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Canadian Talya Pardo explains what horrified her almost more than the wave of arson attacks in Israel last week: the publicly displayed praise that was awarded to the Palestinian Authority for sending aid to Israel while completing ignoring the fact that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as well as other Palestinian leaders and officials have incited hatred, racism and terror attacks against Israelis.

Damage from one of the fires

Damage from one of the fires Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

Last week was marred by scary, out of control fires in Israel. They were terrible, disastrous fires, some caused by dry weather conditions, but as we learned quickly, others were caused by arsonists. I would prefer to call them terrorists. Their cause and their purpose were one and the same: to cause as much damage as possible to Israeli society and infrastructure and to sow terror and pain among the populace.

Much has been said about the parallel of the fires being set by Arab residents of Israel to the story of King Solomon and the two mothers. Naftali Bennett’s comment that “only one who does not belong to the land can set fire to it” went viral, in my circles at least, and mirrored the lesson of in the King Solomon story.  Someone who truly cares for something, or someone, would rather see it taken away than hurt in any way.  Journalist Caroline Glick posted on Facebook on Thursday that someone reported seeing their Arab neighbors set their own apartment building on fire.

What kind of mentality must a person have to be able to set fire to their own home and leave themselves homeless in order to harm others? This is a person who has been indoctrinated to have no sense of value of self, value for their families’ well-being, or value of life – their own or others.  There is an incitement and a culture that values and glorifies the violence wreaked upon Israel. It’s no secret that there are even children’s television programs that encourage Arab children to aspire to kill Jews.

The value in Jewish culture is to cherish life, to give our own lives for the protection of others, of our families and loved ones. We seek to live, to thrive, and to grow. We value life above all and whatever we can do to preserve it, to cradle it, to give it its best chance at success, we will do. We pass this value on from generation to generation.

What appalled me this week, almost more than the scope of the fires and destruction of homes and forests in Israel, was how the Palestinian contribution of aid in fighting the fires, sending firetrucks and firefighters to help Israel, was lauded and it particularly bothered me when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for his assistance.


Abbas Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

It was infuriating because if it wasn’t for Abbas’ own inflammatory speeches inciting hatred and violence toward Jews, such as “We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood, blood spilled for Allah, Allah willing. Every martyr (Shahid) will reach Paradise, and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah,” and the like, along with his media apparatus and government mouthpiece encouraging violence against Jews, we might have been spared the fires, the violence and the trauma that Israelis have experienced in past year, with a spate of stabbings and car rammings committed by Arabs who look to Abbas as their leader, whether they live within PA jurisdiction or not.

Had Abbas been elucidating a spirit of coexistence and assistance, as demonstrated by this gesture of aid during the time of the fires, instead of encouraging his populace to seek the death and destruction of their Israeli neighbors, maybe we would be in a different place now. Maybe we wouldn’t be looking at endless hundreds of homes burnt, people traumatized and displaced, destruction of precious forests.

We can put out fires, we can beef up security, we can put concrete barriers up, but until this very serious problem of the demonization of Israel, of the incitement to hatred and violence and the rhetoric that declares its opposition to normalization with Israel is directly addressed to those perpetuating it, and consequences felt as a result, I’m sad to say that I don’t think this will ever stop.