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Annapolis & Ahashverosh: The Party’s Over

Annapolis & Ahashverosh: The Party’s Over

Associate Editor

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Israel’s new foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman has taken some hits from the so-called, self-flattering peace camp for distancing Israel from the Annapolis conference — as if anyone on the planet still took Annapolis seriously. You might remember Annapolis as the “peace” festival in which Arab representatives would not even shake an Israelis hand, would not even walk through the same door as an Israeli. After the conference, which saw no peace camp protests on behalf of the Israeli captives, several hundred more rockets fell on Sderot.

It was arguably the most meaningless and cynical conference since Evian. (No, it was not in the same league as Evian, of course, few conferences could be.) Nothing came out of it but increased pressure on Israel alone. It was the low point in Condi Rice’s tenure. Annapolis was just one of many exhibits in the argument that Bush was hardly “the best friend Israel ever had.”

(The best president? I say Pierce, Polk or Rutherford B. Hayes. And can professional Jews give a rest to proclaiming every sitting president as “the best friend Israel ever had”?)

None of those abusive Arab representatives to Annapolis ever received the condemnation that Lieberman has for saying the conference was as useless and meaningless as it was.

In fairness to Israel and to Lieberman, who is on his way (with the consent and collaboration of the Jewish left) to being the most vilified and misrepresented Israeli foreign minister ever, here’s the complete text of what he actually said.

Please post a comment if you think he said even one thing that was wrong.

Rather than attack Lieberman for dismissing Annapolis, as so many have, the ADL praised Lieberman for reiterating Israel’s sincere and ongoing desire to pursue a real peace, while correctly pointing out that Israeli concessions for peace have only produced more extremism and violence on the other side.

Israel’s opposition parties, who fancy themselves the peace parties, have been too quick to fear that their endless partying, post-Oslo, is over with the ascent of Netanyahu and Lieberman. The peace camp, well meaning, to be sure, is too often driven by a pessimistic conviction that time is running out, that demographics and geo-politics are stacked against Israel, that Israel is so doomed that nothing can save her so she might as well enter a peace hospice. They seem to suggest that Israel’s only hope is to beg some peace-loving crocodile for a ride out of the swamp. No biting? Really, no biting says the American president on behalf of the crocodile. No, really, this time the crocodile means it. He even almost said so at Annapolis.

Jewish history may be ultimate test of one’s optimism or pessimism, but one way to increase one’s optimism is to subscribe to “Today In History” e-mails from Nissan 8, for example, was the day in 366 BCE that the seemingly endless festival of excess, hosted by Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush Achashverosh, came to an end (when Vashti and Ahashverosh went Virginia Wolff, and the guests started to say to each other, “Really, honey, I think we ought to leave.”)

While they’re leaving, here’s a great old honky-tonk goodnight from Willie Nelson to see ‘em out the door. Click the link and sing along.

“Turn out the lights, the party’s over, they say that all good things must end.

Turn out the lights, the party’s over, and tomorrow starts the same old thing again.”

Here’s why everyone partied in the first place: It turns out, according to tradition, that Achashverosh miscalculated the starting date of a prophecy that foresaw the rebuilding of Jerusalem after 70 years. When, according to that calculation, the 70 years ended and the Jews were still in exile, the king orchestrated an extravaganza to celebrate the end of Israel. (The end of Israel is still great conversation 2000 years later, as you can see with these covers of Atlantic Monthly and Time). During the course of the partying, Achashverosh displayed some of the spectacular objects taken from the Jerusalem Temple. It was a time when people figured that Jews were defeated, the stuff of museums.

And what does this have to do with anything, and wasn’t Purim a month ago? In fact, this has to do with everything, including the end of our own endless party. It’s a reminder that history, politics and economics play out over a longer time than it takes to celebrate, to mourn or to judge. The Purim Megillah can be read in less than an hour, the holiday celebrated in one day, but the actual story, from prelude to postscript, played out over years. On the eve of the seders in 366 BCE, here’s where things stood: An unthoughtful, impulsive, anti-Israeli hedonist was king of 127 provinces, essentially the region’s greatest threat, like its direct descendant, Iran; Haman, a more thoughtful anti-Semite, was that king’s most trusted adviser; Jerusalem was in ruins, its end celebrated; and Esther-Hadassah was just one more beautiful Jewish girl who wasn’t happy with any of the Jewish guys to whom she was surely being fixed-up, as the Master of the Universe kept hardening her heart when it came to love. God had other things in mind for that girl.

On that day, none of them knew the end of the story, or even what the real story was.

On this day, neither do we.

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