"This is what 'coexistence' looks like"

Expert on Middle East describes fire raging through his hometown of Haifa, says this is a 'return' on city's investment in coexistence.

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Benny Toker,

Fire in Haifa
Fire in Haifa
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With fires raging across Israel, including inside the northern coastal city of Haifa, growing numbers of Israelis believe that many of the blazes were intentionally set – in an attempt by Arabs to take advantage of the dry, windy weather to pursue war against the Jewish state by any means.

Among the proponents of this view is Dr. David Bukay, a Professor of Middle East Studies at the University of Haifa.

An expert on the Arab-Israeli conflict and a resident of one of the Haifa neighborhoods which was evacuated on Thursday, for Bukay, the fires hit a little too close to home - literally.

In an interview to Arutz Sheva, Dr. Bukay recalled the evacuation.

“Our neighborhood is being completely torched,” said Bukay, “there’s no other way of describing it. We were evacuated two hours ago from the new Romema [neighborhood] to old; now both of them are ablaze and we’ve driven to the Hadar neighborhood. We took ourselves, the computer, some photo albums – and left everything else behind. But the important thing is that we and the children are all safe.”

While Haifa, a mixed-city with a significant Arab population, has long pursued progressive policies and advocated for multi-culturalism, said Dr. Bukay, Thursday’s firestorm is an illustration of what that approach is yielding for Israeli society.

“Today we saw an illustration of what we’re going to get for all of the benefits that we give to the Arabs. The Haifa municipality hires Arabs in all of its operations, and the mayor thinks that this is how we’ll get peace and quiet. Today we see what ‘coexistence’ means to them.”

Given the number and timing of the fires across the city, continued, Dr. Bukay, the blazes appear to be the result of multiple Arab arsons.

“Fires were sparked in four different places across Haifa at the same time. I was worried about something like this happening since Saturday, but I hoped that it would just be a forest fire, but they’ve managed to burn down Haifa. It’s just terrible, it’s outrageous. Where are all the people who claim the Arabs love the Land of Israel? Look at how they’ve decided to burn Haifa; it’s an outrage. Entire neighborhoods are going up in flames, including my own.”

The areas burning include some of the most beautiful vegetation in Israel and are posing a mortal danger to small and large forest creatures as well.

In response to this criminal behavior, argued Dr. Bukay, Israel must target not only the arsonists themselves, but those who have incited against Israel, including members of the Joint List party.

“The investigators will find soon enough that today’s fires were started at four different locations and at the same time. Sadly, these disgusting creatures managed to burn Haifa, and I suggest arresting [Joint List MK] Ahmed Tibi, who warned after the Muezzin Law was proposed, saying that ‘Now you’re going to get it’. I have no doubt that Ahmed Tibi’s words contributed to this.”

“He should have been arrested, he’s a dangerous man. He should be put in prison, and all activities of the [Joint List] Arab party shut down. We’re trying to buy them off, we give billions of [shekels] to the Arab sector, as if they’re some poor, disadvantaged [group], but we’re the disadvantaged, not they. Today we got to see what 'coexistence' is like.”