Photo Credit: Avi Ohayon / GPO
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prays at the Western Wall ahead of his speech next week at the US Congress. (archive / Feb 28, 2015)

Thousands of years ago, an evil man from Persia rose up and promised to destroy the Jews. Esther, a young Jewish woman, and her wise uncle Mordechai saved the day and the Jews of Shushan and beyond. The evil man and his plan were revealed. The king ordered the evil man to die; decreed that the Jews not be murdered.

The timing, the analogy…all that went with Benjamin Netanyahu today as he made his way to the podium of a joint session of the United States Congress just a short time ago.

We’re an ancient people. In our nearly 4,000 years of history, many have tried repeatedly to destroy the Jewish people. Tomorrow night, on the Jewish holiday of Purim, we’ll read the Book of Esther. We’ll read of a powerful Persian viceroy named Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people some 2,500 years ago. But a courageous Jewish woman, Queen Esther, exposed the plot and gave for the Jewish people the right to defend themselves against their enemies.
The plot was foiled. Our people were saved.
— Netanyahu speaking to the Congress

What Esther had to do…that was his task today – to reveal the evil plan of the evil men from today’s Persia. To get the king (perhaps Obama, perhaps the Congress, perhaps the Western world as a whole), to recognize the threat and do what it can to stop it.

I was so touched that Netanyahu went to the Kotel, the Western Wall,

Saturday night before leaving for the United States. It is the last remnant from the times of our Holy Temple, which was destroyed by the Romans over 2,000 years ago.

There at the Western Wall, every day, through the day and through the night Jews go to pray. Just the day before I was there – along with tens of thousands of others who gathered to pray.

As Netanyahu spoke to the Congress, at the very moment he was speaking, Jews were standing there praying. When Bibi went on Saturday night, it wasn’t about politics. It was about his going before God, there in the holiest of places to seek a blessing, the wisdom needed to make this speech, this trip, a success.

The weight of history was on his shoulders as he stood there listening to the applause moments before he said his first words. Before he left Israel, he told the world that he was going to speak for all Jews. And whether the Jews of America or Europe accept that, is not really the point; ultimately, if the tides turn and waves of anti-Semitism again come crashing down on Jewish communities, they will feel the violence first.

Already that is happening – in Paris and London, Berlin and Amsterdam. In Miami and Chicago. And with the danger, this time, every Jew in each of those cities knows there is Israel.

It always amazes me how focused the world is on little Israel and by contrast, how much little Israel does to influence the world. All that we develop, all the innovation that we share with the world – the basics of modern communication, of computer technology, medicines that save lives every day and amazing rescue teams that travel across seas to help others…that need to help others, to be in the forefront of change, that is what stood behind Netanyahu a few hours ago in front of the Congress and the world.

And behind Netanyahu was Israel – it was in the interest of every Israeli for him to succeed, for him to shine, for him to convince the world that the Amaleks and Hamans of the world are reborn in each generation and today, they can be found in many places where Jews are threatened. In delis that are really supermarkets in Paris, in the streets of Amsterdam and Berlin. In each place, the threat that is Iran is crawling towards the Jewish communities.

Behind Netanyahu stood more than six million Jews whose lives were cut short but whose voices and souls still cry out. Elie Wiesel sat above Netanyahu as a representative of those victims of hatred. For all those, Netanyahu traveled to Washington. For them, he accepted an invitation to speak to the world.

And more. Behind Netanyahu there was Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Sarah, Rivka, Leah and Rachel. They too listened. They were there as reminders that this land has been ours for thousands of years – long before a single Christian or Muslim walked the earth, our people lived in our homeland and worshiped one God.

That’s who stood behind Netanyahu today.

And, in front of him were men and women who needed to hear and understand that the threat we face is the same one that waits to attack them. When they burn our flag, the flag of America is the next one thrown to the fire.

After they blow up buses and malls in Jerusalem, they collapse buildings in New York and Washington, subways in London, and trains in Madrid. In front of Netanyahu was all of America – no, not the America of Barack Obama, but the America that stands for freedom from tyranny, the proud United States that bows to no one.

Bibi went there to tell them the truth that we have experienced first hand. We are a people thousands of years old. We know that when despots threaten to annihilate a people, they will do all in their power to accomplish it, to deliver death and pain to those they hate.

I wanted Netanyahu to tell them that what starts in Israel, goes out to the world – the light that came from being the people of one God, the Holy Book from the Holy Land. We gave the world the foundations of civilization as it is known today in the West – the value of life.

He did all that, and so much more because his final words were the ones we all needed to hear – the ones who stood behind him and the ones who stood before him. In his final words, was the greatest message of all.

We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves. This is why — this is why, as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.


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Batya Medad blogs at Shiloh Musings.