Headlines in Israel and the world over chided Israel Tuesday after it allegedly "barred" a group of Palestinian Authority firefighters who helped fight the Carmel wildfire from attending a ceremony in their own honor. However, the real story behind the event may involve ill-willed machination by a prominent, anti-Zionist Arab politician.
Eleven PA Arabs were invited to attend the event in northern Israel, but the ceremony was called off when three of the firefighters were refused entry by the IDF security guards, Knesset Member Ahmed Tibi (Ra'am-Ta'al) informed reporters. "It's a theater of the absurd. This is a regular day-to-day practice of the occupation, and it exposes its ugly face," he said to The Associated Press.
The IDF said the delay in giving entry permits to the three firefighters was unintentional and occurred because of "a technical error in coordination between the two sides." A military spokesman stated that he regretted the incident.
Tibi was one of the event's organizers. Presumably, intervention on his part could have solved any technical problem that held up the three firefighters. However, it appears that he may have preferred to cancel the event and use that as an excuse to besmirch Israel in the international press.
Aiding the Fifth Column
While it cannot be proven that the incident was an intentional Ahmed Tibi production to make Israel look bad - if this turns out to be true, it should not come as a surprise.
The highly intelligent MK Tibi, a favorite interviewee among Israeli liberal journalists, is considered by nationalist observers to be one of Israel's most dangerous internal rivals. A former gynecologist, he became a Knesset member after serving as an adviser to PLO founder Yasser Arafat, who launched the Terror War against Israel in 2000. When Arab citizens of Israel joined the war as a violent fifth column, Tibi was able to use his influence to bring about the establishment of a committee of inquiry that blamed Israel's police for using force to quell the uprising. The commission brought about the resignation of top police officers and led directly to the police's current policy of non-intervention against Arab violence.
On one occasion, Tibi brought a busload of Arabs whose sons were killed in the riots to the committee's deliberations. One of the Arab men in the parents' delegation got up during the testimony of a top police officer and punched him in the face, breaking his nose and humiliating the Israel Police. Tibi was seen beaming on video shot soon afterward, as the delegation boarded its bus.
Tibi is a Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, yet seems to revel in humiliating the country in whose parliament he serves. His latest antic was the participation in a delegation to Libya that met with Muammar Qaddafi. He has participated in pro-terror rallies in the PA. He has been caught on tape threatening that Hamas will "put pressure on Gilad Shalit" if Israel toughens the conditions of Arab terror prisoners.
Dying while saving Arabs
The Israelis who died in the Carmel fire had participated in the evacuation of Damon prison, which holds PA Arab terrorists. Had the prison been evacuated less thoroughly, or simply allowed to burn, 43 Israeli lives could have been saved. This did not impress the PA Deputy Minister of Prisoners, Ziyad Abu Ein, who said on the day of the fire that Israel was not concerned about saving the lives of the Arab prisoners and was being intentionally slow in moving them away from the fire zone.
About 20 PA firefighters joined the international effort against the great blaze. They did not fight the Carmel fire, however - but were reportedly sent to replace Israeli firefighters in the village of Barta'a, half of which is inside the PA. They thus freed up the Israeli crews to battle the blaze in the Carmel.