A hero for us all – The Australian Jewish News

In two weeks, Jews around the world will celebrate Purim, when a lone Jew rose up to defend his people against a power-crazed tyrant.

It is not necessary to turn to the biblical Book of Esther to find such heroic figures. Jewish history is replete with individuals of courage and conviction who rose from humble beginnings to take on mighty empires and resist oppression.

David the shepherd who fought Goliath and the Philistines, Judah the priest who triumphed over Antiochus and the Greeks… and, for the past few days, Volodymyr the comedian who refused to bow to Putin.

Just a few years ago, Ukrainian President Zelensky used to make people laugh with sometimes quite base humor. But fast forward to March 2022 and Volodymyr Zelensky has effectively become the leader of the free world.

As world powers wring their hands fearful of stinging the Russian bear as it emerges from its slumber, it falls to the grandson of a Red Army soldier who fought the Nazis and whose father and the brothers perished in the Holocaust, to challenge a Kremlin eyeing the opportunity to rebuild an empire that crumbled three decades ago.

Among those with more reason to wring their hands than others is Israel, torn between being on the right side of history on the one hand and antagonizing invader Vlad, the a bit of a strange bedfellow to recent Israeli Prime Ministers who, when it comes to Syria, overturns the old adage “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”.

Somewhat perplexingly, for the Jewish state, it is rather a question of “the friend of my enemy is my friend”, hence the ambivalence in condemning the Russian incursion.

But while Naftali Bennett may be hesitant, Yair Lapid seems a little less reluctant to pitch in for Team Zelensky.

This is a war of weapons, not words, however, and in the face of Russian aggression, support from the sidelines seems unlikely to back Ukraine. Which begs the question, where will the bear seek to feast next?

One can only hope that the courage and fortitude of Zelensky and his compatriots will pay off and reduce the appetite of Putin and the bear.

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