Purim's moral clarity

The Book of Esther might seem like a fairytale, but it is a political book from which Europe and Australia could learn.

February 26, 2010 05:50
3 minute read.
kids 88 purim

kids 88 purim. (photo credit: )


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With each day’s new Dubai police revelations about the assassination of Hamas’s missile-importing murderer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the plot thickens and the circle of implication widens. Indeed, the swirling, improbable details of the Dubai drama are beginning to take on the feel of a Purim spiel.

There are the costumes: The assassins used fake beards and wigs and dressed up in tourist garb and tennis outfits.

There is the Persian connection: Mabhouh’s source of the arms he purchased for Gaza was Iran and, confusing the assertions of those who insisted only the Mossad could have carried out the hit, it emerged on Wednesday that at least two of the suspects in the assassination escaped by boat to Iran across the Persian Gulf.

There is even a Purim-esque closing of a circle: The man who plotted to kill the Jews lost his own life, while those who thwarted him got away unharmed – at least for the time being.

But if Britain, Ireland, Germany, France and now Australia have their way, those who stopped Mabhouh would and could be arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated for murder. Interpol’s Internet homepage features pictures of 11 of the 26-and-counting suspects on its “most wanted list” after they were “charged by UAE/Dubai authorities with coordinating and committing the murder of Palestinian national and Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.”

This European and Australian reaction to the events in Dubai is an instructive, and worrying, example of wrongheaded morality. While suspects in the Mabhouh killing are chased to the four corners of the world – and an Interpol official declared yesterday that any suspect who attempted to leave his or her country would immediately be arrested – Mabhouh, a self-confessed killer who boasted last year to Al-Jazeera about kidnapping and then murdering IDF soldiers Avi Sasportas and Ilan Sa’adon and who facilitated the smuggling of thousands of Iranian-made missiles into Gaza to be used against Israeli citizens, did not appear on Interpol’s list and traveled freely. Nor is it likely that the International Criminal Court or the UN Human Rights Council would have been willing to take action against Mabhouh for violating Israelis’ basic human rights by trying to destroy them.

But Dubai, in its clamor for the arrest of Mabhouh’s “murderers,” is receiving European support. Similarly, IDF officers who defend their country against Palestinian terrorism are liable to be arrested and charged for war crimes when traveling to Europe, while members of Hamas and of Fatah terror cells can often move unhindered from country to country.

FUZZY MORAL relativism is ravaging Europe and reversing long-accepted notions of truth and falsehood. Muslim terrorism is rationalized as a legitimate act of self-defense, while Israel is demonized and disparaged for its attempt to root itself in a particular history, language, legal system, cultural tradition and religious heritage. Meanwhile, Europeans are losing touch with their own distinctive cultural and national identities in the name of a vacuous multiculturalism.

In this intellectual atmosphere, it is not surprising that the Netherlands’ government coalition fell apart at the beginning of this week over irreconcilable differences on whether to extend its military mission against al-Qaida in Afghanistan. The country’s Labor Party, one of the main coalition partners, refused a NATO and Washington request to extend the mission. The collapse of the government is expected to result in the withdrawal of all 1,600 Dutch troops from south Afghanistan. Of particular concern is the possibility that the Dutch might drag with them wavering politicians in Germany, or in Canada, which is now scheduled to pull out its troops at the end of 2011.

THE BOOK of Esther, the centerpiece of the Purim holiday, might seem like a fairytale, but it is a quintessentially political book from which the Europeans and the Australians could learn.

Adrift in a sea of multiculturalism – Ahasuerus ruled 120 nations from India to Kush – the Jewish people overcame their enemy by maintaining a distinctive identity and culture which fostered unity. In a similar vein, Europeans, who are fighting a war of ideas, must strengthen their ties with their own culture and the values it represents if they are to resist the culture of destruction emblemized by Hamas, al-Qaida and other representatives of radical Islam, the avowed enemies of everything that is most admirable about the West.

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