Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hoping for a modern day Purim miracle

Purim is always a joyous time in Israel – and why not? Set in Persia a couple of millennia ago, full of topsy tervy roller coaster changes from one moment to the next where nothing is exactly as it seems, the story depicts the plan by an evil man heading a regional power who plotted to wipe us out. Yet when all seemed lost, the Jewish people were suddenly saved by Queen Esther, our quintessential Jewish heroine. Despite God's name never appearing in the book, the Rabbis understood Him to be busy working behind the scenes in mysterious ways to plan our redemption, even when we feared imminent destruction.

While these days you don't have to look far to find an evil Persian looking to destroy us, the only Esther currently making the Israeli news is actually an Esterina (Tartman), an MK for the Yisrael Beitenu party who came to prominence when she compared the appointment of the first Arab Muslim minister in Israel's history to taking an axe to the tree of Zionism exclaiming that"We need to destroy this affliction from within ourselves. God willing, God will come to our help."

This week, in their infinite wisdom, those running the country decided that she would make an excellent candidate for bringing more visitors to Israel and that she should therefore fill the vacant post of Tourism Minister.

Recent decisions have certainly provided a lot of laughter, but more at the stupidity of the Government decision makers than anything else. In addition to the proposed appointment of Tartman was the picture of our Defense Minister, the man charged with protecting us against outside threats looking through binoculars…with the lens cap still on.

If it wasn't true, these events would bring a bit of much needed Purim cheer. Unfortunately Israel's political system means we are stuck for now with a Defense Minister who has lost all authority and a Tourism Minister known more for her view on Arabs than how to make Israel an attractive place for visitors. Even if such a person does bear a passing resemblance to Angelina Jolie, I know of no other country in the world where someone who carries around a firearm be asked to convince potential tourists that the country is safe.

The up side is that Purim teaches us that things can change for the better in an instant, and that just because all seems lost doesn’t mean we should expect the worst. I just hope that like 2,000 years ago, there is a hidden hand here somewhere guiding us all towards salvation. To paraphrase our new Minister, 'God willing, God will come to our help.'

Happy Purim