Jewish World Review March 17, 2003 / 13 Adar II, 5763

Patterns in time? Purim, war and perspective

By Yaffa Ganz -- The original Gulf War took place twelve years ago, in the month of Adar, before the holiday of Purim. Once again, twelve years later, in the month of Adar, before Purim, which begins tonight, we are facing a second, strange, Kafka-esque global confrontation in the same place. Even the characters are repetitious: Saddam Hussein and President Bush Junior in place of his father, President Bush Senior.

The rabbis tell us that the original Purim story also took place over a period of twelve years, so perhaps this second act in the Gulf War will see the happy end of our own contemporary story and the emergence of our own Purim Miracle.

The following article was written on the eve of the first Gulf War, twelve years ago. It is uncannily repetitive and accurate on the eve of the second. Although the issue in 1991 was the invasion of Kuwait and in 2003 it is the global danger posed by Hussein's weaponry, Israel and the "Palestinian" issue is still an explosive ingredient in the global stew.

Given more prominence the first time round, there is no doubt that the tiny State of Israel will easily be the world's first scapegoat this time round as well. Note the vehemence with which both England and even the U.S., while in the midst of planning massive destruction to "save the world" from Iraq, have in the past few weeks come down hard on Israel for its supposed killing of "innocent Arab civilians" in the West Bank and Gaza. Obviously protecting Americans and Englishmen from Hussein is more vital than protecting Israeli Jews from Palestinians. This, too, is part of the ancient story of Purim. And please G-d, this too will end quickly, unexpectedly and well. But to return to 1991 and the beginning ......

On the eve of war, 1991

We are sitting here waiting for the world's most advertised war to begin. Incredible doesn't begin to describe it.

For six months, President Bush [Note: reference is to Bush Senior] has been announcing, explaining, warning, giving deadlines, and announcing again. The last deadline came and went a few minutes ago and everything is set up, in place, being carefully recorded, televised, covered and instantly advertised. Whoever planned such a war before? Whoever gave the enemy such an exact, detailed description down to the last nut, bolt, soldier, tank and second of strike?

America, so it says, is fighting for world order and justice. But she is the one who armed Iran to the hilt when the Shah was in power. And when he died, Khoumeni was able to fight Iraq for eight years with America's weapons. During which time America armed Iraq to the hilt with more and better goodies because it was determined that Iraq was now a fellow defender of world order and justice. And now that Iraq has turned colors and has had the audacity to do that which all hungry powers have always done when only they could, America now finds itself on the same side of the fence with a new friend - Syria ... world capital of terror, terrorism and brutality.

The world is trembling, just like the catastrophic descriptions of the End of Days. The disruptions are global. Emergency preparations are on a national scale. Armies are on the move. Borders are masses of troops and tanks and destructive equipment, poised and ready to bring death and destruction in the name of defense. The entire Middle East is in an uproar. Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Israel, the entire Gulf, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait. Millions and millions of people are involved, their lives disrupted.

But wait! There is a glimmer of hope, a possible way out of all this horror! France, bastion of fair handed righteousness and justice, has found the magic key. If only Israel, that eternal rock of contention, can be offered up once again as a sacrifice, the G-d of War will surely relent. Iraq can then retreat just enough to let America off the warpath and save its honor, and in return it will receive the mantle of Arab leadership and global gratitude. Finally, an international conference (read: force) under the guise of an objective, efficient United Nations will deal with that problem of all problems, the root source of all the world's troubles, the one issue that makes everything else pale in comparison - the State of Israel.

Apartheid in South Africa, horrors in India & Pakistan, Cyprus, & Greece, the Soviet Union & Lithuania, the terror in Columbia, starvation in Africa, Aids.... what are these issues when compared to the enormity of the "Palestinian problem"! That a tiny section of the mammoth Arab people should be even partially displaced (if they are displaced, which is highly questionable) by the Jewish people on an even tinier piece of land (which the Jewish people do happen to have a few claims to) is evidently a crime of such enormity that the conscience of the world cannot rest. If only the Palestinian issue can be resolved and Israel made to understand that it lives in this world only on condition of approval, then even an ego as large and maniac as Saddam Hussein's can be appeased. He might even agree to retreat, shake hands and rejoin the honorable family of nations on a firm, friendly basis. Allah be blessed.

Now lest you think that such a sacrifice is in America's interests, it might be worth your while to consider the following questions.

If anyone at all cares about Iraq having taken over Kuwait, it should be the Europeans who derive such large portions of their oil from the oligarchy of Kuwait. And seeing as how it's the Europeans who are so much closer to the area of danger, you'd think they'd be the ones who were out there making a scandal and a fuss. But no...America, half a world away; America which can manage without Kuwaiti oil, and probably even without Saudia Arabian oil (another friendly, enlightened, democracy, ruled by a modestly wealthy family or two) is the one with a quarter million soldiers sitting in the sand. Why?

Even assuming that a war were really in America's interests, why send 250,000 soldiers? Why won't 1000 planes suffice to blast Hussein and destroy his base of power? Because innocent people will suffer? They are going to suffer anyway if those soldiers go in there. And so will the American soldiers.

And if the war takes place as warned and planned and Hussein is wiped off the face of the earth, then what? Who rules Iraq? Syria? The rest of the Middle East? The head reels to even contemplate the unexpected and probably volatile changes which will ensue. Wise people do not cause widespread earthquakes without a bit of planning and trepidation. Is American wisdom intact? The rest of the world is not entirely convinced.

In fact, the head reels to contemplate any possible way out of this scenario. It's Kafka from the word go. Only one answer makes any sense at all. G-d is running this show. The hearts of kings are in the hands of G-d. He directs them as He sees fit. (See Proverbs, 21, 2)

Willingly or not, wittingly or not, and most likely unknowingly, America is about to fight a war which is primarily for Israel's defense. G-d chooses righteous men and nations to act as the agents of righteousness and blessing. The United States, despite its imperfections, is by far one of the most moral, praiseworthy countries in the world. Perhaps this is why it was Divinely granted the power and means to fight evil and create a better world.

We, the Jewish people, must understand the enormity of the hour and act accordingly. Perhaps we are standing on the threshold of Messianic days, where the old patterns of injustice and evil will cease to be, and where the good and the G-dly will take their rightful place.

May the G-d of all people steady the hand of the United States of America, keep it strong and true, and bless its people. If they are privileged to fight the war of godliness in this world, may they succeed - thoroughly, quickly and with the least possible amount of loss or pain.

And in 2003, may we add... Amen.

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JWR contributor Yaffa Ganz is the award-winning author of more than forty Jewish juvenile titles including the two-volume teen history "Sand and Stars --- A Jewish Journey Through Time" and the popular Savta Simcha Series. You may contact her by clicking here.


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© 2001, Yaffa Ganz