Repeating History

Today is Purim. It is a holiday whose basis is laid out in the biblical Book of Esther.

In the ancient kingdom of Persia, a Jewish girl named Esther entered a royal beauty pageant. Her attractiveness and charm enabled her to win and become queen. Unfortunately, since she had hidden her Jewish identity, she found herself facing a dilemma when she learned of the evil plot of the king’s chief advisor, Haman, to annihilate the Jewish people. Should she stay silent and hope for some divine intervention or should she speak up and expect retribution or even death? With both trepidation and conviction, Esther devised a strategy to approach King Ahashverosh and secure her husband’s support for her people. She bravely confessed all to him and revealed Haman’s anti-Semitic plan. She implored, “If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated” (Esther 7:3). Fortunately, the king agreed and intervened on behalf of her and the Jewish people.

*     *     *

The ancient Persia – modern day Iran – once again is a threat; and not just to the Jewish people and Israel this time. It is true that Iran’s history with Israel is one filled of antisemitism, hate, and a stated desire to “wipe Israel off the map.” But the United States and democracy are Iran’s enemies as well. It also is a known fact that the Iranian regime funds and supports Hezbollah, Hamas, and terror around the globe.

During this week of Purim, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke at a joint session of the U.S. Congress. On behalf of the State of Israel and the fate of the free world, he had no choice but to implore the White House to reconsider entering into a deal with Iran that does not inhibit the amassing of centrifuges that can be used to enrich uranimum for nuclear weapons.

Shockingly, there was much controversy about the appropriateness of Netanyahu’s speaking to Congress. Some felt it was a deliberate slight to President Obama. Others felt is was grandstanding before Israel’s own upcoming elections. And many American Jews felt torn. I wasn’t conflicted or confused. In my opinion, Netanyahu did what he had to do. As it reads in Megillat Esther, I would say to Bibi, “who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

Bibi asked Congress, and other leaders of the free world in turn, to maintain restrictions on Iran until it: “stop[s] its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East…stop[s] supporting terrorism around the world…stop[s] threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.” In the absence of these commitments, especially given Iran’s commitment to the pursuit of amassing nuclear weapons, the deals on the table will create situations of which the entire world should be afraid. Netanyahu reminds us all that the “foremost sponsor of global terrorism could be weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons and this with full international legitimacy.”

We all must hope and pray that those who are committed to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness will all band together to do the right thing. On this day of Purim, I applaud Netanyahu’s efforts and all those who heed his words.

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