Thank You, Israel, for Lending Us Bibi
In the days ahead, Jews around the world will celebrate Purim, a festival the Bible directs us to remember, when the Jewish people were delivered more than 2,000 years ago in Persia (modern day Iran) from an evil anti-Semite --Haman -- who had manipulated the king into issuing a decree that would annihilate the Jews.
According to the biblical account, Esther, a Jew, and her cousin, Mordecai, who raised her, were the instruments of deliverance.
This Tuesday, just hours before the Purim holiday begins, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address the U.S. Congress, at the invitation of House Speaker John Boehner, to explain why his country cannot tolerate the threat from another group of evil anti-Semites in Iran to annihilate the Jews: the acquisition of nuclear weapons by the Ayatollah Khamenei and his government.
The city of Washington, as is its custom, has been buzzing for weeks about the political ramifications of the Netanyahu speech. Once again, it's all about them.
The Obama administration, failing to disguise its contempt for the prime minister, refuses to attend, calling the whole process of inviting him unseemly, coming just two weeks before Israel holds elections.
National Security Advisor Susan Rice, having seen no advance copy of the speech, calls it "destructive." Commentators and reporters poll and pontificate, as a few dozen lawmakers deliberate about whether to boycott an address by our closest and most reliable ally in the Middle East.
But millions of Americans, and others around the world will be grateful: to the nation of Israel, to Prime Minister Netanyahu, and to Speaker Boehner and the lawmakers of both parties who will welcome him.
They'll be grateful because they are hungry to hear the truth spoken at the highest levels of international discourse --thankful that at least one leader (there may be others; Canada's Stephen Harper comes to mind) is willing to speak the truth on the world stage when the spirit of hatred and murder is on the loose, radiating from the Middle East to every continent.
Who else has warned for more than a quarter century about the danger of putting nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran's Jew-and-Christian-hating theocracy?
Who but Netanyahu has taken on the kangaroo courts of the U.N. Human Rights Commission, which pounces on Israel after every conflict, but ignores real atrocities just miles away in the realm of Hamas and the battlefields of Syria, Iraq, and Iran?
Has another leader exposed the pretense behind the Palestinian Authority's celebration of terrorist suicide bombers and its goal to take all of Israel back in stages, while the West pumps billions of dollars into P.A. coffers?
Is there another head of state who musters the courage to tell smug, high-ranking American and European diplomats that it's not a crime for Jews to build apartments in their eternal capital?
Israelis may be irritated at their leader for his sometimes abrasive personality. They may be miffed that he plunged their country into elections and another round of endless advertisements and political wrangling.
Or they may think he's too hardline and is jeopardizing Israel's relationship with the United States or doesn't pay adequate attention to their country's social needs. Or all of the above. They will have an opportunity to render their verdict on March 17.
In the meantime, the gravity of the world situation and the daily reports of the persecution and murder of Christians and Jews has focused the attention of millions of Christians, as well as Jews, on what Netanyahu has to say. Many will pray and intercede, and others will fast, as Esther and her people did in biblical times.
We will pray for Israel, for Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel's leaders, for wisdom for our own leaders, and for discernment to navigate the dangerous waters ahead. Who knows whether, as in the days of Esther and Mordecai, the address wasn't appointed "for such a time as this."
Long after the political ebb and flow of the winter of 2015 is forgotten, the Netanyahu speech may well be remembered as one that defines the central conflict of the era. That makes his adversaries, no matter where they reside, uncomfortable.
So, thank you, Israel -- and "Hag Purim Sameach!" Happy Purim!