Our enjoyment at Haman's downfall has to do not only with its suddenness, but with the way that he acts as his own worst enemy. When Haman first becomes aware of Mordechai's refusal to bow down to him, he retains enough composure to realize that it is beneath the dignity of the senior public official in the world's dominant empire to respond publicly to the insults of a solitary Jew. He restrains himself, and instead enlists King Achashverosh in a plan to wipe out all the Jews of the vast Persian empire..
Haman's charge against the Jewish people is that they threaten Achashverosh's goal of creating a unified Persian Empire out of many disparate peoples. (Here I'm following Rabbi David Fohrman's The Queen You Never Knew.) A nation is defined by its homeland and laws, and yet the Jewish people refuse to acknowledge that they are no longer a nation by virtue of their loss of land. They retain their own laws, as if they were still a nation, despite being dispersed and scattered throughout the empire. Such a determined people, Haman insinuates, must always remain a threat to Achashverosh's grand plans.
Yet after leaving the first banquet in high spirits, Haman is completely deflated by the sight of Mordechai sitting in the King's gate and still refusing to acknowledge him in any way. He returns home fairly ranting to his own family about his wealth and numerous children, all of which he pronounces worthless as long Mordechai continue to ignore him. Only when his wife suggests building a gallows fifty cubits high does he regain a measure of composure.
By following Zeresh's advice, he has now done what he initially recognized to be beneath his dignity: He has personalized his dispute with Mordechai. Even within that framework, he acts impetuously. Rather than waiting for the morning to seek Achasherosh's permission to hang Mordechai, as Zeresh advised, he hastens there in the middle of the night, just as the sleepless King is learning from the royal chronicles of the great good done for him by Mordechai, for which he was never properly recompensed.
Even after Haman is accused by Esther of having sought to kill her and her people, he might have argued that his concern was only with the Jewish people as a whole, but certainly exemptions would be made for Esther and her family. But the gallows built for Mordechai stand as a refutation of Haman's claim to having acted as a disinterested advisor to Achashverosh, for it testifies to Haman's personal motivation in seeking the Achashverosh's decree of destruction on the Jews. And because the gallows is fifty cubits high, it can be seen immediately from the royal palace, as soon as Charvonah makes known its existence. Haman has no opportunity to placate or appease Achashverosh, while the latter investigates Charvonnah's statement. He is immediately sentenced and executed, a victim of his own stratagems.
Today, as in the days of Esther and Mordechai, the Jewish people are once again threatened with mass destruction by a madman from Persia, who hovers on the verge of obtaining the means to act on his threats. But as we confront this new oppressor, at least we have the solace of knowing that we have been in this situation before, and that Ahmadinejad too will eventually overplay his hand and act in such a way as to hasten his own downfall.
Part of the special joy of Adar results from watching our enemies raised high only to be brought crashing down. Thus the schadenfreude I am experiencing over the current travails at National Public Radio contains a taste of Adar.
Ron Schiller, president of the NPR Foundation and vice-president for development, was caught in a private sting operation mounted by political activist James O'Keefe, when he was filmed over lunch with two men posing as Muslims eager to contribute $5,000,000 to NPR. The fake website of the organization the two purported to represent describes its support for spreading Sharia (Muslim law), and the two would-be donors told Schiller that their organization was an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood of America.
At one point in the conversation, one of the men comments that his friends often refer to NPR as National Palestinian Radio because of its "fair" coverage of the Palestinian-Israel conflict. Schiller's associate laughs loudly and adds, "Oh, that's really good." Schiller's confines himself to a polite chuckle.
Along the way, Schiller expresses his frustration with the manner in which the Republican Party has been hijacked by "gun-toting, racist" Tea Party members, and despairs at how small numerically are the educated, elites in America. He also opines that NPR would be better off, in the long run, without any federal funding.
At a time when the Republican-controlled House has put federal support for NPR on the chopping block, Schiller's remarks may have furthered that wish. That may be one reason why the NPR board of directors immediately accepted the resignation of NPR CEO Vivian Schiller (no relation), in the wake of her chief fundraiser's remarks. For his part, Schiller not only lost his current job, but his next one as well. The Aspen Institute, where he was to take up duties as director of an Artist-in-Residence program, announced that he will not be coming to work.
Ira Stoll, writing at "The Future of Capitalism" website, questioned the ethics of the way O'Keefe tricked Schiller. Though Schiller expressed himself with apparent sincerity, it is true that high-level fundraising depends on figuring out what donors want to hear and telling it to them – which is precisely what Schiller now says he was doing.
In truth, we all are in pretty much the same situation as Schiller every day. The yetzer hara offers us all kinds of good reasons to say things we should not – the desire to curry favor with our audience, to increase our prestige at others expense, etc. And the financial pain felt by Ron Schiller for remarks broadcast to the entire world will be nothing compared to our humiliation when we find ourselves one day watching the movie of how our yetzer trapped us.
As of this writing, it appears that little good will come out of the rebellion in Libya. Mu'amar Gaddafi appears willing to act on the threat made at the onset of demonstrations against his four decade rule to "fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet." And it is also seems increasingly likely that the United States will not act, singly or together with other nations, to stop him from doing so.
But at least, the focus on Libya and its crazy ruler serves to expose the absolute hypocrisy of the leading "humanitarian" critics of Israel. The first of those is the United Nations Human Rights Council, on which Libya sat as a member in good standing. The notorious Goldstone Report on Israel's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza was prepared under the auspicies of the UNHRC. Israel's alleged human rights violations are a permanent agenda item that must be discussed every time the UNHRC convenes, and only Israel is honored with a permanent Special Rapporteur to report on its human rights violations. Of those resolutions condemning a specific country for human rights violations passed by the UNHRC in the past five years, 35 out of 51 condemn Israel. (That's actually a lower percentage than UN General Assembly condemnations of specific countries, of which Israel garners a full 80% of the condemnations.)
Yet with respect to Libya, the UNHRC has shown no similarly keen eye for human rights violations. In November 2010, a long list of nations, including such notable bailwicks of human rights as Syria, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, and Cuba, all made statements to the UNHRC in support of Libya's strong commitment to the promotion of human rights and it's excellent in progress in furthering those rights.
The UNHRC's Goldstone Report relied heavily on the "findings" of Human Rights Watch, another organization that stands revealed to have a highly skewed perspective. Sarah Whitson, director of the division of HRW responsible for the Middle East and North Africa, travelled to Libya in 2009 and discovered a "Tripoli spring" of "expanded space for discussion and debate." And she attributed these positive developments to Gaddafi's son Seif. As reported by NGO Monitor, Whitson wrote of the "open debate" in the country, while failing to note that the country had imposed censorship controls on access to internet and made it a criminal offense to publish or say anything that might "tarnish" the regime abroad.
Whitson also travelled to Saudi Arabia in 2009 to shill for HRW by boasting of its testimony critical of Israel in the U.S. Congress. Whitson's open bias against Israel eventually prompted Robert Bernstein, the founder of HRW, to write an oped in the New York Times, criticizing Whitson's loss of "critical perspective" vis-à-vis Israel, as evidenced by the greater number of condemnations of Israel than of any other country in the region. Recent events in Libya, and Whitson's earlier efforts to whitewash the regime's dismal human rights record, only serve to highlight just how right Bernstein was.
The revelations of the total hypocrisy of Israel's accusers is just one more cause for rejoicing this Adar.