TEL AVIV (Feb. 25)
The Persian Gulf war is influencing how Israeli youngsters will dress when Purim festivities begin Wednesday night.
Favorites among the kids include the camouflage outfits worn by American soldiers operating Patriot anti-missile batteries.
But according to one toy shop, the most popular item is a child-size Israel Defense Force uniform, which comes with a pair of glasses and a name tag reading “Nachman Shai, Army Spokes-man.”
Gen. Shai, the official IDF spokesman whose face appears on television every time a Scud missile alert sounds, has had more media exposure in recent weeks than most superstars.
His reassuring tones have earned him the sobriquet “National Valium.”
Purim costumes are priced between $20 and $25. Some vendors are offering 20 percent off for the traditional disguises — Esther, Mordechai, Haman — which are not selling as well as the modern war-inspired dress.
Soviet olim are an exception to this, however. For their children, dressing up as the heroes, heroines or villains of the Megillah is a novelty, because most of them never celebrated Purim in their lives.
Israeli manufacturers, by tacit agreement, refrained from producing what they are sure would have been the runaway best-seller this Purim: a Saddam Hussein mask.
The modern-day Haman would have outsold the original, said one costumer. “But I decided against making money on this war. Making a Saddam costume would be like making a Hitler costume,” he said.
That hasn’t stopped bakers from turning out “Saddamtashen,” which look and taste exactly like Hamantashen.