2016-12-07 / Editorial

World Jewry must help Israel rebuild after devastating fires

Many of the wildfires that forced tens of thousands of Israelis to escape their homes were deliberately set and very likely acts of terrorism.

They are being labeled under a new category: Pyro-terrorism. Several dozen Palestinians have already been arrested in connection to the blazes, which forced some 100,000 residents to flee and destroyed hundreds of homes from Haifa to Jerusalem to southern communities. Chillingly, social media likely prompted copycat fires. #Israelisburning became a viral campaign celebrated among those bent on Israel’s destruction — even as the blazes destroyed Arab and Jewish homes alike and scorched acres upon acres of forest.

If there has been any good to come of such tragedy, it has been the response from the international community. More than 300 foreign firefighters from 12 countries aided Israeli first responders. They included the United States, Russia, Egypt, Jordan, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey. The Palestinian Authority’s decision to send 40 first responders and eight fire trucks prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make an unusual call to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to express gratitude.

Now that the fires are under control, work is underway to assess the widespread destruction. This is where we come in. The Jewish Federations of North America’s Israel Emergency Fund has been earmarked to help residents with the challenges of rebuilding homes, schools and neighborhoods. The Jewish National Fund also opened an emergency fund, with donations intended for new firefighting equipment and reforestation. Meanwhile, the Israeli-American Council is collecting to support firefighters.

The fires have been called the worst in Israeli history. Jews around the world must respond as we have in the past to help Israel rebuild. 

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