Purim: Iran is not Haman

It is that time of year, when we Jews celebrate yet another victory over oppression. The famous, but somewhat out of place story about how the Jewish queen of a Persian king saved her people from doom at the hands of a wicked minister, thanks to the advice of her uncle. We can draw an important parallel from this story to the Iran of today that many Jews have forgotten about over the past decades.


Esther Denouncing Haman, by Ernest Normand (1888)


The Jewish people and Persians have a long and mostly amicable relationship, from Cyrus the Great who freed us from Babylon, up to the Shah not too long ago. Even today, the Persian people have warmth towards us and the West at large, and a common enemy in the Arabs, despite the current regime in Tehran. Yet Jews seem to have forgotten this, many absurdly citing Iran as the greatest threat to world peace. The previously wise Benjamin Netanyahu has gone off the rails in rhetoric against a onetime ally. Nevermind that our supposed friends in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the Emirates have been funding gruesome terrorists of the PLO, al Qaeda, and ISIS for decades.

Iran, meanwhile has done almost nothing comparable. Yes, they have supported Hezbollah, a brutal terrorist group, but a fairly disciplined one that has not troubled us one bit since 2006. They are Shiite like the Iranians, not Sunni like the Hamas maniacs who have attacked Israel relentlessly in the same period, and the aforementioned groups. It is true that Iran has provided finance via Syria, but Hamas was always a bit different, which is perhaps why Israel let it fester a little longer in the 80s than it should have (leading to ignorant accusations that Israel supported the group). Beyond this, its hard to pin much on Iran. Its people yearn for freedom, unlike our Arab allies who desire to slaughter us and oppress each other.

We have to remember that the Islamist rulers like Haman are temporary. They are exceptionally wicked, but they will be gone. The heart of the Persian people is like the good king, Ahashwerosh, who desired to do well to the Jewish people. If those like him could be strengthened and enforced, there would be change. If the Persians were made more aware of the Jews and the West, they would embrace us and throw off the yoke of Haman. It will take some change in our mindset. Israel and the West must stop antagonizing Iran. The government rightly feels threatened. Friendship in the 80s and 90s enabled moderates to gain power. Antagonism by President Bush promoted extremists and hardlining.

If pressure were taken off, they would be less inclined to pursue militancy and potential nuclear weapons. If we became realistic about the Saudis and Gulf states, and held them to the fire, Iran would not feel under siege. Indeed the tide would turn. Supreme Leader Khamenei is getting old and ill; he will need to be replaced soon. This presents an opportunity for the West and Israel to influence this in a good way, by not influencing it at all. Unfortunately one of the best reformer candidates, Grand Ayatollah Rafsanjani, recently died, but there are others, and he chose many of those who will select the next Supreme Leader. It wont be long before this Haman is dispatched and the Persian people once again celebrate their Jewish friends.

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