Persia, Iran, Haman and Khamenei
Once again our annual commemoration of Purim is taking place and its relevance for today could not be clearer…writes Michael Kuttner.One of the holiday’s customs is to wear fancy costumes and a mask. Dressing up in unusual clothes and hiding one’s face behind a mask has a deeper meaning than is apparent at first glance. It in fact epitomises the very essence of our historical experiences of which Purim is a classic example.
Then as today Jews faced hate and enmity in two forms. The first, openly displayed by leaders and opinion makers laid the groundwork for intended massacres. The second hid true intentions behind a mask of intrigue and deceit. Nothing much has changed over the intervening period of time which proves the statement in Kohelet Ecclesiastes) that “there is nothing new under the sun.”
Recognising true intentions when it is masked by clever language and seemingly innocent actions is a challenge which unfortunately many have still not mastered. An open and honest declaration of intention at least gives one the opportunity to devise counter strategies. Once the masked intentions of Haman were revealed it galvanised Mordechai, the leader of the Jewish community in the Persian Capital City, to plan and execute action. It was his bold leadership which bolstered the resolve of a wavering and fearful community to stand up and act before the genocidal plans could be implemented.
When Hitler published Mein Kampf and made his intentions clear, unfortunately very few took him seriously. Those that did were criticised for generating unnecessary panic and exaggerating something which in their assessment had no chance of being implemented. This vacillation on the part of Jewish leadership inevitably caught on with political leaders in democratic countries and therefore apart from Churchill the declared programme of Jew hatred was not taken seriously. Inevitably by the time the deniers woke up it was too late. In the late 1930’s, Jabotinsky the leader of the Zionist Revisionist Movement toured Poland and urged Jews there to flee for their lives before disaster engulfed them. His exhortations were ignored and condemned. We all know the results.
If leaders and communities alike refuse to act when open hate and incitement hits them in the face how much more dangerous is the situation when those who have nefarious designs against Jews hide their true intention behind a mask of civility?
Those in Europe today who are bearing the brunt of a rising tide of legitimisation and incitement and who prefer to pretend that it will all blow over are treading the same dangerous path as was taken pre war. Fascist type political parties are springing up all over Europe. Their ostensible policy is to counter Islamic terror and the uncontrolled immigration of people from Islamic countries. In many cases, at least for now, the fight against terror and demographic suicide takes priority. Any sort of anti-Jewish hate is cleverly masked by expressions of solidarity with Jews and the Jewish State. Some are more successful than others in denying any forms of Judeophobia although if one looks closely enough at the Baltic countries and some Eastern European States the ominous signs are emerging from the political undergrowth.
The left-wing parties are generally no better. Their masks barely conceal a visceral hatred for the Jewish State and everything it stands for. In fact in many countries the hatred of Israel by left wing politicians exceeds that exhibited by reviled conservative groups.
The next few weeks and months will demonstrate whether European voters have had enough of the hypocritical established parties and will swing their support instead behind the multitude of nationalistic and often xenophobic groups now offering themselves to the electorate. One of the problems is that these ultra right-wing parties openly express an admiration for and support of Israel in its fight against the very hate and terror threatening Europe. How to distinguish between genuine friendship and masked intentions is the challenge we face these days. Do we support policies which on the one hand fight terror and on the other hand ban the wearing of kippot (skull caps) in public and the provision of kosher meat?
American Jews are facing an unprecedented wave of threats and cemetery desecrations. For many this has come as a rude awakening. Again we have various reactions ranging from denial to panic stricken behaviour. Fortunately the poison of Jew hatred is not quite as pervasive as in Europe but nevertheless the same toxicity against Israel inevitably spills over. It does not take much for the delegitimisation of Israel to mutate into denial of Jewish legitimacy with consequent results.
The most blatant example of open intentions is provided by the Iranian regime. Making no secret of its desire to see Israel eliminated from the landscape, the Mullahs of Tehran plot accordingly. Flush with funds provided by the Obama Administration and emboldened by a craven international community eager to do business, the development and testing of missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads proceeds apace. Apart from Israel and the USA nobody else is bothered. That is how history repeats itself.
Meanwhile back at the corrupt UN delegitimisation of Israel carries on. One of the methods used by Haman to prepare the ground for the genocide of Persian Jews was to spread hate, incitement and lies so that eventually it fell on fertile soil. The poisonous seeds germinated so that before long everyone from the Government to the masses believed that in their midst lived traitorous citizens. The same technique was used in Europe last century and is once again being employed to target the Jewish State.
A perfect example of how it works was unmasked this week by Honest Reporting. This is what they had to report:
A report in the Basel-based Basler Zeitung raises a lot of questions:
According to the report, since 2013, the Swiss government has funneled nearly $700,000 to a human rights office in Ramallah that has functioned as a front organisation, to avoid criticism by Western countries. The office is funded by Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden, and seeks to cover up the antisemitic work of its partner NGOs, the report said . . .
The Swiss government has not been transparent about whether their funding streams entail graft, the article said. In response to reports last year about alleged financial misconduct involving Middle East projects, the Swiss parliamentary body Bundesrat rejected a motion from MP Christian Imark in 2016 to ban taxpayer money for initiatives that spread “racism and antisemitism.”
It is a never-ending task to unmask the endless schemes against us as Jews and Israelis. Thank goodness these days we are in a position to foil and thwart such machinations. It however needs eternal vigilance and a determination to act in good time and with determination.
Michael Kuttner is a Jewish New Zealander who for many years was actively involved with various communal organisations connected to Judaism and Israel. He now lives in Israel and is J-Wire’s correspondent in the region.