JERUSALEM, Israel -- The faith and traditions that set Judaism apart has often made it the target of bigotry and hatred.
A little more than 60 years ago, that loathing culminated in the murder of six million European Jews, solely for the crime of being Jewish.
For millennia, Jews have gathered to retell the story of their forefathers' miraculous deliverance from the genocidal plans of Haman the Agagite in the fourth century BCE.
The Book of Esther recounts how God rescued the Jewish people, scattered throughout the Persian Empire from India to Ethiopia, from the plot to annihilate them.
Esther, an orphan raised by her cousin, Mordechai, became queen to King Ahasuerus. She and her cousin play pivotal roles in the deliverance of their people.
When Purim comes around, Israelis always talk about Iran. There's a natural correlation between the ancient Haman and today's Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
But this year is different. War seems imminent.
Today, under Supreme Leader Ali Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran, or modern Persia, is leading an Islamist call for a second Holocaust, the annihilation of the Jewish state and the nearly six million Jews who live here today.
The international community first tried to convince Israel that diplomacy was the way to deter Iran's nuclear ambitions.
When that failed, the U.N., U.S. and E.U. went to tougher economic sanctions to dissuade the Iranians, urging Israel to give them more time to work.
But with Iran moving its uranium-enrichment facilities to impregnable underground locations, the window for a successful preemptive military strike is narrowing every day.
Even the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency finally admitted what Israel has known: Iran is bent on producing a nuclear arsenal.
Factored into the picture are threats by Pakistan to retaliate against an Israeli attack. Iranian proxies Hezbollah and Hamas -- and possibly Syria, Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey -- could also be convinced to join the fray.
As Jews celebrate Purim next week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with President Obama and other senior officials at the White House.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak is in Washington this week to meet with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon. On Tuesday, Barak met with Vice President Joe Biden.
Surrounded by a sea of hatred and the growing threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, the tiny nation of Israel must do what it's always done -- remember God's faithfulness to His people.
The festival of Purim is a great place to do that.