Disproportionate casualties, excessive use of force, genocide.
These libelous charges currently levied against Israel could have easily appeared as the front page headline of the Persian Times back in 356 BCE.
Artaxerxes I, referred to as King Achashveirosh in the Book of Esther, had approved the suggestion of his adviser, Haman, to annihilate the Jews from his vast empire of 127 provinces, stretching from Turkey to Africa.
By a series of fortunate events, Haman’s plans were thwarted and the Jews were saved.
Since the original decree calling for a “day of rage” could not be overturned, the king permitted the Jews to fight back in self defense. Instead of what was to be a “final solution” for the Jews, 75,800 men were killed. No Jewish casualties are recorded, although the Book of Esther does mention that no spoils of war were taken, indicating that the Jews were only fighting because they were being attacked.
The story of Purim has repeated itself more than a few times in our history. Just over 70 years ago, the Holocaust, and shortly thereafter, Israel’s War of Independence was launched with the intended goal of our total decimation.
Even more recently, since 2001 until the present, Hamas has launched over 15,200 rockets and mortars into Israel , aimed at major civilian locales. In accordance with the Hamas charter, the goal was to kill as many Jews as possible.
While taking great measures to reduce Gazan civilian casualties, such as sending warning text messages, phone calls, and patented “knock on roof” air-strikes, Israel fought back in self defense, as she has had to do too many times since gaining independence.
On Purim, we celebrate the miracle of our physical salvation, recognizing God’s role behind the scenes in orchestrating our triumph against all odds. Our survival as a people as well as Israel’s continued existence is similarly miraculous.
Just as by Purim we merited salvation, so too Israel continues to seemingly earn God’s favor in many ways. As a Jewish state, Israel is truly a “light unto the nations.”
In addition to having the most moral army in the world evidenced by the IDF’s regard for the lives of all civilians, Israel treated patients from Gaza during and after the war, including Hamas leader Ismail Hanyeh’s daughter.
Not only does Israel continue to innovate and seek solutions to pressing issues, this remarkable country set up MASHAV, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Center for International Cooperation, as a vehicle to share Israel’s creative solutions with the rest of the developing world. Just one of many such innovations is WaterSheer’s Sulis device, which can extract pure water from any source, including seawater and urine. Israel extends herself in offering humanitarian aid when needed, such as after the tsunami in Japan in 2011 and in the recent conflict in Syria.
Israel also grants full civil rights and representation to her minority population, which includes Muslim Arabs, Christian Arabs, Druze, Circassians, and Armenians. As Prime Minister Netanyahu stated:
Israel’s minorities, including over one million citizens who are Arabs, always have full civil rights. Israel’s government will never tolerate discrimination against women. Israel’s Christian population will always be free to practice their faith. This is the only place in the Middle East where Christians are fully free to practice their faith. They don’t have to fear; they don’t have to flee. In a time where Christians are under siege in so many places, in so many lands in the Middle East, I’m proud that in Israel Christians are free to practice their faith and that there’s a thriving Christian community in Israel.
Father Gabriel Naddaf, an Israeli Arab Greek Orthodox priest from Nazareth confirmed this sentiment:
In the Middle East today, there is one country where Christianity is not only not persecuted, but affectionately granted freedom of expression, freedom of worship and security. It is Israel, the Jewish State. Israel is the only place where Christians in the Middle East are safe… It is time the world woke up to the fact that those who want to destroy the Jewish State are signing the death warrant on the last free Christians in the Holy Land.
The Circassian and Ahmadiyya are minority sects of Islam that are loyal to the State of Israel in recognition of the freedom and protection offered by Israel to practice their religion.
One of the customs observed on Purim is to wear a mask, concealing our identity as God conceals Himself. Defending Israel needs no masquerading. The naked truth, for those willing to hear it, speaks for itself.