Last month Israel had the worst natural fires in recorded history, 43 people died and a natural resort in the north of the country was destroyed. The main reason for this fire was the fact that there was no significant rain in the region for a long time and winter did not show any signs of arriving (it actually did rain last weekend), the trees and weeds were very dry and fires could spark at any moment. Add to this the strong eastern winds blowing from the direction of Israel’s north-east nighbour Syria and there was little to stop a small local fire from spreading in amazing speed.
Most of the people who died in this event were on a bus, this bus was on its way to transport prisoners from a nearby prison to a safer place, the fire spread very quickly and engulfed the bus by surprise, only a few managed to escape. The chief rabbi of Israel claimed, three days later, that the people who were killed had it coming because they did not follow the Shabat. This was not a suggestion but a very clear statement made by someone who is extremely knowledgeable in the rules and regulations of the Jewish faith, and he did not understand why his words sparked such a heated debate in Israeli society, neither did (or does) his followers.
The one person who was publicly in agreement with the rabbi was Ismail Haniya, the chief Hamas movement leader out of Gaza claimed, very much like the rabbi, that this fire was a punishment from god, and that it comes as a direct response to the actions of Israelis (by the way he did not specify if it was the fault of those who were killed, probably blaming all of the Israelis in this). So, t least on this issue these two people see eye to eye.
It would not have been so terribly disgusting if you would not have known that the Jewish state could have prevented this fires from spreading this fast by just purchasing the proper material needed for large scale fires, this country who prides itself on having one of the most advanced armies in the world with what is considered to be a top quality air force could not fight the fires because it has not invested in 2-3 fire fighting airplanes.
Israel’s security needs are clear, and anyone who thinks Israel could cut on its defense budget might be day dreaming, but the thing is that it could easily afford more fire fighting planes just by cutting some of its funds that are going into religion and the religious. Israel sponsors young religious men who do not need to enlist as soldiers (yes, that’s right, young Israeli healthy men who do not join their brothers in defense of the country) but learn Tora in synagogues, they are fully sponsored by the state, as well as whole families of those who decide to live as a “Talmid Hacham”, and learn Tora, we are talking about many thousands of people here – living on the tax payers money. On top of that the freedom of religious practice in Israel dictates it should also support Islamic and Christian establishments, meaning that even more goes into religion – and not stupid things such as proper fire fighting equipment.
So in a way the rabbi of Israel, who is also the spiritual leader of one of the biggest political parties in the country who is draining the budget in order to financially support its voters, is actually much more the cause of the lack of fire fighting equipment than god. If he and his followers would have insisted that life comes first there would be enough budget to provide better security for the people of Israel, but its just easier to scare and threaten people with the ridiculous notion that god had decided to burn them alive as a punishment for not keeping the Shabat.