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Op-Ed: Iranian regime is the modern day Haman

Jewish sources stress that in every generation, Amalek rises to destroy the Jewish people and each time, he clothes himself in a different nation. In our times, the new Haman is the Iranian regime.
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According to the Me’am Loez Commentary, “In every generation, Amalek rises to destroy the Jewish people and each time, he clothes himself in a different nation.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has emphasized that in our times, the new Haman is the Iranian regime, which seeks to annihilate the State of Israel.

In a recent speech, Ayatollah Khamenei called Israel a “cancerous tumor” which should be “cured” in phases. According to him, these phases include violent intifadas and terror attacks “until the complete liberation of Palestine.” Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan recently stated that the main threat to Iran is America and its ally Israel. He claimed that Iran should engage in asymmetrical warfare in order to hit Israel “where it hurts most.” According to MEMRI, Iran has already made preparations for its proxies to step up the confrontation with Israel. The Simon Wiesenthal Center has reported that this is all part of a step-by-step plan to wipe out Israel’s infrastructure and to annihilate the country’s citizens.

According to the Times of Israel, Ayatollah Khamenei has argued that his desire to annihilate Israel would not result in the slaughter of all Jews. Rather, he claims that all of the Jews who immigrated to Israel will be forced to return to their “original countries.” However, a report in the Daily Mail claims that a website associated with Ayatollah Khamenei outlined theological arguments for why the destruction of Israel and the killing of the countries inhabitants is acceptable. In other words, they confirm the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s assertion that Iran’s desire to annihilate Israel also includes the mass murder of Israel’s citizens.

There are uncanny similarities between Ayatollah Khamenei’s intentions towards the State of Israel and the Purim story. In a similar manner, Haman, the Persian vizier who sought to annihilate the Jewish people in ancient Persia, also had a step-by-step plan to annihilate the Jewish people. Firstly, Haman cast lots in order to determine which date would be the best to succeed in eliminating the Jewish people. Once the lots were cast, the month of Adar was chosen as the date to exterminate the Jewish people. However, before the rest of the Jews were annihilated, Haman wanted to hang Mordechai on the gallows because of his refusal to bow down to him. Since Mordechai was one of the most influential Jews in the kingdom, it would be easier for Haman to implement his genocidal ambitions after he is dead. Thus, like the Iranian regime, Haman also sought to annihilate the Jewish people in stages.

As Rabbi Israel Rosen explained, both the Iranian regime and Haman are “characterized not only by their meaningless hatred but by their compulsive animosity.” He explained that a true Amalekite is “absorbed and consumed with hatred of Israel, which nourishes him 24 hours a day.” Haman, as a descendant of Amalek, could not enjoy his great prestige until Mordechai the Jew who refused to bow to him and his people were annihilated. Similarly, Iran won’t be able to enjoy the Shia Empire that they are creating in the Middle East until Israel, whom they refer to as the Little Satan, is wiped off the map.

In the past, some pundits in left-wing media outlets have criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for comparing the Iranian regime to Haman.  They argue that while Iran poses a strategic threat to Israel, Iran does not possess Haman’s genocidal ambitions for they are not taking any actions in order to commit genocide against the Iranian Jewish community. These pundits claim that while Iranian Jews in the Islamic Republic face persecution as dhimmis, which makes them into second class citizens, their lives are not under threat so long as they stay far away from any Zionist activity for Ayatollah Khomeini proclaimed following the 1979 Islamic Revolution: “We recognize our Jews as separate from those godless bloodsucking Zionists.”

However, while Haman wanted to eliminate all Jews in the Persian Empire and the Iranian regime only seeks to annihilate the State of Israel, this does not mean that there are not many parallels between the Purim story and Iran’s present sentiment towards Israel. First of all, according to international law, it is enough to seek to destroy a nation “in part” for a perpetrator to be accused of inciting genocide. This means that the very fact that the Iranian regime constantly calls to annihilate the State of Israel implies that they are inciting genocide, just as Haman with his official declaration to the king incited genocide. Secondly, the Iranian regime has a plan to realize their genocidal ambitions, just like Haman did. This two similarities are enough to label the Iranian regime to be the modern day Haman.

Haman specifically targeted the Jewish people because Mordechai refused to compromise his religious beliefs and conform to the Persian idolatrous norms set by Haman. Iranian leaders similarly declare that Zionists have perverted “cultural concepts” and are guilty of having “no faith in religion or even G-d” because they don’t conform to Islamist beliefs. For this reason, they claim Jews should not be permitted to build a state in the heart of the Islamic Middle East. However, just as Haman unsuccessfully tried to destroy the Jewish people, modern-day Iran will also fail.

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JOL Blogger | Rachel Avraham

Rachel holds a masters degree in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben-Gurion University and a BA in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland. She is the author of Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab media.


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