The Purim of Our Time

There is a common saying that history repeats itself. While this is true for all peoples, it is especially true for the Jewish people. The similarities between the events that have unfolded recently (and are still unfolding) and the Purim story are uncanny. To summarize: there is an existential threat from Persia threatening to eradicate Jews from the earth. One of the leaders of the Jewish people is trying to defend the Jewish people, making a desperate plea to the most powerful ruler in the world. The Jewish community is fractured in many regards, leaving some Jews without the assistance of their brethren.

At the beginning of February, I wrote an editorial as to why the international community should not stand idly by as Iran races to acquire nuclear power. As March begins, my sentiment has only grown stronger in believing that allowing Iran to have nuclear power will be an unprecedented danger for Israel and countries with Western values.

There are many reasons why Iran should not be allowed to develop nuclear power. The fanatical Iranian regime hangs gay people in the streets and stones women to death. Iran funds, provides weapons for, trains, and gives sanctuary to members of Hamas and Hezbollah. As the largest sponsor of state terrorism, a nuclear Iran would allow terrorists to have access to arms far more dangerous than their incredibly full arsenals already contain. Iran and its cronies are vehemently anti the United States (see 1979 Iranian Revolution, 1983 Hezbollah bombings…). This past Thursday, General Mustafa Yazdi, the Assistant Chief of Staff of the Iranian army, threatened to “wipe Tel Aviv and Haifa off the map” in the event of an Israeli attack on Iran. While Iranian hatred for Israel is no new phenomena (former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also called to “wipe Israel off the map”), it takes on a different approach with today’s threats.

The United States should not stand by and watch its only true ally in the Middle East squirm. If Saudi Arabia, a country whose ties with Israel have been historically frosty (and a country not known as a bastion of Western ideals), is willing to allow Israel to use Saudi airspace if an attack on Iran is necessary, then the message should be clear to those negotiating with Iran: any deal that does not disarm the country is a bad one.

This brings me to my next point: what happens if Iran actually acquires a nuclear weapon? If they intend to use it on Israel (as many Israel supporters believe is the case), will they be willing to sacrifice the lives of the Muslims who live in Gaza, Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the surrounding areas in exchange for the deaths of the Jews who take up a fraction of the combined Middle East land? Will they actually banish their own people from the earth out of hatred for one of the smallest minorities in existence? Every person in these areas, regardless of religion, should be begging Israel and the West to quickly end this threat. One could even argue that these people should be protesting that the threat has not been squelched already.

The State of Israel is vital to the existence of the Jewish people. As is evident throughout history, Jews are a targeted group of people. A world without Israel would subject Jews to anti-Semitism and other attacks without a means of defense or a place of refuge. While many Jews in the United States (and abroad) feel free to bash Israel, the Israeli government, and blindly defend those questioning Israeli policy, they should remember that Jews also felt safe in countries such as France, Germany, Poland, Russia, Syria, Yemen, and many others. That is until the leadership of these countries incited violence against Jews, declined to take necessary action to protect the Jewish communities in their countries, and/or chose to look the other way when their Jewish residents came under attack.

What will it take for these people to understand the existential threat any deal, other than a complete disarmament of Iran’s nuclear ambition, poses? Name a villain in Jewish history: Haman (and his tribe, Amalek), Hitler, the Hamas terrorists who dress up as Jews and offer hitchhiking rides to Israelis. Cunning and deception was (and is) a main part in their quest to kill Jews. Iran is right in line with these criminals to humanity. Some will say that Iran is truly seeking peaceful nuclear power in order to better the lives of their citizens. But with a track record of human rights violations that few countries (if any) can rival, Iran is not a trustworthy partner in the nuclear discussion.

The Purim story does have a happy ending as the Jewish people in Persia are saved and Haman and his accomplices are killed. However, the world is a more complex place today. Will later generations of Jews be celebrating a second Purim? What will their megillah read?

About the Author
Joshua Z. Lavine is a second-year MALD candidate at The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy at Tufts University, concentrating in International Security Studies and Southwest Asia & Islamic Civilization. Prior to Fletcher, he worked at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) for three years. Following his first year at Fletcher, he spent the summer interning at the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations. Josh is from Scarsdale, New York and holds a BA in Hebrew & Judaic Studies and Journalism from New York University.