Next Monday evening, Jews across the world will begin to celebrate Purim, which commemorates a victory of the Jews over the man Haman. More than a Jewish Holiday, Purim is the ultimate holiday for political junkies (like me).
On Purim, we hide our faces wearing masks because, in a way, everyone in the Purim story was wearing a mask. King Ahasuerus hid his authority and gave it to Haman. Esther hid her background and even changed her name from Hadassah to hide her religion. Mordecai hid the fact that he was Esther’s uncle, and Haman hid his plot to kill the Jews. But the most significant “hidden character” in the Purim story is G-d.
Jews recognize that it was G-d who helped us emerge safely in this battle against extermination — even though there were no “splitting the Reed Sea” or “stopping the sun”-type miracles. Looked at individually, the events of the Purim story do not seem extraordinary, but when you put them all together, it is a well-planned out scenario, a miracle which forced the Jews in Persia to reconnect with G-d and ended up saving them from extinction.
Twenty-four hundred years later, politicians and world leaders are masking the truth the same way “politicians” did in ancient Persia.
he presidential primary season is a great example. The candidate who gets the most votes in a primary claims victory, but in many cases, the number two and sometimes number three find a way to say they won.
A great example is democratic-socialism. Socialist candidates in America are enticing millennials with the promise of free health care and college, guaranteed income or minimum wages, a total reworking of the economy to fix global warming, and more. What they leave out is the fact that socialism sounds lovely but has not worked anywhere. Hidden behind political masks are the breadlines in the Soviet Union, lack of toilet paper in Cuba and starvation in Venezuela. They never discuss that socialism killed over 100 million people during the 20th century.
Another mask of socialism is when Bernie Sanders claims that socialism works in Denmark. But what is working in Denmark is capitalism. In 2015, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who then was the prime minister of Denmark, remarked, “I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.”
Socialists are not the only politicians who, like the Purim characters, are masking their true intentions.
Leaders like Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senator Minority Leaader Charles Schumer claim to be fighting anti-Semitism but go out of their ways to attend and toast the 65th birthday party of anti-Semite Al Sharpton.
The presidential primary season is ripe with people hiding the truth. Watch the results. The candidate who finishes first in each contest will claim victory, but the second-place finisher and sometimes even the candidate finishing third will find a way to claim victory.
When Bill Clinton was running for his first term, the turning point which led him to the nomination was after the New Hampshire primary when he declared himself the “comeback kid.” Clinton lost that primary by five percent.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is in the 16th year of his 4-year term, claims to be a moderate searching for peace. Yet he refused to keep negotiating when Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered him a deal that gave him almost everything he wanted. Abbas also refused to talk to Trump’s team when they were developing their recently announced peace plan.
State-run Palestinian TV, run by Abbas and his party, teaches kids how they must kill their Jewish neighbors and news programs incite adults with false stories of Israeli actions against Muslim holy sites.
The leaders of modern-day Persia (Iran) can also remind people of Purim. They claim to be enriching uranium for peaceful nuclear power. Still, thanks to the nuclear files taken by Mossad from Iran and revealed to the public, we learned that they intended to build atomic weapons and. like Hamon in the Purim narrative, they want to destroy the Jewish people.
Much of the mainstream media masks the truth. They still refuse to acknowledge that former President Obama is an anti-Semite but call President Trump one even though. while in office, he’s fought against anti-Semitism. Before running for president, he was a supporter of Jewish causes his entire life.
Another interesting parallel of Purim with today is this: When Haman’s plot was revealed, the king couldn’t save the Jews, he could only grant permission for the Jews to protect themselves.
America’s former “king,” President Obama, withheld his consent for Israel to attack Iran and criticized her when Israel fought back against terrorists. But if push comes to shove, Israel will defend herself and the rest of the Jewish people with or without permission. Because, as in the Purim story, while G-d may not be doing the overt miracles (and hasn’t since the 1969 Mets), he will “have our backs” just as he has had our backs since Abraham left his father’s house and moved to the land of Israel almost 4,000 years ago.
I am a political junkie watching, researching and practicing political punditry from Saturday nights to just before sunset every Friday. But next Monday night and Tuesday will be different. Instead of modern politics, I will be listening to a political story from 24 centuries ago, thanking our Maker for getting us through a political crisis that could have killed off the Jews. And when it’s all done , Iwill have a l’chaim with family and friends.
Come to think of it, that too is like modern politics.