Jews around the world will begin celebrating the festive holiday of Purim tomorrow. Tellingly, PM Benjamin Netanyahu saw it fitting to present President Obama with the scroll (Megillat Esther) that chronicles the Jews’ victory over Persia – today known as Iran – and the evil Haman who tried to annihilate the Jews some 2,500 years ago.
WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu handed U.S. President Barack Obama a gift on Monday that spoke volumes about Israel’s tensions with Iran – an ancient Hebrew tome about a Persian plot to annihilate Jews.
It’s called the Scroll of Esther, a tale of palace intrigue featuring a Jewish beauty who charms a Persian king into foiling an evil adviser’s genocidal plans for her people some 2,500 years ago.
“Then too, they wanted to wipe us out,” Netanyahu told Obama, according to an Israeli official.
Jews gather in synagogues on Wednesday to read the scroll, popularly known as Megillat Esther, on the Jewish costume holiday of Purim, a celebration of salvation and of turning the tables on one’s foes.
“And the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and with slaughter and destruction, and did what they would unto them that hated them,” one of the verses says.
Netanyahu, who has called Iran’s nuclear program a threat to Israel’s existence, made a point of telling reporters after his White House meeting with the president that he had given the Megillah to Obama.
The Israeli leader, in a frosty meeting with Obama last May, lectured the president on Jewish history and criticized his approach to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Netanyahu has also invoked the lessons of the Nazi Holocaust, in which six million Jews were killed, in citing the dangers he says a nuclear-armed Iran – the modern-day Persia – would pose.