As fires rage across the Carmel region, the result of terrorist arson, some Israelis look to the Bible to understand a deeper lesson of what these flames mean.
A national emergency was declared as a fire of enormous proportions threatens entire regions in Israel. Over 60,000 residents were evacuated from the Haifa area, and public transportation was shut down in certain areas. Several houses and automobiles were consumed by the flames. Hundreds of firefighters struggled to react as fires cropped up suddenly in hundreds of separate spots, indicating the blazes were set intentionally. Greece and Cyprus sent fire-fighting airplanes to help. Newly set fires now threaten Jerusalem and the surrounding area.
Israel’s police chief Roni Alsheich said on Thursday afternoon that there were “some cases of arson, and lots of cases that are not arson…. It’s likely that there is a nationalistic motive in some of the arson cases.” Alsheich added: “Some suspects have been arrested… I don’t think it is organized (arson).”
Education Minister Naftali Bennet (Jewish Home) had no doubts, telling Channel 2 News the fires were “a major wave of arson… terrorism in every sense of the word.”
Malkah Fleisher, a Jerusalem resident originally from Texas, had no doubts that this was an attack on Israel, but she understood a deeper lesson in the tragedy. She opened her Bible and saw a clear link between the fires raging now and fire that once raged in the same place so many years ago.
“It dawned on me that this is not the first time the nation of Israel has seen fire on Mount Carmel,” she told Breaking Israel News. Fleisher took to social media and posted a powerful message, comparing the blaze raging out of control on the Carmel Mountain today to the holy fire Elijah the Prophet called down from the heavens when he faced off against the priests of Ba’al.
And call ye on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of Hashem; and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God.’ And all the people answered and said: ‘It is well spoken.’ I Kings 18:24
“Today, on this site of holy fire, our enemies are using fire against us. Is it a divine message for the nation? I’m not a prophet, I can’t rightly say,” she posted on Facebook. “But I KNOW that the duel is still on between Israel and our physical and spiritual enemies. May we merit to witness the destruction of those who seek to destroy us, and another miraculous rain on Carmel.”
“We need to recall the true value of that mountain and our ancient relationship with it, if not also to take the opportunity to do some introspection as that beloved mountain fights the flames which are trying to consume it,” Fleisher wrote. “The war for the mountain is still on. When the Jewish people know who they are and why they live on Har hacarmel – or anywhere else in Israel – they will have the confidence to do what is right. If those stories can come to our aid, then they are still a little bit alive.”
Malkah’s husband, Yishai Fleisher, the international spokesman for the holy city of Hebron, also learned a deep lesson while staring into the flames set by the enemies of Israel.
“The real tragedy is that these terrorists have a connection to nature and the land, but they use it to destroy,” noted Fleisher. “They know that the conditions, the drought and the strong winds, are perfect for this type of attack.”
“If we escaped the fires of the Holocaust, we’re certainly not going to succumb to this,” stated Fleisher, quoting the prophet Obadiah.
And the house of Jacob shall be a fire and the house of Joseph a flame and the house of Esav for stubble and they shall kindle in them and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esav; for Hashemhath spoken. Obadiah 1:18
“This fire they lit will come back again, but in the manner that the prophet said,’ noted Fleisher.
Arson became a call to battle as Arabs flooded social media, praising the fires. Jerusalem Post reported that “Tel_Aviv_IsBurning” was the most common Arabic hashtag trending on Arab social media platforms on Thursday morning, many citing recent legislation to limit early morning muezzin (calls to prayer broadcast over loudspeakers) as the cause for what they saw as divine retribution.
Fleisher compared the burning of forests to the Philistines stopping up Abraham’s wells in order to drive Isaac away.
“The Philistines needed the water also,” noted Fleisher. “But they hated Isaac so much, and recognized that he was stronger, but their hatred for him, and for his God, was greater than their love of life,” said Fleisher. “The Jews have a connection to the land but we use it to make the desert bloom. This arson makes it so clear that it isn’t about a nationalist struggle. They don’t want to build.They just want to watch the land burn.”
“What they don’t understand is that the Jews have always and will always come back from the ashes. Jews are used to this,” Fleisher concluded. “We will just develop better fire-fighting systems and ways to grow forests. Our fire is a fire of creation, of building and family, of channeling God into the world.”