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April 15, 2019

Lobe Log: The Story Of Esther And Netanyahu’s Attack On Iranian History

By Sina Toossi

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently declared that he believes it is “possible” that President Trump was sent by God to protect the Jewish people from Iranians. Pompeo’s remarks came during an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, after he was asked if “President Trump right now has been sort of raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from an Iranian menace.” In likening Trump to Esther, Pompeo added that he was “confident that the Lord is at work here.”

Aside from the preposterous notion that President Trump enjoys divine support, Pompeo’s remarks distort the story of Esther and demonize the Iranian people and their history. Nor is Pompeo’s framing of this Biblical story new. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long twisted the Old Testament’s book of Esther to advance a hawkish agenda on Iran. Such rhetoric from Pompeo and Netanyahu is demagogic hyperbole at best and dangerous incitement against the Iranian people at worst.

Importantly, Pompeo’s comments occur in the context of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, marked by a unilateral withdrawal from the July 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the imposition of draconian U.S. sanctions that are impoverishing ordinary Iranians, and senior Trump officials exploring options to launch U.S. military strikes.

For his part, Netanyahu has sought to cynically and erroneously frame the story of Esther to reflect an age-old Iranian enmity for the Jewish people. Although Iranian officials have for 40 years engaged in deplorable anti-Israeli vitriol and threats, Netanyahu’s narrative of the story of Esther goes beyond censuring the Islamic Republic. Instead of targeting the current Iranian government, Netanyahu has chosen to go after Iran’s pre-Islamic past.

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