Bat-Sheva and Hofit Hayat, mother and wife of deceased Israeli firefighter Danny Hayat, shared their story and grief with the families of the 19 Hotshot firefighters who died on June 30 in the Yarnell, Ariz., wildfire.
Amir Levy, fire chief of the Western Galilee, remembers encountering a little girl in an elevator while he was training in the United States a year ago. She looked at him admiringly, commenting to her mother how firefighters are heroes. “That’s not the reaction we were used to getting in Israel,” Levy told an audience of 250, including Los Angeles city officials and the morning shift of the Beverly Hills Fire Department, at an executive breakfast meeting of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) on Dec. 14 at the Beverly Hilton. Following the inferno in the Carmel forests earlier this month that left 44 dead, Israel’s firefighters are now getting recognition as heroes — but heroes whose skill and bravery are undermined by insufficient resources.
Heroes in Town
Friends of Israeli Firefighters (FIF) recently hosted a weekend community outreach to raise awareness for the battle against terrorism in both Israel and America. Various community-based functions were held throughout the weekend, including a forum on terrorism at the Clarity Theatre on Sept. 11 where members of the Israeli delegation answered questions and provided information about the mutual cooperation that exists between Israel and the United States in their battles to combat terrorism.
The United States turned down offers of expert assistance from Israel and other nations in the crucial first days after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.
Instead, the United States solicited material assistance from Israel that was probably superfluous by the time the shipment arrived on the evening of Sept. 8.
The reasons behind the decisions are unclear. Experts have offered a number of explanations, including the bureaucratic difficulties involved in absorbing thousands of foreign first-responder personnel, the belief that the existing first-responder infrastructure in Louisiana and Mississippi was well equipped to handle the crisis and the potential political fallout from asking foreign nations to help the world's greatest power save lives on its own turf.