Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Purim and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee


Last week we observed the holiday of Purim with the reading in synagogues around the world of the Megillat Esther, partying with strong drink and masquerades, eating Hamantashen (named after the notorious Haman), and exchanging Shalach Monot (gifts of food and sweets). Purim commemorates a theme which occurs too frequently in Jewish history: our struggle for survival against those who “in every generation would rise up to destroy us”. Of course, the outcome happily is always the same: with the help of G-d, we prevail over our enemies.

Earlier this week, immediately following Purim, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) held its Annual Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.

While the story of Purim is ancient (Circa 357 BCE), its plot and subplots remain relevant in our modern day struggle to battle the de-legitimizers of Israel and the 21st century anti-Semites who would like nothing better than to see Israel and the Jewish people disappear from the face of the earth. While G-d watches over us from above, the Covenant he made with us requires that we be proactive in assuring our own survival.

In the palace court of King Ahasuerus in ancient Persia, where all the political ambitions and governmental schemes played out, a Jew named Mordecai closely watched on the sidelines to protect the interests of the Jewish people living securely in exile under a benign administration.

Mordecai knew the nature of the political elites of his time and their possible negative influence on the king. He was determined to position a person close to the king to oppose any negative policies and neutralize any deleterious influences that would endanger the security and safety of the Jewish people as well as the stability of the kingdom. His opportunity came when the king sought a new queen, and that person was Esther. You know the rest of the story. Without Mordecai’s knowledge of the internal workings of the king’s court and the affective lobbying of Esther the events of the day would have had a very different outcome.

Fast forward to today. For almost all of Israel’s modern existence, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has been the pre-eminent American/Jewish lobby to assure that the American/Israel relationship is strong and that a special connection exists between two of the world’s strongest democracies and which is in the best interest of both nations.

In Washington D.C., where Congress and the White House play out their political ambitions and governmental schemes, AIPAC closely watches on the sidelines to protect the interests of the Jewish people living securely in America and to educate and lobby members of our government with regard to the American/Israel relationship. The recently concluded Annual Policy Conference brought together thousands of Americans from every corner of our nation to perform the work begun by Mordecai and Esther in another time of Jewish peril.

Although the acronym AIPAC may be misleading, AIPAC is not a political action committee. It does not raise funds for or endorse political candidates, although many members of AIPAC are political activists who independently support, endorse and campaign for candidates for public office as responsible citizens of our country.

AIPAC is a non-partisan organization whose mission is solely to educate, explain and support the American/Israel relationship as being in the best interest of the American people, to lobby members of our government and to promote policies that enhance this special relationship. Their membership is made up of a cross-section of America’s population and is not exclusively Jewish.

The Jewish lobby in ancient Persia was very different from AIPAC’s sophisticated lobbying in the United States, but the end game remains the same: the safety, security and survival of the Jewish people in Israel and the promotion of policies to members of our government for the safety, security and well being of America, the nation we call home.

If you wish to comment or respond to any of the contents herein you can reach me at melpearlman322@gmail.com. Please do so in a rational, thoughtful, respectful and civil manner. If you wish to respond by ranting and raving, please go into your bathroom, lock the door and shout your brains out.

Mel Pearlman has been practicing law in Central Florida for the past 45 years. He has served as president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando; on the District VII Mental Health Board, as Special Prosecutor for the City of Winter Park, Florida; and on the Board of Directors of the Central Florida Research and Development Authority. He was a charter member of the Board of Directors and served as the first Vice President of the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida, as well as its first pro-bono legal counsel.


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