Dear Friend of FLAME:
By now you are aware of the terrible tragedy that occurred in Israel only a couple of weeks ago. A fire raged through the northern Carmel region, destroying 10,000 acres of forest, forcing 17,000 people to evacuate the area, and sadly, killing more than 40 people.
This has been a truly dismal year for Israel on the world stage, with the Gaza flotilla incident, an increase in the worldwide BSD (boycotts, sanctions and divestment) movement, and the highest levels of vitriol directed against Israel and Jews in years. In this light, the response to the firestorm by countries such as Turkey, Egypt, and Jordan were a welcome surprise in an otherwise nightmarish scenario. Even the Palestinian Authority managed to send firefighters to aid Israel in her fight to extinguish the fire.
However, much of the rest of the Arab world responded to the tragedy with chilling hatefulness, as recounted in this week's Hotline by the superb Israeli-Palestinian Jerusalem Post journalist, Khaled Abu Toameh. Not only were the Egyptian and Jordanian governments, as well as the P.A., lambasted for daring to help Israel, comments on the websites of Arab media outlets were even worse.
From expressing joy for the Carmel fire to praising God for the death and destruction wrought by the fire, the online response shows us that not much, if anything has changed since Israel's war of independence in 1948. Toameh writes that Arab comments "serve as a reminder that many people in the Arab and Islamic countries still have not come to terms with Israel's right to exist. . . Even worse, many of the talkbacks show that many Arabs and Muslims would welcome another Holocaust."
In several of our FLAME Hotlines this year, we have discussed the impact that Palestinian and Arab incitement have on the "peace process." Simply put: How can we ever expect a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians as long as venomous anti-Semitism persists? And how can we expect peace when the media continue to ignore the very problem that is the primary reason peace cannot happen?
This isn't a liberal or conservative issue, and we don't need Middle East pundits to help us understand why another year has gone by without peace. The catastrophe in Carmel is the latest window into how many Arabs and Muslims view Israel and Jews---a country and a people not destined to survive much longer. Yet it is inconceivable that Israelis or Jews would react similarly were a comparable event to take place in an Arab country. Until Arabs and Muslims accept Israel and Jews as legitimate (which looks less and less likely), we can expect a similar hateful reaction the next time tragedy strikes Israel or Jews across the world.
Please, as this year comes to a close, let us renew our prayers that Israel will soon experience shalom---peace in the Holy Land. Never forget that Israel needs our continued support, and as always, we hope you'll pass this FLAME Hotline along to friends and colleagues.
FLAME Hotline Contributor
It's absolutely critical that we win the public relations battle when it comes to Israel, no matter how difficult. For more information on the trials that Israel faces, please read FLAME's position paper, "The Unrelenting and Virulent Hatred of the Arabs: Will peace ever be possible under those conditions?" We have recently published this piece in magazines and newspapers with more than 5 million in circulation and have sent it to every member of congress. If you agree that this kind of public relations effort on Israel's behalf is critical, I urge you to support us. Remember: FLAME's powerful ability to influence public opinion comes from individuals like you, one by one. I hope you'll consider giving a donation now, as you're able---with $500, $250, $100, or even $18. (Remember, your donation to FLAME is tax deductible---and remember, too, that the year end is an ideal time to make a tax-deductible donation.) To donate online, just go to http://www.factsandlogic.org/make_a_donation.html. Now more than ever we need your support to ensure that Israel gets the support it needs---from the U.S. Congress, from President Obama, and from the American people.
The Palestinians: What Is Really Destroying the Chance for Peace
by Khaled Abu Toameh, Hudson New York, December 7, 2010
It is sad and abhorrent to see how many Arabs have rejoiced over the big forest fire in Northern Israel, calling it a "divine punishment" for Israelis and wishing that the blaze would spread to destroy all Jews.
The messages of hate are the result of decades of incitement against Israel and Jews in the Arab media and mosques throughout the Arab and Islamic world.
The comments serve as a reminder that many people in the Arab and Islamic countries still have not come to terms with Israel's right to exist in this part of the world. Even worse, many of the talkbacks show that many Arabs and Muslims would welcome another Holocaust.
These reactions were posted on Web sites of major Arab media outlets, such as the popular Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya TV networks, and the Saudi-owned Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.
What is troubling is that these repugnant comments appeared on Web sites that are not necessarily associated with radical Islam.
Al-Arabiya and Asharq Al-Awsat are owned by members of the Saudi royal family, which, ironically, has been frequently targeted by Muslim fundamentalist groups like Al-Qaeda.
The overwhelming majority of talkbacks that appeared on the Web sites of these three powerful media organizations in the past few days showed how many Arabs and Muslim continue to dream about the destruction of Israel.
True, some readers and viewers did not join in the "celebration" of the fire that killed more than 40 people and destroyed hundreds of thousands of trees. Some even expressed sympathy with Israel, and some even criticized Arabs and Muslims who rejoiced over the fire.
But these "positive" comments reflected the opinion of a tiny minority. For example, out of 123 comments posted on one of the Web sites, less than 15 seemed to be rational.
The hateful postings did not only come from Arab and Islamic countries and the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories, but also from Arabs living in North America, Australia, Sweden and Europe.
Ahmed Abdallah from Australia wrote the following comment on Al-Jazeera's Web site: "O' God, how generous you are! Bring happiness to the heart of every Palestinian mother who lost her son or whose son is in prison."
Writing from Berlin, Germany, a reader who identified himself as Sarrawi commented: "Thank God and 1,000 congratulations [for the death of 42 Israelis]. O' God, give us more!"
From the UK, Zuheir Dabbagh wrote: "Thank God, we bring the good news to the Muslims that the land has gotten rid of 40 criminals."
Arabs who agreed to help Israel put out the fire also came under attack. The Palestinian Authority leadership and the Egyptian and Jordanian governments were strongly denounced as "traitors" for sending firefighters to Israel.
What is also worrying about the thousands of comments is that many Arabs and Muslims see Israel's appeal for international assistance in putting out the fire as a sign of weakness.
Many of those who expressed joy over the fire urged Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas to seize the "golden opportunity" and try to eliminate Israel for once and for all. Others wrote that if Israel cannot handle a fire, there is no reason to believe that it could win in any war.
There is good reason to believe that the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish attitudes expressed in these comments reflect the views of many Arabs and Muslims. With attitudes like these, it is hard to see how real peace can be achieved in the Middle East in the near future. Unless this incitement stops, the prospects of moving forward with the "peace process" between Israelis and Arabs are as bleak as ever.