Iranian MP Zohreh Lajevardi reinterpreted the Book of Esther to claim that it told the story of Jews massacring Iranians, explaining that, as a result, Iran will never recognize the state of Israel.
By Donna Rachel Edmunds, World Israel News
Iran “will never recognize” Israel “at any level,” as the “enmity” between Iran and the Jewish state dates back as far as the events told in the story of Esther at Purim – a holiday in which Jews celebrate the “brutal massacre” of Iranians, an Iranian member of parliament has claimed.
The extraordinary comments came in a Fars News Agency interview with Zohreh Lajevardi, the parliamentary representative for Tehran, regarding her efforts to mount a legal challenge against Israel’s attempts to penalize Iranian athletes for refusing to face Israeli opponents in international competition.
“The Zionist regime is the sworn enemy of Iran and Iranians, and this enmity, without any connection to the ruling regime in Iran, has a long history, so that the Zionists still celebrate Purim every year on the anniversary of the brutal massacre of the Iranian people,” Lajevardi claimed, according to the Jerusalem Post.
She added: “But with the victory of the [Iranian] revolution, this enmity became so public, so much so that a brief look at the events of the last 40 years proves well that this vicious regime is the sworn enemy of Iran and Iranians.”
Underscoring her complete rejection of Israel, Lajevardi stated that, from Iran’s perspective, “there is no foreign country called Israel.”
“This evil regime has been occupying Palestine for decades and has imprisoned this free nation, and there is not a day that a man, woman or child is not killed in occupied Palestine and all these abuses take place in the absolute silence of international human rights organizations and institutions,” she claimed.
It is in this context that Lajevardi justified Iran’s refusal to field athletes against Israel.
“One of the most valuable approaches of Iran after the Islamic Revolution has been the lack of confrontation between the athletes of the country and the athletes of the usurping Zionist regime in sports fields,” she insisted, adding: “Due to the enmity that this regime has with the culture, religion and customs of Iran and Iranians, we will never recognize them at any level, including as an opponent and in sports fields that are based on chivalry, peace and tranquility.”
The former Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, has argued in the past that Iran’s argument is with Zionists, not Jews, saying: “We recognize our Jews as separate from those godless Zionists.”
However, other Iranian officials have made a link between the story of Purim, which tells of the Persian king Ahasuerus, his wife, the Jewish Queen Esther, and Ahasuerus’s official Haman, who tried to kill the Jews. Following Esther’s intervention, Ahasuerus permits the Jews to defend themselves against the Persians, which they do. The story is set in Shushan, identified as the modern Shush in western Iran.
In a 2011 article for Fars, the head of the Student Basij Organization in Hamedan wrote that the Purim story described an “Iranian Holocaust,” recasting Esther as a “corrupt” Queen who “massacred” 75,000 Iranians. The article also used the terms “Jew” and “Zionist” interchangeably.
Israel has also cited the story of Purim for political reasons. In February this year, then prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Israel will not permit Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons, invoking Purim in his message.
“On the eve of [the festival of] Purim, I would like to say to those who seek our lives, Iran and its proxies in the Middle East: 2,500 years ago, another Persian villain [Haman] tried to destroy the Jewish people and just as he failed then, so too will you fail today. We will not allow your extremist and aggressive regime to attain nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said during a speech at a memorial service in northern Israel.