CIJR Colloquium: Iranian Question and Lessons of Purim

The Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR) Colloquium brought together experts to discuss the pressing issue of Iran and its impact on Israel’s security. Distinguished professors Frederick Krantz, Harold Waller, Norrin Ripsman, and Rabbi Yonah Rosner’s introduction provided valuable insights into the current situation in the Middle East, particularly regarding Syria, Egypt, and the “Arab Spring.”

Iran has been a significant concern for Israel’s security for decades due to a multifaceted threat. The main issues at hand are Iran’s nuclear ambitions, support for militant groups, growing regional influence, missile development, hostile rhetoric, geopolitical dynamics, and diplomatic efforts to address them. These challenges highlight the importance of the situation and the need for ongoing efforts to address it.

Rabbi Rosner masterfully wove the Purim narrative into the discussion, which was timely as Jews worldwide observed Shabbat Zachor, a solemn Sabbath preceding Purim. The Rabbi emphasized the importance of remembering and not forgetting past attacks on innocents, drawing parallels to the looming threat posed by Iran, with its explicit calls for the annihilation of the Jewish people and the destruction of Israel. Rabbi Aigin, in my synagogue, also touched upon these themes, reminding us of the imperative to remain vigilant in the face of contemporary threats.

Prof. Krantz underscored the gravity of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s role in safeguarding the six million Jews in Israel and their global brethren. He also emphasized the importance of unity in the face of existential danger, similar to Queen Esther’s call in the Purim story. Drawing from the Purim narrative, the discussion emphasized the absence of explicit divine intervention, instead focusing on the actions and flaws of individuals in positions of power.

As President Obama addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) tomorrow, the parallels to the vacillating King Ahashverosh from the Purim story will be evident, reminding us of the fallibility of leaders in the pursuit of power. Amidst the severe discourse, the Purim tradition emerged, with its lighthearted Megillah readings and satirical plays known as Purimshpiels. The Yiddish adage “man tracht und G-t lacht” encapsulates the dynamic of human effort and divine providence, resonating with the enduring message of the Purim story.

The imperative to remember and respond resonates deeply in the face of contemporary threats. Unity and vigilance remain paramount, as the article “Remember: The Answer to Terrorism” aptly conveys.

Wishing all a joyous Purim.