Israel / USA — An Israeli diplomat said many groups in the United States including those in Oklahoma have reached out to help Israel in the aftermath of a large forest fire in December.
Israeli consul general says Israel grateful for forest fire aid from groups in United States
Meir Shlomo, Israeli consul general to the Southwest, said his nation is grateful for support from various groups since a fire in early December ravaged a 20-square-mile area in the Carmel forest, a popular nature spot on Haifas outskirts. More than 40 people were killed, and thousands were displaced by the fire.
Shlomo, whose office is in Houston, Texas, discussed the fire and foreign supporters during his recent visit to Oklahoma City. Shlomo was a featured speaker at Oklahoma Israel Exchange or OKIEs dinner honoring Betty Price, former longtime executive director of the Oklahoma Arts Council, for helping OKIE strengthen its efforts in the arts. OKIEs mission is to strengthen the cultural ties between Oklahoma and Israel.
In an interview after the event, he said the fire raged for several brutal days at a time when the land was very dry.
We had only winds, Shlomo said. This was like a shock for the whole nation.
Although the wildfire was small by international standards, it was considered a calamity in Israel, where only 7 percent of the land is wooded.
He said Jews placed great importance on connecting with the land of Israel when the state of Israel was established. Shlomo said Israel is the only country that went from the 20th century to the 21st century with a higher number of trees.
He said he was very pleased when he learned that OKIE, the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City and other Jewish groups in Oklahoma were planning to send funds to support Israels efforts to reforest the fire-ravaged land. Shlomo said through organizations such as OKIE, he has seen that some Oklahomans have a natural affinity for Israel, which is appreciated.
Shlomo said one example of OKIEs success can be seen in the fact that a new organization in New Mexico is now patterning itself after OKIE. Shlomo said he had recently attended the organizations first meeting and was delighted to see another group being formed with OKIEs ideals.