March 07, 2012
The Sad Religious Spin on the Iranian fiasco
Watching the drumbeat relative to Iran, one can not but be reminded of the Iraq experience. I hope to God that the USA does not elect someone who will follow the drumbeat of war. It will be a disaster. This article is a wise one relative to the particular religous spin (and I think a sad statement on the state of American political discourse and thinking that this sort of thing may well work: Bibi Netanyahu's Bible Story - Robert Wright - International - The Atlantic
Yesterday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave President Obama a copy of the book of Esther, which will be read in synagogues this week in observance of Purim. Esther tells the story of a Persian government that tries and fails to wipe out all the Jews in the Persian Empire. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Netanyahu saw this as an occasion to generalize about Persians (or, as we call them today, Iranians). He told Obama, "Then, too, they wanted to wipe us out."
Here's a thought experiment: Suppose that an Arab or Iranian leader of Muslim faith met with President Obama and told him about some part of the Koran that alludes to conflict between Muhammad and Jewish tribes. For example, according to Muslim tradition, the Jewish tribe known as the Qurayzah, though living in Muhammad's town of Medina, secretly sided with Muhammad's enemies in Mecca. Suppose this Muslim said to Obama, "Then, too, the Jews were bent on destroying Muslims." What would our reaction be?
I think reactions would vary. Some people would say, "See, the Koran teaches Muslims to hate Jews!" Some would say, "Wow, this Muslim is looking really, really hard for reasons to keep hating Jews, isn't he?"
That second point, at least, would have some merit. After all, the Muslim could just as easily have pointed to parts of the Koran that say nice things about Jews--such as the part that says that God, in his "prescience," chose "the children of Israel ... above all peoples." Or the part that says that God "sent down the Torah" as "guidance to the people" and now had sent down the Koran "confirming what was before it."
By the same token, Netanyahu could choose to emphasize a part of the Hebrew Bible that depicts Persians in a more flattering light. For example, the part that calls Cyrus the Great, the Persian king, the "messiah" because he delivered the exiled Israelites back to their home. (Yes, the only non-Hebrew called messiah in the entire Hebrew Bible is a Persian!)
Dangerous rhetoric and dangerous game playing by a fringe in Israel that somehow believes that Iran is Iraq.
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If one wanted to be charitable (which I somehow doubt one does), one could keep in mind that Purim is the one holiday when one is religiously required to get so drunk that one cannot tell the difference between "cursed be Haman" and "blessed be Mordecai." Maybe Netanyahu was just starting a little early.
Posted by: Eva Luna at March 7, 2012 05:58 PM