16 December 2010
Michael Warschawski, Alternative Information Center (AIC)

A ceremony honouring the Palestinian firefighters who assisted in putting out last week’s Carmel Forest fire was cancelled, as several of the firefighters did not receive entry permits from the Israeli military. 
In response, the Civil Administration noted that this was due to a technical error, and even expressed sorrow about what the press is dubbing an “incident”.
“How is it that we had permission to come help put out the fire, but none for a ceremony honouring this work?” asked those the Palestinian Authority. Despite over 40 years of occupation, it appears that in Ramallah there are still those who don’t understand what a colonial occupation is. The surprise is not being prevented from entering, but in being allowed to come help in putting out the fire. Did someone check them? Did someone ensure that their equipment did not include explosives? Did someone check that the Palestinian fire chief, has no “security past” and that the driver of the fire truck is not wanted?
There are numerous topics here deserving of a government commission of inquiry, and heads must roll.  And please, don’t fall upon a junior officer or the sergeant responsible for the checkpoint: the Minister of Defence, in all his glory, must be held accountable and thrown from his office. No one will be sorry about this, and perhaps this will be the one positive outcome of the Carmel fire. Yet again someone fell asleep on duty.
44 years of Israel’s colonial occupation – what to mention the decades of Israeli colonialism prior to 1967 – have completely deformed the Israeli collective consciousness, and there exists no possibility of seeing a Palestinian as anything other than an occupied subject, subject to the mercy of every uniform wearer or bureaucratic clerk of the occupation. “Bureaucratic error”, explained Israel’s spokespersons, yet Israel in its entirety is one big colonial bureaucracy in relation to the indigenous population. A Palestinian is a Palestinian is a Palestinian; in the best case a problem, in the worst – a threat.
When I read in the newspaper about the “incident” of the firefighters, I couldn’t help remembering the tens of previous similar “incidents” during the Oslo period, when Palestinian representatives on their way to official talks with Israeli officials were detained, held at checkpoints or forced to undergo humiliating checks just like all other Palestinians. “Bureaucratic error”, they said then, as now, and apologized. “Colonial reflex” is an expression that better describes the situation in which every clerk or officer is incapable of seeing a Palestinian as anything other than a native under his control. Not a firefighter on the way to a fire, and not a doctor in an ambulance: a native. One still searching for a reason for the fiasco called Oslo should think of the firefighters “incident”, fifteen years later. We learned nothing and forgot nothing.
This chronically arrogant mentality is also evident in relation to the international assistance given to Israel during the fire: we were forced to accept it, including from Turkey, and thank the heads of states who sent aid, but this stuck in Netanyahu’s throat. “The entire world is against us”, “it doesn’t matter what the goys say” and “the people alone”; this is the Zionist ethos. Not international assistance and certainly not expressing gratitude. And in the case of Turkey, the thanks must be accompanied by an apology for the massacre by Israel’s navy commando on the Marmara.
The last aspect and most pathetic: the wonders at the American supertanker: if only it had arrived right away, we would not have needed the Turks and the Greeks, and certainly not the Palestinians. From the United States Israel is willing to accept everything, it is natural as this is within the family and doesn’t even require gratitude – as we saw with Netanyahu’s attitude toward the American request for a moratorium on settlement construction.
Bibi, tell them in what age we live, for few know neo-conservatism like you…You have turned it into a religion, and the free market principles into the eleventh commandment…

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