After his meeting with President Obama on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly made a point of telling journalists about his gift to the leader of the free world: a scroll (was it an actual scroll?) with the story of Esther.
Not much subtlety, according to The Jerusaelm Post, in the intended symbolism:
“Then too, they wanted to wipe us out,” Netanyahu told Obama, according to an Israeli official … “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.
Benny Avni offered the same explanation in The New York Post:
But Netanyahu gave Obama a copy of the Book of Esther, which recounts the Jews’ victory over a Persian man who wanted to annihilate them in the fifth century BC — indicating the modern clock on a similar Persian threat is ticking.
I get the idea, the whole Haman-Ahmadinejad parallel. And you can’t beat the timing, with Purim falling this week. But, for Netyanhu’s sake, let’s just hope the president doesn’t actually get around to reading the whole megillah. Otherwise, he might notice that King Ahashverus — the closest thing to the U.S. president in the story — is a buffoon who sold the Jews down the genocidal river before he changed his mind and decided to switch sides.
And then there’s the uncomfortable wrinkle that in Megillat Esther the Jews can’t/don’t launch their successful preemptive strike against their enemies until they secure the king’s permission — not quite the "Israel has the right, the sovereign right to make its own decisions" message that Netanyahu has been hammering home during his trip this week to Washington. For now, Obama says he agrees, but if he ever gets around to reading that megillah Bibi gave him … who knows, he might change his mind.
Or as a great Jewish sage once said: