The Israeli Government, which has dabbled lately in questionable good will gestures, has decided to extend them toward Jewish citizens as well. The first to enjoy the mercy and compassion of Olmert's government are 56 convicted pyromaniacs.
Spokesman for the government said that the decision was made in order to ease tension between the state and this disgruntled group represented by the Pyromaniacs Liberation Organization who's motto is "Black and Burnt is Beautiful".
In the past the group has torched thousands of acres of woodland in Israel, in an effort to alert the public to its plight, described by Chairman of the PLO, Yair Meged as, "A terrible aversion to all things growing and green and also to anything that is not on fire."
The humane decision, though, has caused outrage in in Israel.
Environmental groups, such as the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel have been up in arms over what they term "The irresponsible release of known felons." Officials from the Society estimate that the number of forest fires will be tripled as a result of this gesture, "We have worked together with The Jewish National Fund in order to build the environment of this country from scratch and the effort of generations of Jews may be obliterated by this short-sighted, populist decision," said a Society spokesman.
In the Knesset, the Meretz Party has taken up the cause of Israel's greenery, "It is unthinkable that the government would threaten the ruin of uncounted trees and acres of scarce woodlands just in order to accommodate a crazy, fringe group of criminals, in the name of a shallow, post-modern ideology," said MK Zehava Galon. Meretz has gone so far as to issue a call to Israel police forces and wardens to refuse orders and not participate in the release of the pyromaniacs, "Civil disobedience in the face of criminal acts of the government is not only every Israeli citizen's prerogative – it is even their duty," said the liberal MK.
Joining in the assault on the government were radical activists from Greenpeace Israel who vowed they would burn Olmert's house down if his government actually goes through with the so-called gesture,
"The life and property of the Prime Minister, his family and anyone else who votes for the release of the sworn enemies of the environment are insignificant compared to the damage their decision will cause," said a press release signed by the group, "We will defend Israel's environment to the death and there will be no backing down," the group promised.
However, despite the public outcry or perhaps because of it, Olmert remains adamant that he will go through with the release, "We must stop the endless cycle of violence-crime-punishment that has bedeviled human society from its inception," Olmert explained, "And it behooves us to take the first step – we will terminate the punishment as a goodwill gesture and in return we are sure that the pyromaniacs will reform their ways and become fine, productive members of society."
Olmert explained that each released criminal will have to sign a sworn affidavit promising to never light fires again, "The signed affidavit is a major weapon in our fight against crime and it has proven to be most effective," said the PM.
Olmert proceeded to attack the "Dangerous, radical environmental groups who have no respect for the democratic process, do not understand the context of the decision nor the threat facing Israel society if the pyromaniacs are not released, "We must release criminals," Olmert thundered, "Or else, Israel will cease to exist."
Olmert has also instructed the police and the ISS to deal swiftly and harshly with the environmental activists who have threatened violence and incited the police to disobedience, "I am all for freedom of speech and I understand their anguish but issuing threats of violence, incitement and any other form of illegal activity will be punished to the full extent of the law," Olmert said, "Because if we do not uphold the law then what does that make us?" Olmert asked. "Obviously, without the law, our democratic society will break down immediately and therefore we have no choice but to defend ourselves in any way possible from the violence of the radical, ideological environmental groups such as Meretz and Greenpeace."
On a final, happy note, the government pointed out that the release of the pyromaniacs just before the Festival of Lights was planned as part of the official celebration of Hanukkah, "We wish a happy holiday to all the people of Israel, and this year we wanted to include the long suffering group of pyromaniacs who, we are sure, will appreciate the gesture," Olmert said.
Let me join our confused Prime Minister in wishing all my readers a Happy Hanukkah filled with candle light, sufganiot and latkes - and no fires!