Purim Today – 2012

Esther ScrollToday I attended the CIJR Colloquium on the Iranian question. Three professors, Prof. Frederick Krantz, Chair (Concordia University), Prof. Harold Waller (McGill University),
and Prof. Norrin Ripsman (Concordia University) all spoke on the topic of Syria, Egypt and the “Arab Spring”: Israel’s Security Situation, following an introduction by  Rabbi Yonah Rosner.

The Rabbi spoke using the drama of the Purim story as a backdrop. (This week will host the Jewish celebration of Purim, March 7th & 8th). Yesterday, in synagogues, in Israel and all over the world, Jews participated in Shabbat Zachor, the Sabbath before Purim which each year reminds us of the injunction “to remember and not to forget” those who have attacked our innocents in the past, (Deuteronomy 25:17-19) or the dangers that these kinds of enemies pose at any time. In my own synagogue Rabbi Aigin also spoke about these issues.

Iran has made open and clear threats to annihilate the Jewish people, to wipe Israel off the map. Both Rabbis reminded us of Queen Esther’s injunction, and the importance of Jewish unity in the face of these kinds of threats. Our history reminds us that threats are serious. And as Prof. Krantz (a historian), pointed out, the only difference between pre Holocaust times and post Holocuast times is that the Jewish people now have a state, the independent State of Israel, and a well trained army and armaments to address these kinds of threats.

However, we are also reminded that the Book of Esther, never mentions G-d, but only the acts and foibles of men and women, some ordinary and some in authority, Kings and Ministers. Tomorrow President Obama addresses AIPAC, (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) the annual gathering of heads of American Jewish institutions and ordinary folk. We will all have to judge, is Obama Ahashverosh – the weak and easily influenced vacillating King described in the Purim Story who first has his Queen Vashti killed for insubordination, i.e. refusing to appear before his party in the nude, and then gives Haman permission to murder all Jews in his Kingdom on a certain day in spring, the day we celebrate as Purim, in exchange for ten thousand ducats. – not a very wise or compassionate King, although in the end he sees the error of his ways. But rulers are not always wise or compassionate. This we see clearly in our our own time. Most of them seem to be focused clearly on acquiring wealth and retaining power at any cost.

Prof Krantz reminded us of the heavy responsibility that Prime Minister Netanyahu now carries on his shoulders, the responsibility of guarding over six million Jews in Israel and the fate of their brethren in the Diaspora as well. For our fates have and always will be linked. Esther in the Purim story reminds us that if Jews have any hope for redemption they must be united, especially in times of crisis.

The Purim scroll is called the Megillah, and it is a tradition to have fun and to put on satirical plays on Purim, they are called Purimshpiels in Yiddish. Another Yiddish expression is “man tracht und G-t lacht.”  Man works and G-d laughs or the English idiomatic equivalent is “Man proposes G-d disposes”.

This article: Remember: The Answer to Terrorism has a deep message regarding how to respond in the face of threats.

Happy Purim to all.

Non-Jews Speak out about Anti-semitism

Recently I received an email with a link to this interesting article about the Italian senate convening in support of Israel.

Former president of the Italian Senate, Marcello Pera, expressed the Italian sentiment well when he stated that ”our Western democracies will not prevail unless we re-embrace our Judeo-Christian heritage.” He said that ”our support for Israel should not be based on guilt, but rather on pride in our common roots and values.”
–  “Defending Israel simply means defending our values and our way of life,” he concluded.

I was born after World War II and in studying history, I always wondered how were the Nazis able to pull off the destruction of over six million Jews and six million non-Jews (according to historical archives) in full sight of the whole world? This information was public and has become even more public though historical research of all kinds.

And I read the article: Rex Murphy:Ahmedinajad Gives the World a Lesson in Hatred. speaking about Ahmedinajad, of Iran who was given a platform for his Jew hatred and anti-zionism by the UN. He writes:

Ahmedinajad is just the latest vessel of the oldest hate. How strange it is that he was speaking to a forum of the United Nations, the one institution built to dam-up for all time the baneful furies released by World War II, of which murderous anti-Semitism was the principal. Irony is far too feeble a term for this ominous charade.”

There are many other non-Jews who have spoken out about these issues. Here is one of the most vocal and incisive, Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal

And also Jews who have not spoken out or even worse sided with the enemy.

If you read any of these articles, all written by non-Jewish observers and analysts you will never be able to say, nobody warned you of what is transpiring right now re anti-semitic anti-zionist rants in the UN, at BDS conferences, at the infamous UN Durban III “Conference for Human Rights” and in the Middle East.

Below is a clip from Sheik Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi: Allah Imposed Hitler upon the Jews to Punish Them – “Allah Willing, the Next Time Will Be at the Hand of the Believers” on El Jazeera television in Quatar.


The moral challenge of the “new anti-semitism” is for all of us to aware of it, and to respond to it wherever it occurs. As was quoted so often: “it begins with the Jews but never ends with the Jews.”