Purim will be celebrated Saturday night and Sunday here, as elsewhere in the world, except for walled cities such as Jerusalem, where Shushan Purim will be celebrated on Sunday night and Monday.
The story of Purim is one of a threat to the existence of the Jewish people, overcome against great odds because of the determined actions of Mordecai and Esther. God's name is not mentioned anywhere in the Megillat Esther. We are to understand, however, that God is present, working behind the scenes.
The lessons -- that we must trust in God, even when we cannot see his hand., and that we must act decisively on behalf of our people -- are of paramount importance today. It should not escape us that the story of Esther takes place in Persia, which is the modern Iran. Nor should we forget that Mordecai refused to bow down to the wicked Haman.
Today is a fast day: We fast just as Queen Esther and Mordecai fasted before she approached the king to ask him to save the Jews.
Then, after Shabbat comes the celebration, and the acts of charity and giving.
I do not expect to post again until Monday, at the earliest.
Here, I would like to pick up on yesterday's topic, as fuzzy as the larger picture remains. Will either Bennett and/or Lapid ultimately join the coalition? My crystal ball is foggy today, so I am unsure. Bennett is putting out mixed messages right now.
My gut tells me that ultimately he will, which (if the deal with Lapid holds) means Lapid will too. It is Bennett's perspective that concerns me, however. We need his nationalist voice in the government, if Netanyahu is to have a government.
Yesterday I wrote about reference to Livni as a fig leaf and her insistence that she will never play that role: If she finds Netanyahu is not serious about negotiations, she will leave, she says.
And so this is yet another scenario that I didn't describe yesterday. Maybe she WILL be out of there -- walking away in no time at all.
And...it is still possible that if neither Bennett nor Lapid signs on for the coalition, that Netanyahu may have to throw up his hands and say he has no government. An incredible prospect in light of his reputation (badly tarnished at this point) as a very savvy politician.
But, in all honesty, a prospect that might not be bad in light of the latest rumor I've picked up: I'm being told that Netanyahu has offered Mofaz -- with TWO mandates -- the Ministry of Defense. An impeccably reliable source was said to have confirmed this. We'll see in due course.
Moshe Arens has written a piece on Israel's persistent and deluded hope that it might be possible to make peace with the Palestinian Arabs, "Vain hope springs eternal."
In this article he explores the various reasons why Israelis keep coming back to this notion, and what the repeated failures have been.
"And so it went, one disappointment after another. As the saying goes, 'Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.' Israel has been fooled not once, not twice, but at least five times in a quest for peace that has gone nowhere."
Now says Arens, "Abbas is not capable of fulfilling the two basic requirements Israel would demand in any agreement involving significant territorial concessions: First, that the agreement would constitute the end of the conflict and that no further Palestinian demands would be made of Israel. And second, that the territories ceded would not become bases for terrorist activities against Israel." (Emphasis added)
I alluded obliquely yesterday to Livni's prior role as negotiator with the Palestinian Arabs. She served that role when Ehud Olmert was prime minister and conducted talks with PA negotiator Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala'a). In 2008, Qurei praised Livni for insisting that Jerusalem had to be kept on the table in negotiations:
"There can be no peace without Jerusalem. How can the Palestinians agree to such a peace? If you want peace, you have to put Jerusalem on the table. [Livni] didn't say she would give up Jerusalem, but she will leave it on the table."
Now there have been charges by Bennett with regard to her readiness to give up Jerusalem, which charges she denies, saying she safeguarded the city.
But the final point here is that even with a prime minister more receptive to making enormous compromises, she was not able to pull it off.
Where Israel is likely headed right now, when all this talk is done, is not to the negotiating table, but to a new intifada. I've been reporting for some time now on increased violence by Palestinian Arabs -- most recently, it has been violence that broke out during demonstrations for the release of hunger-striking prisoners. That violence has continued intermittently.
On Tuesday, Kadoura Fares, a Fatah official, said that there will be increased violence if the four hunger striking prisoners are not released immediately.
"Sometimes the fire starts out small and expands to a large inferno," he said. He sought to imply in his statement that they don't want trouble, but sometimes emotions just get the better of them.
In reality, the PA has been milking the prisoner issue as a way to pressure and delegitimize Israel. Not to mention, as an excuse for upping the violence.
The last intifada was supposed to have started spontaneously when Ariel Sharon went up the Temple Mount -- as if Jews have no right to be there, and the presence of a Sharon there so upset Muslims that they went wild. The fact of the matter is that the violence had been planned beforehand by Arafat, and that he was merely waiting for a pretext. I have documented evidence on this.
So what is the situation now? Is the plight of the prisoners meant to be another pretext?
There are two issues that the Palestinian Arabs are protesting. One is the fact that Samer Issawi (their "celebrity" prisoner) and Ayman Sharawna were picked up after having been released in the Shalit exchange and re-arrested for breaking the terms of their release agreements.
But then there are two others -- Tareq Qaadan and Jafar Azzidine -- who are in prison under administrative detention. And I think it's important to clarify what this means. These men have not been charged in court and sentenced. Their imprisonment, for a specific period of time only, was approved by a court, after having received information on their actions/connections/plans.
Israel is not a country where people are thrown into prison on a whim and the key thrown away. There is strict judicial oversight in cases such as these. And there are solid reasons why the situation has to be handled this way:
We are, quite simply, at war. To try some of these terrorists might mean exposing contacts or methods of securing information, perhaps putting people at risk or creating the inability to secure further important information. And so, the court is provided with classified information and makes a decision. If these guys are in prison, there is a reason.
Other information confirms the likelihood of more Arab violence:
"A senior IDF officer warned Thursday morning during an interview on Army Radio that army analysts believe it is likely the PA will choose to launch an intifada over returning to the negotiating table for final status talks with Israel.
"The officer, who serves in the regions of Judea and Samaria, said Thursday in an interview on Army Radio that soldiers are currently training to deal with four-week confrontation scenarios."
And then this last piece of information on Palestinian Arab violence:
Tekoa is a community in Gush Etzion, not far outside of Jerusalem. Once upon a time, the road into Tekoa was dangerous, as it made its way past Arab villages. But in recent years, with the construction of a new road, the way was considered safe. That is, until last night.
People I know and care about were in a vehicle travelling on that road, when Arabs threw large rocks at the car. Only because the windshield had been reinforced were they saved from a lethal situation -- the window broke into spiderweb-like cracks but did not shatter inward.
I have now learned that there were other cars on the road that were attacked at the same time.
The Arabs are becoming bolder and more lethal.
What I tremble to anticipate is that in the run-up to Obama's visit, we'll do "confidence building" gestures such as letting terrorists out of prison, or cutting back on checkpoints. When instead (forgive my political incorrectness) we should be breaking a few heads. They have to fear us.
After Purim, I will want to look in more detail at recent evidence of world-wide involvement in terrorism of Iran and Hezbollah. But for now, enough. More than enough.
I look forward to my grandchildren in costume, and to the Purim meal (seudah) and a great deal more.
Chag Purim Sameach!
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.