It’s become fashionable in certain circles to say “the occupation” and Israel’s “right-wing” government are distancing liberal Jews from Israel. But a new edition of the Book of Esther published by the Conservative Movement’s Israeli wing offers a truer explanation for liberal discomfort with Israel. The new edition includes an introduction that seeks to explain parts of the story liberal Jews find problematic – first and foremost, the killing at the end. “We felt it was important to explain what happened in the context of that period,” the Israeli movement’s executive director, Yizhar Hess, said in a media interview last week. “For that reason, the introduction we’ve written takes both a loving and critical approach.” In short, such bloodshed would be unacceptable today, but norms were different then.Yet what Esther unambiguously describes is a war of self-defense against people seeking to annihilate the Jews, undertaken only after repeated efforts to avert the threat non-militarily failed. So if liberal Jews find the text problematic, either they’re not paying attention to what it actually says, or they’ve become so pacifist that any war, even one to preserve the Jews from annihilation, is unacceptable.