It was to be expected that many in the surrounding Arab nations would be pleased with the massive wildfire that is ravaging the Carmel Forest in northern Israel. And pleased they are.
In a survey of Arab media outlets, Jerusalem Post journalist Khaled Abu Toameh found that public perception in surrounding Muslim societies was that the fire was an act of judgment by Allah for Israel’s “stealing the land” from the Palestinian Arabs.
Readers of these media outlets urged Allah to continue and intensify this punishment, and encouraged Iran, Hizballah and Hamas to take advantage of the situation and attack Israel now.
“Thank Allah for this new Holocaust,” read one comment. “Thank God for burning the Jews the same way they burned our Muslim brothers in Palestine [sic].”
Another addressed “Hizbullah, Hamas and all Arabs: This is a golden opportunity to get rid of Israel. The sea and fire are in front of the Jews and weapons are behind them.”
Yet another praised Allah for the fire before calling on “our Palestinian brothers to set fire to all forests” in Israel.
Commenters on the popular Arabic web forum Muslm.net (that is not a typo) were equally vicious. Several users posted pirated photographs of Israelis burned to death in the fire, along with captions reading “Allah is Great!” and hailing the disastrous wildfire as a divine gift.
So, how did the Palestinians themselves respond?
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad phoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to offer his personal condolences. Fayyad also sent several Palestinian firefighting brigades to help battle the fire.
But some in the Palestinian media were far less sympathetic.
“We have to tell you how happy our Palestinian people are at the killing 40 Zionist wardens burned to death,” read an editorial in Palestine Today referring to the 40 Israeli prison guards who were burned to death while trying to reach a prison that was under threat from the flames.
The Palestinian editorial continued: “Many lessons will be learned from this ‘divine fire’, and the lesson that is most prominent is that the demise of this [Zionist] entity is just a matter of time.”