If we thought that the Carmel blaze disaster exhausted all the possibilities to disgrace ourselves, we again proved to ourselves and to our neighbors that we can always get a little more mileage out of such events, and that around here there really is no such things as “exhausting all disgraceful possibilities.”
Firefighters from the Palestinian Authority who worked here to combat the blaze along with other foreign teams were invited to attend a ceremony in their honor organized by a northern Israel town. However, some of the firemen were not granted entry permits to Israel, so the entire delegation stayed in the Palestinian Authority and the ceremony in its honor was called off.
Israel’s government coordinator in the territories later explained that the incident was the result of a technical mistake in the process of coordinating the permits with the Palestinian side.
As we tend to do, the explanation came too late, contributed nothing, and mostly did not take away anything from the sense of insult and disappointment felt by the people who deserved our gratitude.
Even if it was indeed a mistake, it reflected indifference, clumsiness, and the conduct of a bull (and a stupid one at that) in the china shop of global public opinion.
Friendly and humane Knesset Member Michal Ben-Ari responded to the incident by saying that “we can invite them to the ceremony when they bring Gilad Shalit home.” What is truly regrettable about his comment is that his disturbing words reflect a patronizing official attitude.
Even after they volunteered and rushed here, putting their lives in danger in order to help us save lives, in our view they are first and foremost Arabs from the territories; or as we like to refer to them politely, illegal aliens.
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