Illustrations by Amos Biderman
Photo by Illustrations by Amos Biderman
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That’s it, I’m quitting smoking. I’ve tried unsuccessfully for years to kick the detestable habit. Blood pressure, headaches, chest pain, and faltering health − none of these factors had an impact that could compare with the fear caused by the wave of hatred that swept the country this week.

I’m quitting smoking because I know that lighting a cigarette will soon count as a suitable pretext for bringing Arabs in for questioning. Soon TV police reporter Moshe Nussbaum will report at the start of a broadcast: “A suspect was apprehended after he held a lighter in his hand and moved it close to the cigarette he held between his lips,” and nothing in this coverage will sound strange to viewers, who will wait impatiently for incriminating photographs.

The pictures will be brought by IDF drones, and the crime reporter will then continue in an authoritative vein: “Here, we can clearly see the suspect take a pack out of his pants pocket, and now, as you see, he is whisking out a cigarette, what looks to me like a Winston Light − but police are waiting for the laboratory reports on that. Also, in interrogation, the suspect admitted that on the previous evening he enjoyed himself at a well-known Jerusalem bar ‏(how he avoided security personnel at the entrance remains to be determined‏). He sat in this venue, which was crowded with Jews, and asked the bartender the following incriminating question: ‘Have you got a light?’” The reporter will take a deep breath and exclaim, “Yes, indeed, these are tough scenes to picture.”

Let’s not be naive: We all know that Arabs are the ones who burned down the Carmel forests. Not one Arab, not two, not a thousand. The Arabs burned the Carmel. And don’t kid yourselves: you know very well that the Arabs won’t get caught this time, mainly because of police impotence − the incompetent police proved unable to carry out a real investigation and grab the Arabs who burned down the Carmel. No matter: This time they managed to avoid punishment, but next time we will know how to give them the punishment they deserve. We are here, we have patience, and you can trust the Arabs to get entangled in something nefarious very soon.

And I, like an idiot living in denial about the reality that surrounds us all, was really happy to hear about the Turkish aid; and I was also glad to hear that help came from Jordan and Egypt; more than anything, succor given by the Palestinians warmed the heart. Like an idiot, I thought there was a force called humanitarian mercy, which crosses international borders. I thought that here was an event that would underscore equality − that another natural disaster or two, perhaps locusts and an earthquake, would be a fair price to pay for bringing peace to the region.

Oh, God. The end will be bitter; I’m sure about that. How did this happen? How did this national consensus that “the Arabs burned down the Carmel” materialize? What accounts for the determination and the persistence of the investigators, journalists and civilians who proved that this was an act of terror?

That was indeed one of the words they used when they covered the blaze. Terror, no less. Even if it turns out this time that it was the reckless act of a Druze teenager, they will continue to look for a terror mastermind operating behind the scenes, and arsonists who wanted to add to the blaze.

In general, the decision in the early 1950s to stop calling the Druze “Arabs” was a grievous error. Because of that stupid mistake, we can’t say that Arabs burned down the Carmel. And I know, God how I know, that in your heart of hearts you believe that in the final analysis, Druze are Arabs. And you know that the Druze are playing an identity game, and you don’t really buy their declarations of loyalty; you think they make such declarations out of expediency, as is common among the weak; and that at the moment of truth, those Druze will make clear to whom their loyalties really belong. The Arabs burned down the Carmel because they are bad people. It’s as simple as that. Bad, like in the movies, pure evil. Arabs burn down forests because they are primitive. I can picture them lighting a blaze and laughing their satanic laugh, lighting a fire and grabbing their red pitchforks; I can see their horns and black capes flapping in the wind as they return to their hellholes.

What began as a painful ecological disaster quickly becomes a national catastrophe; and in national disasters there is no room for Arabs. No, excuse me, that’s not accurate: Arabs have a specially designated place during national catastrophes. We just saw everything − security officials, war rooms, plans, ministers, victims who were immediately declared to be IDF war casualties, correspondents in the field, 24 hour broadcasts, news commentators on the front line. The bad guys were missing from all these pictures. Where the hell were the Arabs? Somebody should bring me some Arabs right now. I don’t have any Arabs here.

No trial could possibly help − the Arabs burned down the Carmel. “Could you please tell us, sir, if this was an act of extreme nationalism?” − that question was asked by every interviewer. We begged to hear those words − terror attack, bloodthirsty enemy − in order to turn a hypothesis into a fact.

The Arabs are guilty; and if they didn’t really light the fire this time, they were nonetheless very happy about what happened. The fact is that all it took for Haifa Radio presenter Inbar Dotan to pass the town of Fureidis and hear some fireworks, for her to declare that the Arabs are having parties and dancing on others’ graves. The sad thing is that Dotan will be considered a heroine, one of the people who told the whole truth, without being cowed by political correctness. After all, we don’t really need to verify the facts, because we all know the truth: the Arabs burned down the Carmel.