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Zarif's Disagreements With Pompeo Turn Biblical

FILE PHOTO - Mohammad Javad Zarif. 27 Feb 2019
FILE PHOTO - Mohammad Javad Zarif. 27 Feb 2019

The Islamic Republic’s Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has implicitly dismissed a recent comment made by his American counterpart, Mike Pompeo, as "Iranophobia" and a "distortion” of Torah, Iran's official news agency, IRNA, reported on Saturday, March 23.

Earlier in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, CBN, Pompeo had said it is possible that perhaps God has willed for President Donald Trump to "save the Jewish people" from what the interviewer called the "Iran menace."

Referring to a Bible story in which Queesn Esther helps save the Jews, CBN's Middle East Bureau chief, Chris Mitchel, asked Pompeo, "Could it be that President Trump right now has been sort of raised for such a time as this, like Queen Esther, to help Jewish people from an Iranian menace?"

Pompeo answered, "As a Christian, I certainly believe that's possible."

However, without directly naming Pompeo, or any other American or Israeli official, Zarif said in a tweet published on Saturday morning, "Even the Torah is distorted to serve Iranophobia. What it actually says:-Persian king saved Jews from captivity in Babylon.-Another Persian king saved Jews from genocide. -Genocide plotter hailed from the Negev, not Persia.-Persian king is the only foreigner referred to as MESSIAH."

This is the second time that Zarif has referred rather proudly to the great Kings of the Persian Empire (modern day Iran). As a rule, Islamic Republic top officials either ignore pre-Islamic Iran or refer to it in disdain.

The first time was two years ago when Zarif was responding to a statement by Benjamin Netanyahu.

During a speech before the U.S. Congress on March 3, 2017, Netanyahu invoked the Jewish Purim holiday, citing the Biblical deliverance of Jews from genocide under the rule of ancient Persian Empire and calling attention to the story of a Jewish girl named Esther, who became Queen of Persia.

“A courageous Jewish woman, Queen Esther, exposed the plot and gave for the Jewish people the right to defend themselves against their enemies,” Netanyahu said of the Jews' salvation story. "The plot was foiled, our people were saved. Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us.”

The “plot” refers to the story that a senior Persian official conspired to harm the Jews around 2,500 years ago.

Days later on March 12 Zarif responded in a tweet, insisting, "“To sell bigoted lies against a nation which has saved Jews 3 times, Netanyahu resorting to fake history & falsifying Torah. Force of habit.”

Furthermore, Zarif's tweet had an attachment saying, ""Once again, Benjamin Netanyahu not only distorts the realities of today but also distorts the past -- including Jewish scripture,” said Zarif.

“It is truly regrettable that bigotry gets to the point of making allegations against an entire nation which has saved Jews three times in its history. The Book of Esther tells of how Xerxes I saved Jews from a plot hatched by Haman the Agagite, which is marked on this very day; again, during the time of Cyrus the Great, an Iranian king saved the Jews -- this time from captivity in Babylon; and during the Second World War, when Jews were being slaughtered in Europe, Iran gladly took them in," Zarif added.

However, the Jewish people do not view Xerxes as a savior, since he had initially approved Haman's order to massacre the Persian Empire's Jewish citizens. The indisputable heroine of the tale, according to the Jewish belief, is Queen Esther who forced her husband Xerxes to overrule Haman's order. Haman was ultimately hanged, it is said.

Meanwhile, during Pompeo's two-day visit to Israel, the U.S. and Israeli authorities repeatedly referred to the Islamic Republic as a threat to the Jewish state.