge loyalty to the Jewish state”, despite the fact that no such law has so far been passed by the Knesset.

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Carmel fire approaches Haifa: Fire shows no sign of dying down

On Friday evening Israeli news outlets were reporting that the Carmel fire was spreading from the direction of Haifa University towards the neighborhood of Denya in the city. Over 8,600 acres have already been scorched. Authorities were saying that it could take a week before they are able to completely extinguish the blaze, Channel 10 reported. Winds showed no sign of dying down overnight.

Those wishing to contribute to Carmel Fire Relief Fund can click on the image to the left, which will take you to the donation page of the site, Act for Israel.

How Harriet Sherwood reported on the Fire in Israel

A Guest Post by AKUS

The worst fire in Israel’s history has been burning out of control on the Carmel Mountain near Haifa since Thursday morning. So how has the Guardian’s reporter in Israel, Harriet “ChickenLady ” Sherwood, choose to cover it? The same way she covers Palestinian terrorism – I see nothing, I hear nothing, I say nothing.

The Guardian had to rely on Haroon Siddique reporting from London. (Still the Guardian’s only report on the catastrophic fire which has raged for 0ver 36 hours.)

No doubt the ChickenLady was too busy writing about the sufferings of the Palestinians – who are still suffering from a shortage of construction materials to build yet more upscale restaurants, hotels, and single-sex water parks.

This woman is a disgrace and if the Guardian had any beitzim they would yank her out of Israel.