Thursday, February 12, 2009

Australian bushfires ease - Israel's continue

The burned-out suburb of Kinglake West looking south towards Melbourne
Picture: David Geraghty (The Australian)

Thank G-d the threat of new bushfires in Victoria seems to be easing after 5 horrendous days. Thanks to rain overnight and cooler temperatures it is reported that no towns are under threat although people are warned to stay vigilant. Now comes the even bigger job of continuing to find those that perished and of the victims and families who live in the ravaged areas rebuilding their property and their lives.

Australians are shocked at the loss of life which is predicted to end up at close to 300 people. We are used to hearing about tragedies in far away places but not on our doorstep. There will need to be a huge change in the way people think about bushfires and the way the relevant authorities react to them. Hopefully politics will not get in the way of good decisions being made.

What is really upsetting about the bushfire situation is that some of the fires were caused by arson. I hope that when the authorities catch these criminals they are treated as murderers by the law.

Another sign of our times is that people are trying to profit from this tragedy. Bogus collectors have already been caught, thieves have been stealing from some of the devastated areas and the Sydney Yeshivah's publicity machine has declared how much they are doing to help the victims.

On a more positive note we can make a difference by donating money to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. I would suggest doing this through Jewish Aid Australia.

I would also urge you to attend Caulfield Shul tonight for an evening of tefillah and solidarity with the bushfire victims.

(Click on picture for a bigger view)

Due to the bushfires the election in Israel has not been given the prominence it would usually have especially with regards to the outcome of that election. The right-wing parties have won the majority of votes although Kadima beat Likud by one seat. It will be interesting to see who becomes Prime Minister and if anything will change in the way Israel deals with the Palestinians. I am not optimistic.

From the Jerusalem Post