Purim in the Air

Recent days have been busy ones for us Elders of Zion. So many conspiracies, so little time.

Julian Assange, he of Wikileaks fame, suggested to a reporter that an article critical of one of his comrades, a Holocaust denier, was part of a campaign by Jewish reporters to smear his organization. He singled out British paper The Guardian’s editor, Alan Rusbridger. Told that Mr. Rusbridger isn’t Jewish, Mr. Assange countered that yes, perhaps, but the man’s brother-in-law, also at the paper, is. Later, Mr. Assange asked the reporter to “forget the Jewish thing,” but the moving finger had, alas for Mr. Assange, writ and moved on.

Moving far eastward from England, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in a fiery speech, blamed Israel for destabilizing the Arab world. A bit earlier, a Libyan preacher exhorted his countrymen to not be “led astray” by the example of “fellow Arabs” in places like Tunisia and Egypt because they had been “drawn by the deceiving media… to sow corruption, thus assuming the character of the Jews…”

And don’t even ask about Louis Farrakhan’s latest rant.

With Purim almost here, anyone checking out Iran recently wouldn’t have been disappointed. There, the leaders of what was once Persia have threatened to boycott the 2012 London Olympics because they perceive the word “Zion” in the logo for the games, a highly stylized “2012.” (Now really, how did we ever think we’d get away with that one?)

Then there were other Jew-centered rants, if not outright conspiracy accusations, like the spectacle of a popular actor, after being disciplined for a spree of domestic violence and other bad behavior, lashing out at a Jewish producer named Chuck Lorre but born Charles Levine with the words: “I violently hate Chaim Levine.”

And back in Europe, a famed fashion designer told a Parisian woman: “Dirty Jewish face, you should be dead.” A video of the same fellow surfaced showing him informing a fellow bar patron he believed to be Jewish that “your mothers, your forefathers” would all be “gassed”; and “I love Hitler.” (I, for one, always tend to be wary of my fashion designer.)

We Jews are hard-wired to worry about such things. Understandable, as so little seems to have changed in the world over the millennia. Not 70 years since the Holocaust, we remain the same boogiemen, scapegoats and plotters that we were in the fevered imagination of moronic medievals.

But another feeling belongs here too: recognition of our specialness.

What other ethnic or religious group, after all, can claim the distinction of having been targeted for one or another persecution during practically every historical period since antiquity? What other group, scattered around the globe, has ever been sought out for extermination?

The ancient Greek championed knowledge and beauty; he abhorred the Jew. The Crusader embraced the message of the “New Testament” (peace and love of mankind); he vilified the Jew. The Nazi strove for genealogical purity; he despised the Jew. The Palestinian opposes “Zionist imperialism”; but in the end it is the Jew he hates.

Things might be more understandable were there in fact some World Council of International Jewry nefariously manipulating world governments; or if Jews, as much of the non-Jewish world once believed (and parts still do) indeed murdered children to obtain blood for matzos.

But we all know well that while Jewish organizational meetings can be infernal in their own way they are more mundane than the fabled assembly of the “Elders of Zion”—and that bloody matzo would never receive rabbinic certification, much less Jewish consumer enthusiasm. Yet the myths persevered for centuries—and, sadly, still do.

The hatred defies all logic. Which is precisely why it should fill us with an appreciation of Klal Yisrael’s uniqueness, and the Torah’s truth. For it reflects precisely what we are told in Devorim (28:64-66), that until we merit redemption from our golus we will be “scatter[ed] among all the nations…and in those nations you will not rest… you will be fearful night and day”

One day, though, our golus will end, and our enemies receive their just deserts. Purim is just over a week away. May we seize its power of Jewish unity and dedication to Hashem to bring that day soon.


[Rabbi Shafran is an editor at large and columnist for Ami Magazine]

The above essay may be reproduced or republished, with the above copyright appended.

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