Queen Esther? Wrong Costume, Bibi

Does Israel need Queen Esther now - or another famous figure taken from Jewish history?

Gil Ronen, A7 Staff,

OpEds

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave a great speech to Congress Tuesday, as could be expected. He even pulled off a Purim-style nahfoch-hu reversal when Barack Obama's attempt to stifle him only made his speech more popular.

Will he succeed in putting enough pressure on the White House – and convincing enough Americans, inside Congress and out – to keep the United States from caving in ignominiously to Iran, and to maintain sanctions, or stiffen them?

Who knows. One can only pray fervently that he will succeed, and that eventually, this will lead Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program. If this happens, Netanyahu wil have been proven to have made the right decisions, and avoided the wrong ones, by maintaining a level head when others would have taken irresponsible, unnecessary risks. Netanyahu loves to use the word “responsible” when describing his actions, and inactions.

But what if this scenario does not unfold? If Israel does find that it stands alone, will Israel truly stand up to Iran, as he thundered from the podium?

In this context, the analogy Netanyahu has drawn to the Purim story, and the parallel between modern day Iran and ancient Persia, creates discomfort.

While it is true that, like Haman in Shushan, Iran's leaders seek to annihilate Israel – the rest of the comparison is problematic. The leader of Persia was King Ahasuerus. It was he whom the Jews – led by Esther, and behind the scenes, by Mordechai – sought to convince not to heed Haman's genocidal advice. This was a great feat of lobbyism, even if it required Esther to compromise her virtue to save her nation.

But do we really want to compare ourselves, in 2015, to these ancient lobbyists in the court of the Persian empire?

We are, after all, not a stateless vassal nation inside an empire. We are an independent country. We have our own military, and its capabilities for wreaking destruction, at the moment, are far greater than those of Iran. Experts are unanimous in saying that our military options, in the face of threats of annihilation, range from attempts to destroy nuclear facilities with conventional weapons, to the use of our own unconventional weapons, such as they are.

But weapons are one thing, and the readiness to use them is something quite different, as we learned most recently in Operation Protective Edge, and as we see daily in the way soldiers and civilians are prevented from defending themseves from Arab terror attacks.

What kind of deterrence do we project when we are afraid to annihilate Hamas mortars, even as they shell our own civilians, because some court somewhere might indict us for it? Look at the terrorist who was caught alive after stabbing a Jewish man in Jerusalem ten days ago, strutting proudly down the street with police accompaniment. Is this what an enemy captive is supposed to look like, moments after he attempted murder?

Who seriously believes that the same Israel that puts its own soldiers on trial for shooting terrorists, would be bold enough to launch an attack on nuclear facilities, if the attack could cause a radioactive cloud to be released – not to mention the actual use of unconventional weapons by Israel?

Dare we launch an operation that would involve the risk of large-scale death in Iran? Or is Iran safe in the knowledge that Israel's formidable arsenal is no more than a dummy threat, never to be used, even in the most extreme of circumstances?

The famous Talmudic precept says “when someone seeks to kill you – kill him first.” It does not say – “punish him economically” or even “destroy his weapon.” Are we willing to see Iranians die, maybe even many Iranians, so that Jews may live? It sure doesn't look that way.

“The David's Sling” anti-missile system notwithstanding, King David did not use his sling to break Goliath's sword. He used it to break Goliath's head.

Alas, Netanyahu has chosen the wrong costume to wear this Purim. We do not need him as Queen Esther, or even as Mordechai the Jew. We need a King David. Is that too much to ask?




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