Purim 2012: Obama, Israel, and Iran

By Alan Caruba via Tea Party Nation

President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minis...

On the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar (a lunar calendar), Jews around the world will celebrate Purim. This year it begins at sunset on Wednesday, March 7 and concludes the following day. If I was an Iranian ayatollah, I would be worried.

Like Passover that celebrates the liberation of Jews, their exodus from Egypt in the days of the pharaoh, Purim celebrates a victory over the evil prime minister of the Persian empire ruled by King Ahasuerus. Haman was the archetype anti-Semite and, as the story of Esther relates, he was angered by the refusal of Mordechai, the leader of the Jews, to bow to him. Haman convinced the king to issue a decree for the extermination of all the Jews on 13 Adar.

At various points in Jewish history, leaders, prophets, and fate—some would call it God’s intervention—have occurred to protect Jews from those who hate them and seek their destruction. In the case of Purim, it happened that the king had ordered the death of his wife, Vashti, who had failed to follow his orders. He held a beauty contest to find a new bride and Esther was chosen. She soon found favor with him, but she had prudently not revealed that she was Jewish.

When the Jews faced extermination, however, she invited the king and Haman to join her for a feast where she revealed she was Jewish to save her people. Haman was hanged and Mordechai was appointed the prime minister in his stead. A new decree was issued, granting the Jews the right to defend themselves and, on the 13th of Adar, they dispatched many of their enemies. On the 14th, they rested and celebrated.

Among Jews is a joke, a lighthearted parody of grace before dining that goes “They tried to kill us. They didn’t. We won. Let’s eat.”

Given the events of this week as the President spoke to the convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), followed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the fate of Israel again hangs in the balance due to the repeated threats of annihilation by the Iranian regime and the prospect of their acquiring nuclear weapons. Both leaders stressed their opposition to this. Both stressed it was not just a threat to Israel, but to the entire world.

The ayatollahs would be wise to read the “Megillah”, the scroll of Esther, an integral part of the celebration of Purim. Reportedly, Netanyahu give Obama a copy when they met to discuss the Iranian threat.

Netanyahu’s speech stressed the right of the sovereign nation of Israel to defend itself and the President’s speech affirmed that Israel has the right to defend itself “by itself” while promising that “I have your back.”

In a Wall Street Journal commentary, “The ‘Jewish’ President”, columnist Bret Stephens cast great doubt over Barack Hussein Obama’s trustworthiness. “Here is a president who fought tooth-and-nail against the very sanctions on Iran for which he now seeks to reap political credit. He inherited from the Bush administration the security assistance to Israel he now advertises as proof of his ‘unprecedented’ commitment to the Jewish state.”

“His defense secretary has repeatedly cast doubt on the efficacy of a U.S. military option against Iran even as the president insists it remains ‘on the table.’ His top national security advisers keep warning Israel not to attack Iran even as he claims not to presume to tell (Israeli leaders) what is best for them.”

Stephens cites a book by Peter Beinart, due out next month, called “The Crisis of Zionism.” Chapter five is titled “The Jewish President.” Beinart points out that Obama’s views about Israel have been shaped by his friends Rashid Khalidi and former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Beinart warns that Obama’s views were shaped as well by “a coterie of far-left Chicago Jews who ‘bred in Obama a specific, and subversive, vision of American Jewish identity and of the Jewish state.’”

“…But the important question here isn’t about American-Jewish attitudes toward Israel,” concludes Stephens, “It’s about the president’s honesty…On the evidence of Mr. Beinart’s sympathetic book, Mr. Obama’s speech at AIPAC was one long exercise of political cynicism.”

If a March 5 Debka File report is accurate, then the President has “decided to let Israel have weapons systems suitable for long-range military operations and strikes against fortified underground targets. They include four KC-35 aerial refueling aircraft, doubling the number already in the Israeli Air Force’s inventory, and GBU-31 Direct Attack Munition-JDAM bombs of the type which serve U.S. bombers, especially those based on aircraft carriers.”

So we are left to sort through the text of AIPAC speeches and other scraps of information to determine the future. The Debka File report appears to signal a change of attitude toward Iran after three years of fruitless and humiliating efforts to open negotiations with that nation.

After three years, Obama has had a challenging learning curve to disabuse him of his beliefs regarding Islam and the Middle East. He entered the White House with some serious reservations about Israel that have been reflected in his prior behavior toward the Jewish state.

His administration has committed as many, if not more, grave errors of political correctness regarding the Islamic war on the West than Carter’s or Clinton’s. The Obama administration made it known that there would no longer be any reference to the global war on terror, substituting “overseas contingency operations” in its stead. The brutal Fort Hood attack was not labeled an Islamic massacre but rather “workplace violence.”

Obama has learned that pretending that Islamo-fascists either don’t exist or don’t mean what they say does not solve the problem. To his credit, he authorized the killing of bin Laden and the drone attack on al Qaeda’s Anwar Awlaki, the mentor to the Fort Hood killer.

The leading supporter of terrorism, however, remains Iran, formerly known as Persia.

For Jewish and Christian Americans the greatest delusion about the Islamic war for world domination is the self-delusion that it is not really happening. As they celebrate Purim 2012, the Israelis harbor no such thoughts.

For more read here.

The Triumph of Christianity–A Historical Perspective

By Alan Caruba

“By far the most important event in the entire rise of Christianity was the meeting in Jerusalem in around the year 50, when Paul was granted the authority to convert Gentiles without them also becoming observant Jews.”

So wrote Rodney Stark, the Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences and co-director of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University. His most recent book is “The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World’s Largest Religion” ($27.99, HarperCollins).

For Christians in particular, I recommend it if only because so many have a tenuous grasp of Christianity’s real history, as opposed the versions that too often are casually accepted as truth.

The truth is that the rise of Christianity is one of the most extraordinary stories of the past two millennia. Stark not only has the knowledge of his vast subject, but he writes with such felicity that it is hard to put the 500-page book aside for both its revelations and its devotion to the facts.

Despite the fact we live in a society that has at most only 4% who self-describe themselves as atheists, the more active among them have the audacity to demand that Christmas be banished to the privacy of homes or the pews and pulpits of churches. They rebuke religion in general as the source of conflict and wars, but ignore the spiritual support and ethical lessons that Christianity provides along with its promise of salvation.

While Judaism was the bedrock of morality and faith that gave it birth, Christianity made it more accessible and significantly includes the Torah as part of its liturgy.

To ignore the rise of Christianity is to be ignorant of an essential element of Western history. Likewise, to ignore the threat of Islam whose beginning is usually dated around 622 CE and which exploded following Mohammad’s death in 632 CE is to ignore the greatest threat to civilization, past and present. Less a religion than a battle plan for world conquest, Islam preaches death to all “unbelievers.” Take heed!

Stark provides a summation to his book and, even so, I shall select only parts of it in the interest of brevity.

“The first generation of the Jesus Movement consisted of a tiny and fearful minority” of a religion, Judaism, that had already been around for a thousand years or more before the assertion was made that the messiah had come and was a crucified Galilean rabbi who mainly and briefly preached in that area of Israel.

“The mission to the Jews was quite successful: large numbers of Jews in the Diasporan communities outside of Palestine did convert to Christianity.” The Diaspora were the Jewish communities in the Middle East and throughout the Mediterranean nations, including Rome, living in places where pagan faiths were dominant.

“Christianity was not a religion based on the slaves and lowest classes of Romans, but was particularly attractive to the privileged.” Moreover, in its earliest years, women often played important roles. Contrary to popular belief, however, “Paganism was not quickly stamped out, but disappeared very slowly.” Paganism involved the worship of multiple gods as well as a belief in magic.

Despite impressive cathedrals, in medieval times church worship among Christians was largely ignored and, as often as not, the clergy were ill-informed about the faith and sometimes not even baptized.

Despite what is said of the Crusades, they were a campaign to reclaim the holy land from Muslims who had conquered it and they were led by men who knowingly bankrupted themselves and often died in this cause. Though Christianity had been widely observed in the East, the armies of Islam destroyed all but remnants, thus shifting its survival to Europe in the West.

“Science arose only in the West because efforts to formulate and discover laws of nature only made sense if one believed in a rational creator.” Even the misnamed “Dark Ages” were actually times of technological development. Likewise historians have determined that the Spanish Inquisition was “a quite temperate body that was responsible for very few deaths and saved a great many lives by opposing the witch hunts that swept through the rest of Europe.”

Perhaps the greatest surprise was the damage done by Constantine who, having made it the religion of his empire, gave rise to an indolent and hypocritical Church hierarchy initially composed of Roman aristocracy. It fostered a clergy who were ignorant of the faith and indifferent to its mission. Not until the Reformation was competition introduced, forcing the Church to return to piety, as various Protestant sects emerged, and energized Christianity in the process.

Stark concludes that “The claim that religion must soon disappear as the world becomes more modern is nothing but wishful thinking on the part of academic atheists. Religion is thriving, perhaps as never before. More than forty percent of the people on Earth today are Christians and their number is growing more rapidly than that of any other major faith.”

And that, as they say, is the good news.