The Lesson of Purim

8 March 2011

The recent events in Gilad Farm with the alleged firing of rubber bullets on Jewish citizens during the demolition of homes has caused many right-wing and nationalist politicians to forcefully condemn the police actions and claim that “red lines have been crossed”. Although their criticism is understandable, the difficult question that needs to be asked is what would have been the reaction of the same politicians if the homes were destroyed without violence? Would they still have raised their voices in angry protest or would they have quietly and grudgingly accepted the demolitions?

This question takes on significance in light of the fact that just a few days before the events in Gilad Farm, the National Union submitted a bill that would have placed the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria under complete Israeli sovereignty rather than them continuing to be under the jurisdiction of the Defense Ministry. The implication of such a move is that it would remove these communities from being under the constant threat of demolitions and construction freezes.

In this instance, however, the same politicians that a few days later angrily cried about red lines being crossed in Gilad Farm chose to be quiet and did not support the bill. Although there is no doubt that they supported the gist of the bill, in the end various considerations such as “the time is not right” together with internal coalition pressure caused them to go against their conscience and remain silent.

This brings us to Purim. The turning point of the story is when Mordechai pleads with Esther to approach King Achashverosh in order to request his intervention in saving the Jewish people. Esther counters that she cannot since the king has not summoned her and approaching the king without his invitation is likely to get her killed. Unable to convince her, Mordechai tells Esther that if she continues to be silent and tragedy befalls the Jewish people then her position of royalty will not help her and she’ll perish as well together with the rest of the nation. Mordechai then follows up this powerful message by telling Esther that perhaps it was specifically for the purpose of being in a position where she could help save the Jewish people that she was made Achashverosh’s queen in the first place. Hit with the raw truth, Esther overcomes her hesitation and proceeds to help save the Jewish people.

The lesson should be clear. Those politicians that occasionally allow various considerations to stand in their way of publicly declaring their support for extending Jewish sovereignty in Judea and Samaria should know that perhaps it was just for this reason that they were propelled into such key positions. Each one of them has been afforded the rare opportunity of having the influence to help save the Jewish people, in this case by publicly promoting Jewish sovereignty in Judea and Samaria as opposed to a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria. Moreover, by understanding that they have been granted such an important mission, they should be stating their views constantly and not waiting for the occasional instance of excessive violence to make their voices heard.

What is more, to continue claiming that the time is not yet right for the raising of such ideas is wishful thinking. The time will never be right! Moreover it is foolish to continue waiting since each day that goes by brings us that much closer to the existence of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria being a done deal.

One can only imagine what would have happened to the Jewish people had Esther remained quiet due to personal or political concerns.

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