Israeli press reports that the wildfire, which has been raging in northern Israel since Thursday, continued to spread on Saturday morning, burning houses in the pastoral artists’ village Ein Hod.
Ein Hod which lies on the road to Haifa is an Israeli artists’ colony. It is located at the foot of Mount Carmel, overlooking the Mediterranean coast. In the fifties, a group of Jewish artists decided to make Ein Hod into their home. They built studios and workshops. Ein Hod is the only artists’ village in Israel, one of the few in the world. Israel and Israelis are very proud of their artists’ colony. Israelis are totally devastated by the impact of the fire on their beloved artist village.
Yet, there is something Israelis may prefer to hide. Ein Hod’s new artistic inhabitants are far from being innocent. Ein Hod is, in fact, Ayn Aawd, a Palestinian village ethnically cleansed by Jews in 1948. Unlike very many other Palestinian villages, Ayn Awad was not destroyed. Though its inhabitants were brutally expelled, most of the houses remained intact. The Israeli artists, are basically a bunch of plunders. They also turned the village mosque into a restaurant/bar, the Bonanza. It is obviously clear that the Israeli artist community participated actively in the Zionist crime.
Those few uprooted Palestinian villagers who survived the 1948 invasion built a new village near by, also called Ayn Hawd. Far from being surprising, the new village is not legally recognized by the Israeli government. It is denied all municipal services (including water, electricity, and roads). In the 1970s, the Israeli government erected a fence around this new village in order to prevent it from expanding. As it happens, Israeli artists dwell in Palestinian homes while the dispossessed indigenous owners are living in poverty around the corner with no running water or electricity.
In the last six decades, the JNF planted millions of pine trees around Israeli villages and towns. These newly planted forests were there to hide traces of Palestinian civilization and the 1948 Nakba. Ein Hod also surrounded itself with pine trees. It helped the Artists to concentrate on creative matters and to evade the misery in Ayn Hawd. It allows the artists to engage with ‘beauty’ and avoid the sin they are entangled with. Seemingly, the forest between Ein Hod and Ayn Hawd is now burned. Nature found its way to confront the Israelis with his and her past and present. Yet, I am far from being convinced whether the Israelis can be morally awaken to the disastrous reality they are complicit in.
Ein Hod is just a symbol of Israeli morbidity. It is a symbol of ethical blindness. But it is also a symptom of Israeli hopelessness.
In spite of its military might, its ‘technological superiority’, its air force, its nuclear capacity and AIPAC, Israel doesn’t know how to deal with fire. It fails to deal with the most banal domestic issues. Israel has been caught begging the world to come to its rescue. Zionism that was there to bring to life an authentic, self-sufficient, civilized and ethical Jew has failed all the way through.