Israel's Humiliating Request for Fire Trucks

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Goldblog has gotten quite a bit of pushback since asserting a few days ago that it is inappropriate for Israel, a state whose annual per capita GDP is close to $30,000, to go to schnorring for fire trucks and other basic public safety equipment. I wrote, "The fact that it doesn't possess adequate firefighting equipment is its own fault. The fact that the leadership of its fire service is incompetent is its own fault."

I wrote this before I saw this pathetic brochure from the Jewish National Fund, which asks donors from overseas to contribute money to pay for:

• 24 thermal cameras ($7,500 each) - $180,000
• 50 nozzles ($680 each) - $34,000
• 100 forcible entry tools ($7,500 each) - $750,000
• 1,500 helmets ($500 each) - $750,000
• 50 hoses ($120 each) - $6,000
• 1,500 air tanks ($1,000 each) - $1.5 million
• 1,500 masks ($3,700 each) - $5.5 million
• 1,500 sets of fire protective gear ($2,000 each) - $3 million

The same brochure asks for money to buy actual fire trucks, as well.

Goodness. What a terrible state of affairs. Could you imagine, after a major forest fire in California, the United States government, and private American aid groups, asking for donations from Latin America and Europe in order to pay for protective gear for firefighters?  How humiliating would that be? What sort of country -- what sort of wealthy country -- schnorrs for basic public safety equipment?  At some point, Israel is going to have to learn to stand on its own, and fund its national security and public safety needs without the help of Diaspora Jewry. It is one thing to ask for charitable donations for social services, educational institutions and hospitals (and for relief money for people displaced in, say, a forest fire -- I've already given to that fund, through UJA-Federation of New York). But it's quite another for Israel to co-opt Diaspora Jewry into a cover-up, which is what this is: Israeli leaders are guilty, at the very least, of profound neglect:

Israel, a country of 7.6 million, has only 1,400 firefighters - or 16 for every 100,000 residents. Although a direct comparison is impossible because Israel is so sparsely forested, that number compares unfavorably to other developed nations, such as the U.S., Japan and Greece, which have between five and seven times as many firefighters per capita.

Commentators were quick to draw broader conclusions. Aluf Benn, a columnist for the Haaretz daily, said Israel's inability to control the flames proved it was not ready for a massive attack by Iran.

Maariv columnist Ben Caspit noted that Israel, a country that carries out daring military operations and is a high-tech leader, is also a nation "whose fire trucks date back to the previous century, and a country that therefore finds itself caught, standing before the flames, with its pants down."

It is obviously a sensitive issue, the idea that American Jews, and other Diaspora Jews, should not pay for basic infrastructure and safety equipment of a country with exports of roughly 60 billion dollars annually -- both for American Jewry's sake, and for Israel's. How do I know this is so sensitive? Well, the extraordinary amount of hate mail I have received after first writing about this is one suggestion. I usually only get this much hate mail after Pamela Geller or Glenn Greenwald write something about me. Just for fun -- and to show you, as if sane people need proof, that there are crazy people in the world -- here are some of the wackadoo e-mails I received, after the jump:


Here's one that actually makes no sense:

You Leftist American Jews are so grotesque.  You'd eat your own for your Leftist religion.  I hate being in the same country as you vile powerful aggressive controlling 2% Bolsheviks.

And this:

Dear Jeffy,
 
I have met alot of pathetic people like you in my travels around the world, but I have to say you take the proverbial cake. I don't give a shit WHAT the Israeli government HAS or HASN'T done, we're talking about people's LIVES during this wildfire crisis and what the government has done certainly can't be any worse than what the muslim Obama administration has attempted to do to America, but I would venture you still support that terrorist. Someday, MAYBE, under ObamaCare, you can have the gender-reassignment you so richly deserve. Maybe THEN, you'll come to grips with the fact of what a little man you truly are.
 
With NO respect,
 
Robert Dean
United States Marine Corps (Ret)
A Patriot & Friend of the People of Israel.

This one achieves a kind of eloquence, I think:


your 15 minutes are over douchbag                        
i am irish catholic and grew up as the only gentile in my hood.

you can go fuck yourself

you disgust me , you asshole

The islamists are the enemy...and you

god has a certain place in hell for people like you

This is from someone who apparently believes that Shit-for-Brains is an honorific:


Dear Shit-for-Brains:

I read your piece (courtesy of the Israel Matzav blog) about not sending money to help Israel though the terrible tragedy of the Carmel fire.

First of all, Fuckface, don't ever presume to tell me how or where to spend my money.

Second, Asshole, go fuck yourself.

Third, in case I failed to mention it, go fuck yourself.

Finally, go fuck yourself with the other Jew-haters who look for new ways to punish Israel.

This from someone who thinks I"m as bad as -- horrors -- Michael Bloomberg (This would be same Michael Bloomberg who arranged for a massive airlift of fire retardant to Israel:


Mr. Goldberg,
 
I am a Jew. A woman. A writer. And not only are you a creep and a self-hating Jew, but your soul sucks and your writing is boring.
So you would have Israelis die just to make a stupid point?
 
Look for what I say about you on my blog....it will be forthcoming..You are not the only one who can write.
Too bad the Jewish religion doesn't have ex-communication. I'd fight to get you and Bloomberg out of Judaism.
 
Farshtukiner...

And one more, from Steven Schloss, the "Project/Advertising Manager" in the Office of Communications and Public Affairs at Yeshiva University. He's very good at communicating sophisticated thoughts:

You are one sick individual to discourage giving to any country in the midst of a disaster.

When I give, I will do it in your honor.

UPDATE: And there's this one from someone apparently named Dan Morgenstern, who, like many of my correspondents on this issue, is Jewish, and yet doesn't think very much of Jews:

What a mean-spirited response! By your logic, no one should have come to the aid of Katrina victims because of the US Government's incompetence. Even Palestinians have responded to this catastrophe, which not so incidentally is the first occasion in years for a showing of international sympathy for  Israel (which of course gets little media credit for its rapid and effective disaster help to other countries, such as, most recently, Haiti. But leave it to a Jew to find such a poor excuse to bash Israel, and on a holiday at that! Congratulations!

Should I be surprised that, even though I wrote that I have already donated money to a UJA-Federation fund for the fire victims, many of these correspondents accuse me of arguing against giving money to the fire victims? Is this is a literacy problem?  Or something else?
 

Presented by

Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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