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Posted on on March 21st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Modern Purim thoughts include the UN.

Purim is the day when Jews remember the plans made by Haman to eradicate all the Jews of the old Persian empire. He did not succeed and paid with his life – as we say – the rest is history.

Jews were ordered to remember what happened then – so they read that story – the Megillah (the parchment of Esther) – year after year – on the evening before Purim. This year it happened on Thursday, March, 20th – so last night we participated at the “Megillah Madness” – at The New York Synagogue in Manhattan – led by Rabbi Marc Schneier.
The celebration was at very high tone and at serious decibels – this to the sound and projections of the Beatles Music and the noise of the traditional “grogger” rattles. Each time the name Haman is read – and this happens 54 times during the readings – mayhem brakes lose and the costumed servers came forth to bring us delicious Haman’s Ears (“Oznei Haman” in Hebrew – staffed with marmalade or poppy seeds), or glasses of sweet whisky spiked drinks. Purim is in effect an annual of catharsis, healthy for the mind and the soul. Quite nice when all you are supposed is to remember evil, so you are better prepared when it strikes again. You see, Purim does in effect obligate today the State of Israel to the UN mandate of: “The Principle to Protect.”

On Purim, the Jewish Jockers are used to run a competition for the coveted “Haman of the Year Award” and this year’s two top candidates were two heads of UN Member States who appear daily on the UN menu: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir of the Sudan. The former attacks Jews verbally every day, and has also sponsored militants that fight Jews and Israel daily, while the latter was reportedly actually engaged in genocide against less Arabized Africans of Darfur. has posted many times articles on above deeds. We even tried to understand the background of the genocide in Darfur by considering climate change aspects as an influence on what started the warfare. But whatever the reasons, it is the government of Khartoom that backed its favorites. We see here fights between intruding, more Arabized, pastoralists against lesser Arabized, and blacker, agriculturalists. Our claim was that this is genocide that was started by increased desertification in the region. The UN as an institution did not want to hear such arguments, and eventually it took Sir Nicholas Stern, and the intervention of the UK government at the UN Security Council, to vindicate last year what we were saying three years ago. Whatever the issue, it was al-Bashir’s responsibility “TO PROTECT” his citizens. Instead he puts hurdles before those from the outside that came to help.
The UN Security Council has had Darfur on its agenda for five years, and the genocide continues. But the Council spends disproportionately more time considering Israel’s actions with various UN diplomats berating Israel for defending itself vigorously.
Our “Haman of the Year Award” goes to President al-Bashir. If his enemies don’t get him, the UN has established an International Criminal Court and we wonder why was it not invoked yet in the matter of Sudan’s actions in Darfur. Our website described last week how Dr. al-Bashir let UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wait for him in Dakar, and never showed up for the meeting claiming a headache.

Happy Purim – and I would like to note further that this year Purim falls on the same day as Good Friday – or Easter Friday. This has happened only the second time since 1910.

Easter occurs on the Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox, and that full moon usually coincides with the first day of Passover. That is how both religions – Judaism and Christianity have the renewal holidays aligned. This year this is not the case, and the reason is that it is leap year in the Jewish calendar, and an added month (a 13-th month) has been introduced. That brings instead the strange alignment between Easter and Purim. We would like to see in this an opportunity for healing – in the sense that we could say changes could be introduced so that Haman-type of hatred is removed from our lives – our society gets renewed like at Passover time, though this is Purim time. Would it be so terrible to ask the UN to consider this proposition of making sure that evil is remembered and actually acted against?

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