Purim in the Middle East

These days the Jews celebrate Purim: how they escaped a grave danger when they were under the control of the ancient Persian Empire, based on the biblical book of Esther.

Throughout the last decades there is a growing threat to the Jews mostly those in Israel because of Iran that wishes to be the new Persian Empire.
Iran is an ancient nation with a rich history. It has more than 70 million people, a vast territory in a strategic location and huge reserves of oil and natural gas. Iran uses those advantages to run a cold war against the United States, Israel and Arabs as well. However, Iran would really become a problem if it produces nuclear weapons.

Lately the Iranian government adapted a new approach, demonstrated by Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani and his minister of foreign affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif Khonsari. They try to show that Iran is changing and willing to work together with world powers in order to reach a deal on Iran’s nuclear program. An interim agreement was already signed in November 2013.

The Israeli government strongly opposes this accord. Israel could not prevent Iran from having some kind of nuclear capability such as skills and knowledge Iran acquired in this field over the years, and trained manpower. Yet Israel hopes and insists on forcing Iran to accept constraints which would stop her from building a nuclear bomb in a few years let alone months. From an Israeli perspective Iran’s attempt to convince the world it has changed is nothing more than what Jews do in Purim i.e. masquerading in costumes.

Iran strives to reduce the sanctions that cripple her economy while buying time to make progress in her nuclear project. If Iran gets nuclear weapon capability and her economy improves, it would not need to disguise itself anymore. The Iranian mask would fall and her real face would be revealed. Iran would be even more dangerous to her neighbors. Purim would be over and for Iran’s foes like Israel it would be a grim new reality. Iran would make the Middle East a much more volatile region.

For the Israeli government the current regime in Iran brings to mind the evil Haman from the biblical book of Esther, the Persian leader who wanted to exterminate the Jews.

Still there are those, not only in western states but in Israel’s intelligence community as well, who believe there is a real power struggle inside Iran between moderates and radicals. There might be a hope that the moderates in Iran win eventually, yet they too seek to possess nuclear capability and they don’t seem willing to change Iran’s anti-Israeli approach.

Israel does not expect Iran to return to be a kind of an ally of Israel, as in the 1970s when the two states had quite close ties, including in security matters. Israel would be satisfied if Iran focuses on her many internal problems or find some other foe to challenge and leave Israel to deal with her own many internal and external issues. Israel has plenty on her plate and it does not need at all a cold war let alone a shooting war with a country that is more than a thousand kilometers from Israel i.e. Iran. The latter and Israel don’t have disputes on borders, water etc. as Israel and the Arabs have.

Unfortunately, Iran would probably go on with her struggle against Israel, a conflict that Jews hope might have a happy end for them, like in the biblical book of Esther.

About the Author
Dr. Ehud Eilam has been dealing and studying Israel’s national security for more than 25 years. He served in the Israeli military and later on he worked for the Israeli Ministry of Defense. He is now a writer and an independent researcher. He has a Ph.D and he had published five books He lives now near Boston, MA. His email:
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