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There is an ever-popular Israeli children's song which asks "Why can't every day be Shabbat?" Despite the plethora of songs about the upcoming holiday, nobody sings: "Why isn't it Purim every day?" It took the Lord Almighty six days to create the world. It could be destroyed in just one moment, with not so much a wave of a hand as a finger on The Button.
You can't blame the Jews for wanting to celebrate deliverance from the evil adviser to the king in ancient Persia. Although I'm sure there are those who will try. If such a story were to take place today, far from being strung up on his own gallows, Haman would probably have been feted in the UN and the Jews would been universally decried for upsetting such a powerful man in a strategic country - not to mention how our celebrating the end of the Purim story would be perceived. Let's just state for the record that although Hebrew-speakers call the traditional triangular-shaped Purim pastries oznei Haman, Haman's ears, none of the ingredients could be used to launch a blood libel. Just in case some enemy has run out of excuses.
Purim, that topsy-turvy holiday when nothing is as it seems, does indeed seem to be lasting all year long.
And while hutzpa might be a Yiddish word, Jews certainly don't hold the monopoly on it. Just last week, for example, Holocaust-denier David Irving reportedly sought a Hebrew publisher for his book.
THE HOLOCAUST, as we know, is a hot topic. Many have noted that while Israel seems doomed to fail to take home an Oscar from the Academy Awards, Shoah movies are a sure thing. Look at the irony of the role for which Kate Winslet finally won an Oscar. In The Reader Winslet plays a former concentration camp guard with a shameful secret: She's illiterate. Well, that certainly puts her war crimes in context. No wonder she aided the systematic murder of the People of the Book.
In another example of how back-to-front things are at the moment, while the major donors gathered in Sharm e-Sheikh pledged more than $4.4 billion to reconstruct Gaza, pupils in Ashkelon stayed at home and started a local fundraising drive to finance the fortification of classrooms. They were acting after a Grad missile - make that another Grad missile - slammed into a school in the city on Saturday, February 28. In a good reason to sing Shabbat's praises, fortunately it was not a school day and no one was hurt.
No wonder Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu told foreign leaders of his reservations about helping rebuild Gaza while missiles were still falling on Israel. Apart from the message it sends, it might be a complete waste of money if Israel is forced to take military action against the source of fire. Perhaps the generous benefactors could help fund shelters for Israeli schools if they're not going to stop the rocket fire.
And while we're on the subject of Gaza, don't those living outside the range of Grads consider it the slightest bit strange that Jewish settlements are considered an obstacle to peace while rebuilding missile launching sites is perceived as promoting it?
TO PROTEST the Israeli response to Hamas - whose record on human rights is worthy of a Purimspiel - academics in civilized countries are rallying against Israel. Pro-Palestinian activists, for example, condemned last week's science day events for high-school students in the UK examining the contribution of Israeli science to the world. If you want an idea of topsy-turvy values, look no further than what can be done in the name of academic freedom.
In an op-ed in the Post on March 3, Michael Bar-Zohar noted that a survey published last month by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center indicates that 46.7 percent of the Palestinians believe that Hamas defeated Israel in the recent fighting in Gaza. On a visit to Egypt many years ago, I was taken aback to discover how many places marked the October 6 War "victory." I am not, however, surprised that Egypt - which did nothing to improve life in Gaza during the decades in which it was in control - does not want anything to do with its Palestinian brethren there even now. Let Israel open its border with Gaza, Egypt can't risk it, goes the common thinking in the Egyptian capital.
The terror attack in Cairo a week ago, in which a French schoolchild was killed, shows yet again that they do have reason to fear Islamization. Global jihad is, after all, global. But don't say it too loudly in London or Paris - you might offend the local Muslims.
NOTHING IS SACRED anymore. A former Brit, I was shocked (though not surprised) by the deadly attack on Sri Lanka's cricket team in Pakistan. Terror is ... well, it's just not cricket. The International Cricket Council is now planning a meeting in Dubai to discuss the relocation of matches. That's Dubai that wouldn't let in Israeli tennis star Shahar Pe'er last month.
Even Israeli peace champions are not immune. Singers Achinoam Nini, known abroad as Noa - a well-known peace activist - and Israeli Arab Mira Awad have been blasted for agreeing to represent Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest. Their song is a call for peace with a refrain "There must be a better way." While you might have thought this was a good message, apparently it's not. The duo is being criticized for trying to present a false image of Israel. Of course anything positive is considered false by those who cannot consider a better way, only their own way.
A list of the topsy-turvy should also include that arch-terrorist Samir Kuntar, released from Israel to Hizbullah last year as part of the exchange in which we received the bodies of kidnapped soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, has just got married. Kuntar is responsible, among other things, for the deaths of a policeman and a father and his two young daughters in Nahariya in 1979. He beat the four-year-old to death on the beach; the mother accidentally smothered the two-year-old trying to keep her quiet while they hid.
We left the security zone in Lebanon and got missiles. We left Gaza - even removing Jewish cemeteries - and got missiles. And now the US administration is stressing that "you can't underestimate the importance of the Syrian track." You can guess what we will happen if we leave the Golan Heights, even if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton can't. Aren't we all relieved that Turkey now feels it can again mediate between Jerusalem and Damascus in good faith? Next thing you know, they'll have made peace with Armenia.
And for all those calling on Israel to stay out of Gaza, I'll just say: Do your bit to make sure the last soldier there - Gilad Schalit - is released. We're not the ones keeping him there.
A LOOK AT Israeli politics also gives the impression of a constant Purim parody. Labor leader Ehud Barak, who innitially professed a role to play in the opposition, was later seeking a ministerial seat as if building a government were a game of musical chairs. Tzipi Livni, who swore she could get a coalition together, then had trouble persuading current ministers why they should return to the opposition benches. And Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman - whose diplomatic skills are infamous - is set for the position of foreign minister. You might not remember him saying the Egyptian president "could go to hell" but you can bet that Hosni Mubarak and the Arab world haven't forgotten.
On the other hand, in the Purim spirit, maybe that could somehow be translated as a victory.