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Not That Holocaust Thing Again
Israel - Middle East
Friday, November 01, 2013
Alf Cengia

I often sit at my desk with no idea what to write. The process begins by reading through various news feeds and then brainstorming ideas. When the brainstorm inevitably fails, I pray. At other times I suspect that coincidences conspire to lead me down a certain track in my weekly columns.

Anyway, I felt led to touch upon the Holocaust again. Some will ask, "Hasn't this topic been done before ad nauseum?" To which my response is, "Yes it has and it should never be forgotten."

The subject grabbed my attention last week when I spotted a link to a video in which Rhonda Fink-Whitman interviewed several Pennsylvania public school graduates. She asked each one what they knew about WWII, the Holocaust and genocide.

To be honest, there were one or two details which I was vague about, but the students' overall ignorance was astonishing. In fact, this lack of knowledge by University students has been noted by others and is symptomatic of the Western Educational policies.

There are many websites which contain detailed information on the events surrounding the Holocaust. The Jewish Virtual Library is a great one. Note that the dynamics which brought about that tragedy were not only contingent to WWII. These factors have been around since Israel became a nation, thousands of years ago.

As fate (or whatever one prefers to call it) would have it, I also received another email from a Christian who I've been dialoguing with on a forum over the past two years. Simply put, he hates Jews and especially Israel. To paraphrase the litany of familiar grievances he's spouted during the course of our conversation:

"The Jews lost their rights to it because of disobedience to God and now they want to exterminate the Palestinians. The church is the New Israel; all the OT prophecies are spiritualized. The Jews exaggerated the Holocaust so that they could take Palestine from the Palestinians. Israel is the aggressor; therefore it has no right to defend itself."

But, just to cover all the bases, he also asserted that Israel was populated by descendants of the Khazars who were not really Jews to begin with. This myth has been thoroughly debunked though anti-Semites still cling to it. After all, whoever these Israelis really are, they should be hated because....well, because they claim to be Jews who shouldn't be there anyhow. Right?

Following that fiasco, I happened to hear Michael Rydelnik respond to a question on the radio. The caller wanted to know whether Christians are allowed to defend themselves or must they always turn the other cheek? Pacifists cite Matthew 5:39, yet Rydelnik noted the context in that case was that one should not trade insults with an aggressor. Moreover, while Jesus sent His disciples out throughout Israel with only a staff in Mark 6:8, He advised them to obtain a sword for their travels into the world (Luke 22:36).

If a Christian has a right to self defense; what about Israel? Strange you should ask.

Well, coincidentally, Pastor Alistair Begg's sermon on Sunday was on the story Queen Esther (Hadassah), her cousin Mordecai (a Benjamite), Haman (an Agagite and descendant of Esau) and the exiled Jews in the Persian kingdom. King Ahasuerus promoted Haman above all the princes, and the power went straight to the latter's head. When Mordecai refused to bow to him, Haman spat the dummy.

Instead of chastising Mordecai, Haman decided to exterminate all the Jews in the kingdom, in a carefully laid out plan. Haman told Ahasuerus that there were people (Jews) in the kingdom who wouldn't obey the king's laws. So the king gave him the authority to deal with the situation anyway he saw fit. Haman sent letters out to all the provinces to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews in a single day - the 13th of the 12th month - and plunder all their possessions. Sound familiar?

Fortunately, Mordecai got wind of the plan and clued Esther in. Meanwhile, the king promised Esther that he would fulfill any request, up to half his kingdom. She told him that she would reveal her request at an exclusive banquet, and then invited an ecstatic and privileged Haman to attend. He was so ebullient he organized a nice gallows to hang Mordecai on.

Needless to say, Haman wasn't aware of Esther's ethnic identity.

As it happened, the king couldn't sleep one night so he ordered the records of the Chronicles to be read to him. It must have been the Persian version of counting sheep. As they were read, the fact that Mordecai had once foiled a plan to lay hand on Ahasuerus came to the king's attention. He immediately resolved to reward Mordecai and summoned Haman to him for advice.

When asked by Ahasuerus how he should honor someone he delights in, Haman jumped the gun and thought Ahasuerus was referring to him. Haman promptly gave him his own long wish list. Oh, what a happy man he must have been - at least until he was subsequently informed to do these things for Mordecai.


At the banquet the king again pressed Esther for her request. In response, she petitioned the king that her life and that of her people be spared against her enemy: "for we have been sold, my people and I, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated." When the king inquired who that enemy was, Esther told him it was Haman. The king went into a fit of rage and took a stroll in the palace garden to calm down. Haman then threw himself at Esther begging for mercy. In the process, he accidentally fell across the same couch that Esther was on...just as the king walked back in.

Oops again!

Haman and his ten sons were hanged on the same gallows he had erected for Mordecai and on the same day that Haman had scheduled to annihilate the Jews. On that day the Jews were able to initiate a successful pre-emptive strike which lasted two days. Now there's a lesson for us!

Alistair Begg pointed out several things. One that stood out in my mind was that sometimes a pre-emptive strike is necessary as a defense. Another point was that even though God isn't mentioned in the book of Esther, his fingerprints are all over the story.

The Jews have had a history of existential threats and today is no different. Its neighbors have wanted to destroy modern Israel since 1948. Today nothing has changed except one of Israel's mortal enemies is seeking nuclear weapons.

I'm not advocating a pre-emptive strike by Israel on Iran or any other enemy nation. But it does have a right of defense and would be especially aware of that position given its history.

Thank God that he still has His hands on Israel.

Pre-emptive strike or not, no one will destroy it while there is a sun moon and stars (Jeremiah 31:31-37).


About Alf Cengia

Last week: Losing my Self

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