Gilad Atzmon: The Burning Bush
Disaster in the North of Israel, at least 40 dead as fire rages across the Carmel Mountains. A mass evacuation has begun.
As I am writing these lines, Israeli Fire fighting crews are battling with the flames. They also express no hope of controlling the fire soon. "We lost all control of the fire," said the Haifa Fire fighting services spokesman. "There aren't enough fire fighting resources in Israel in order to put out the fire."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hurried to the scene of the fire on Thursday. He requested the help of the U.S, Greece, Italy, Russia, and Cyprus to send additional forces to aid the Israeli firemen. A normal country would probably ask for the help of its neighbours, but the Jewish state doesn’t have neighbours. It made all its neighbours into enemies.
But the story here goes far deeper. The fire in northern Israel is far from being a coincidence. Israel’s rural landscape is saturated with pine trees. These trees are totally new to the region. They were not there until the 1930’s. The pine trees were introduced to the Palestinians landscape in the early 1930s by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in an attempt to ‘reclaim the land’ . By 1935, JNF had planted 1.7 million trees over a total area of 1,750 acres. Over fifty years, the JNF planted over 260 million trees largely on confiscated Palestinian land. It did it all in a desperate attempt to hide the ruins of the ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages and their history.
Along the years the JNF performed a crude attempt to eliminate Palestinian civilisation and their past but it also tried to make Palestine look like Europe. The Palestinian natural forest was eradicated. Similarly the olive trees were uprooted. The pine trees took their place. On the southern part of mount Carmel the Israelis named an area as ‘Little Switzerland’. I have learned tonight that Little Switzerland is burned.
However, the facts on the ground were pretty devastating for the JNF. The pine tree didn’t adapt to the Israeli climate as much as the Israelis failed to adapt to the Middle East. According to JNF statistics, six out of every 10 saplings planted did not survive. Those few trees that did survive formed nothing but a firetrap. By the end of each Israeli summer each of the Israeli pine forests become a potential deadly zone.
In spite of its nuclear power, its criminal army, the occupation, the Mossad and its lobbies all over the world, Israel seems to be very vulnerable. It is devastatingly alienated from the land it claims to own. Like the pine tree, Israel and the Israeli are foreign to the region.