Friday, February 26, 2010

February 26

Purim is the Jewish festival depicted and ordained in the Book of Esther. Including this year, in the past 17 years this celebration of Jewish good over Persian evil, fell on or within a day of, February 26 only three times. Most, I am sure, have no clue why one would even care. Haman said to King Achashvairosh, "There is a nation scattered and separated among the nations throughout your empire. Their laws are different than everyone else's, they do not obey the king's laws, and it does not pay for the king to tolerate their existence. "If it pleases the king, let a law be written that they be destroyed, and I will pay to the executors ten thousand silver Kikar-coins for the king's treasury." Esther, Chapter 3, 8-9 Over the past several years, a new threat against the Jewish people in particular, and the West in general, has arisen from modern Persia embodied in Iran and its theocracy, and its president. Today’s Iranian threat against the Jewish people and the West is no less ruthless than the threat of the wicked Haman in ancient Persia, albeit that today's threat comes at the tip of a nuclear armed Shabab missile, or in a suitcase smuggled into any western mall or train station, not a hangman's noose as 2500 years ago. Yet the level of genocidal agitation is no less great, and their rants do not cease. On February 26, 1993 I sat in naïve bliss, just two months from the birth of my first child. Like any first time parents, much of our energy was focused on preparing for this imminent arrival and to become parents for the first time. As I brewed my coffee that morning, nobody imagined the evil that was brewing for that day. Nobody could imagine it, except the terrorists who had hopes to destroy the World Trade Center as high as the buildings themselves. Their plans were foiled and the buildings remained standing, but six people were killed and some 150 injured. February 26 passed and life went on. It was a wakeup call, but like the rest of the world I probably remained ignorant or naïve, or both and, and like most, either did not comprehend that it was serious, or that the threat was what it was, or that this was not just an isolated incident of some angry Moslem men playing with explosive toys. The US and the world hit the collective snooze button. Whether the terrorists who planned and implemented the February 26, 1993 World Trade Center attack were trained and funded by Iran per se, they were and are ideological twins. For eight years the world sat by silently and ignorantly while other terrorists trained, learning how to fly but not land a plane, until the rude awakening the morning of September 11, 2001. This wakeup call was loud and jarring. We jumped out of bed, but I can’t help but feel that in reality, eight years since September 11, we’ve gotten back in bed, and covered our heads with a warm comforter of ignorance and naiveté once again. What’s so perverse is that those who would execute further terrorist attacks have made their intentions fully known. There are no secrets. We know that they are out to get us. Yet we sit back, rather complacently, removing shoes of old ladies at airports, and engaging a proxy war in Afghanistan and Iraq while places like Yemen and Iran heat up. Centuries ago the tables were turned on the evil Haman who ended up dying at the end of the noose which he had prepared for the righteous Mordechai. Today a new threat from Persia looms and we can only pray that those who threaten to carry out such an evil plot again will end up meeting the same fate as their ideological and geographical ancestor. But we can’t sit by and do nothing. We need to be sure that our governments are aware of the threat, are held accountable to act with unswerving strength, and are dedicated to our protection and defeating this new evil. Perhaps this year, amid the joy as we celebrate our victory from genocidal evil twenty five centuries ago, we can use the wakeup call from February 26 seventeen years ago to remind us that the same evil looms in this generation, and must be defeated today as it was then. Like Esther and Mordechai, we must devote ourselves to this, fast and pray, and take action, to be sure that it never happens again. In two months my daughter will turn seventeen. The world is a vastly different place since the two months before she was born. Not because the evil looming is unique, but because if we sleep through it again, we may doom ourselves to not waking up. As a parent, it’s my responsibility to look out for the welfare of her and her siblings so that seventeen years hence, they will have the ability to raise their children in a world that is safer, or at least not more dangerous and radioactive.