A Purim Party

I’m a very lucky man, I was born in the USA after the Second World War, a baby boomer is what they call the kids born of my generation. Most of my friends had fathers and uncles who served in the armed forces during that terrible war. Some of them had parents who were among the troops who liberated a few of the Nazi death camps while overrunning Germany towards the end of the war. As kids, we were never really aware of our relatives’ war stories because, frankly, many of them didn’t care to discuss their experiences. My own father,, z”l, never told me much, only that he enlisted in the Coast Guard before the war because he dropped out of school and he really had nothing else planned and a couple of his neighborhood pals had done the same.

My grandparents on both sides hailed from Eastern Europe and Russia. Luckily, for me (otherwise I wouldn’t be here) they were wise enough to get out of Europe after the First World War, or shortly thereafter, and hazarded a frightening trip by sea across the Atlantic to a country where they did not speak the language, know where they would live or even have any idea how they would make a living. That sounds really frightening to me, and quite brave as well. The Europe they left behind was in shambles and I heard many stories about Cossacks, pogroms and a lot of what might be called, folk tales and superstitions. I remember my maternal grandmother, z”l, telling me how Poles sucked anti-Semitism at their mothers’ breasts and that Gypsies stole babies. Yes, I heard about their villages being wiped out by the Einsatzgruppen (Nazi murder battalions) and many of their relatives being among the victims of the holocaust. But since I never knew them, I really had no thoughts about them. Oh sure, there were neighbors who had tattoos on their arms, but it never interested me.

I was raised in an atmosphere of love and security. The existential threat to my own well being was the local bully who made light of my eyeglasses and the fact that I was always seen with a book. The existential threat to the United States was during, what has been called the Cold War, when the former Soviet Union and the US were involved in many a dispute that could have escalated into a full blown nuclear war, or faced each other through proxies, where one side faced the other through their political and military support of opposing sides in a regional conflict. But that was really brought home during the Cuban Missile Crisis of October, 1962 when the USSR was discovered to have delivered nuclear tipped missiles to  Cuba, only 90 miles off the coast of Florida.

I remember my 5th grade class doing air raid drills by taking shelter under our desks which were made of wood. In the event of an atomic bomb exploding on New York City, my classmates and I would have been transformed into kindling. There were news reports of people digging bomb shelters in their backyards, stocking up on canned food and generally, being afraid that the end of the world was approaching. Thank G-d for the steadfastness of the late Pres. John F. Kennedy and the superiority of the American Navy over their Soviet rivals, that the missiles were removed and the threat, for the moment, dissipated. The guiding fear, or, if you wish, philosophy of the time, was a doctrine known as MAD-Mutually Assured Destruction. Basically, this meant that if one side launched a nuclear attack upon the other, the retaliation would destroy both nations so going to war with atomic weaponry was a no win situation for either side. It might be said that nuclear missiles were the surest  guarantee that a world war would, and should, be averted. That MAD doctrine has no place in today’s world of Islamist fanatics, Muslim terrorists and those who behead innocent men, crucify Christians, slay Jews in delis and bury women alive. Indeed, they relish death, they love it.

Today, in another troubled region of the globe, the Middle East, there is again the possibility of a nation on the march toward nuclear power, having not only the ability but avowed purpose, of building nuclear weapons. Not as a guarantee against war, but as a tool to exterminate another country. There are no cooler heads under the turbans of Iran’s mullah fanatics. Just as the Nazi leader preached openly, again and again, his desire to exterminate the Jewish people, so does the “fuehrer” of Persia, and his minions, blast openly and loudly, their desire to destroy the homeland of the Jewish people-to murder another 6 million Jews. Most leaders at the time did not take Hitler seriously, indeed, some of the media called him a fool, an aberration and saw his future as nil. Even many Jewish leaders, both in Europe and America, made light of his declarations.

I am a lucky man. I am privileged to live in the State of Israel-the hope and the renewal of a tertiated nation-a full third of our people, including over one million children, were slaughtered.  The Jews were not decimated,  which means one in ten Today, the third of our nation living on the soil of the homeland, faces the same danger of extermination. Not in gas chambers or by shooting, but by being burned and melted alive in the flash of a nuclear catastrophe. Am I being alarmist? No. I’m merely being exact. By now, we all should have learned to take our enemy’s words as gospel when we hear them. Even the late prime minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion, was known to have said, “When Hitler said he would destroy the Jewish people, we didn’t believe him. When Nasser said it, we believed him.” Let me paraphrase, “When Ahmadinejad said he would bring death upon Israel, we should believe him.” Ahmadinejad is not in power now, but those who echo his sentiments are now much stronger than they were in his time and their path to our intended liquidation is on the move.

This month, we celebrate Purim, the victory of our people over the evil prince of Persia (modern day Iran) known as Haman. Isn’t it somewhat equivocal that our present day foes, Hamas and Hezbollah, begin with the same appellation as Haman?

The Jews of Persia, about 2500 years ago, discovered the evil plans of the day of their intended extermination and rose up and defended themselves with arms, against their would be killers. The ringleader of this attempted debacle, Haman and his brothers (his acolytes) were hanged for their plans. If they had succeeded, the Jewish people would have disappeared in rivers of blood and I, as well as my antecedents, would never have been born.

Well, Persia today is taking the path of Haman. Not in secret but in the open air of 24 hour cable news. I have no desire to disappear and no desire to see my daughter and her family immolated by a sword of nuclear fission. One need not be a seer nor a prophet to note what might lay ahead if Haman, and his Hamas and Hezbollah acolytes, are not eradicated by their intended victims.  Benjamin Netanyahu, the present prime minister of the State of Israel, is going to appear before the United States Congress to make our case to the world that we, the Jewish people in the land of Israel, will no longer be defenseless, we will no longer be silent, we will not stand by and watch our Persian enemy progress on his path towards our destruction-I pray that he tells this message to friend and foe alike.

I hope he tell them the story of Purim and that an Israeli rope will soon hang Haman-that a new Purim celebration is coming.

About the Author
Irwin was born in New York City and is now retired. He lives in Maaleh Adumim since making aliyah 7 years ago.
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