Thursday, March 20, 2008

What I know about Purim

I realize that most One True Tami fans (blessed be Her name) are itching to talk about the eagle ray that jumped out of the water and killed some woman in a boat in Florida, and for failing to do this, I humbly apologize. (For the record, I ran into a couple of those bastages when scuba diving off the Florida Keys and had no idea they were so lethal. I should have eaten them when I had the chance. Perhaps the poor woman would be alive today.) However, given the season - both political and religious - there are bigger things afoot which require our attention.

Here's what I know about Purim. Pretty much nothing. I recall reading that it celebrates a narrow escape by the Jewish people from some bad man during biblical times. Apparently it's customary to party down and wear costumes at this time, so perhaps that's why the increasingly senile appearing Sen. John McCain thought that Purim was the Jewish version of Halloween. (Hat tip to Jill from Brilliant at Breakfast.)
McCain made the incorrect statement during a press conference with Defense Minister Ehud Barak after touring the Israeli city of Sderot to view buildings damaged by Hamas rocket fire. McCain was discussing the numerous rock attacks on the city. "Nine hundred rocket attacks in less than three months, an average of one every one to two hours. Obviously this puts an enormous and hard to understand strain on the people here, especially the children. As they celebrate their version of Halloween here, they are somewhere close to a 15-second warning, which is the amount of time they have from the time the rocket is launched to get to safety.

Now, let's face it. McCain is some regular old vanilla dude, much like myself, and it might be considered rather typical that he's no expert on Purim either. But the follow-up to this little gaffe is what I found remarkable. No less an august Jewish personage than Joe Lieberman rushed in to McCain's defense and took credit for the unforced error.
When Sen. Lieberman had a chance to speak at the press conference, he placed the blame of the mistake on himself. "I had a brief exchange with one of the mothers whose children was in there in a costume for Purim," Lieberman, who is Jewish and celebrates the holiday, said. "And it's my fault that I said to Senator McCain that this is the Israeli version of Halloween. It is in the sense because the kids dress up and it's a very happy holiday and actually it is in the sense that the sweets are very important of both holidays."

Now, I'm not Jewish, and neither is McCain. But you might think that Lieberman would have had a clue on Purim. And it's not as if he's lacking experience on the national campaign trail and was unaware how such a mistake could be played in a presidential campaign. He ran for veep himself. But the point is, how likely is it really that Joe Lieberman had no clue about Purim and fed the bad info to McCain? Or was it just his way of falling on his sword for the GOP candidate and was just lying through his teeth?

Didn't he used to be a Democrat?

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