This year's Purim carnival set off more than firecrackers in Israel
JERUSALEM — Like clockwork, Israel's streets were taken over by myriad ballerinas, pirates and drag queens celebrating the Biblical holiday of Purim on the full moon of Adar, the last month of the Hebrew calendar. Many Israelis flocked to synagogues in costume to hear the story of Jewish redemption from a planned genocide in ancient Persia, recounted in Biblical book Esther.
The Purim spiel is interrupted by noisy bells and whistles, and even firecrackers, each time the name of the villain Haman is read.
While every year's celebration is raucous, if not drunken, this year Purim fell on Mar. 20-21, two weeks before the country's April 9 general election. Many could not resist the temptation to satirize and ridicule the country's leaders. The English-language daily The Jerusalem Post ran its annual Purim spoof, The Jerusalem Roast, featuring an article that the Central Elections Committee announced that the election will be held on April Fools' Day "in recognition that Israel's democratic form of government is a joke."
Similarly, satirical news reported that “Donald Trumpet” [sic] had recruited “Netanyoohoo” [sic] as his running mate in 2020.
While Israelis, many of whom don't take the country's politics too seriously, thought the faux-ad was a clever jab, some people - particularly foreign journalists who do not understand spoken Hebrew or Israeli culture, misinterpreted the humor as proof of the wicked ways of the Israeli right, and the country in general.
Some Leftists also failed to get the joke, which they misunderstood as a leading Right-wing politician’s supposed disregard for democracy.
Responding to the buzz that Shaked’s political spoof inspired in Israel and abroad, the justice minister said that the left can’t take a joke. “It is a nice clip aimed at the liberal left that has for years called me a fascist but keeps losing the elections,” she said, the Times of Israel reported.
Meanwhile, a pox on the sourpusses who can’t take a joke. And stay tuned for the results of the April 9 general election, when Israelis will be laughing at themselves.
Perhaps the biggest Purim joke came from Washington, DC on Mar. 21, when U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted:
“After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!”
His tweet upended years of US policy, and surprised members of his own Middle East peace team, the State Department and Israeli officials, according to McClatchy news service.
“We all found out by tweet,” an Israeli official was quoted as saying. “We’ve been lobbying for this for a long time, but it was not the product of one phone call. There were hints, but we weren’t given advance notice.”
Israel seized the Golan Heights, a 400-square mile expanse, from Syria in 1967 during the Arab-Israeli war. The United Nations has always rejected Israel’s occupation of the area.
Syria slammed Trump’s move, calling it “irresponsible” and that it “confirms “the blind bias of the United States to the Zionist entity.”
Syria’s state news agency SANA quoted a senior Foreign Ministry source as saying Syria would recover the Golan Heights “through all available means” and that Trump’s move wouldn’t change “the fact that the Golan was and will remain Arab and Syrian.”
All of which is to say that in the Trump White House, every day is Purim.