Iran between Cyrus and Haman
So, we’re back again to having a madman in a position of power in Persia seeking to destroy all the Jews (G-d forbid) (Esther 3:6). Jewish history has that way of maintaining its relevance for us all times, rather than staying “old tales of things that happened to other people”. Once again, we will have to brace ourselves for intensive prayer, Torah study, repentance, almsgiving and fasting for the month on which our Purim and the Persians’ Nouruz fall. Here I wish to comment, however, on the predicament from Iran’s side.
On that very chapter, in the first verse, Haman is described as being, “the son of Hammedatha the Agagite”. A minor biographical detail, but if we keep in mind that the Tanach as a whole is conservative in its descriptions, then every detail counts, and this is no exception.
“Agagite”. Agag was the Amalekite king whose life Saul spared and was punished for that. The Amalekites, no longer extant as a nation, but still existing as a power and symbol for Israel’s struggle against doubt and unbelief in G-d, were among the spawn of Esau, who was, of course, a Semite, being the brother of Jacob. The Persians, in contrast, are the spawn of Japheth—an Indo-European people, the same as the English.
Haman, it follows, was no native Iranian. And indeed Iran, unlike the spawn of Esau or Ishmael, is not a natural enemy of the Jews. It had been just a little before the events in the book of Esther that a Persian king, Cyrus, ended the Babylonian Exile of the Jews, and got the distinction of being counted a messiah, that is, anointed by G-d. This makes the events of the book of Esther and today even more saddening.
Cyrus’ empire was one of the best-remembered in history: in contrast to the empires of the Assyrians and the Babylonians, which were maintained through fear and horrible punishments for the slightest transgression, Cyrus gave every conquered people autonomy under his empire. There were a few regresses throughout the two centuries of the Achaemenid Empire, for example during the reign of Cyrus’ son, Cambyses, but the norm for that empire was a multicultural coexistence foreshadowing that of the Greco-Buddhist kingdom of Gandhara. Such was Iran’s glory, as well as its friendship with the Jews, in the days when it voiced its own nationality instead of serving as a vessel for Jew-hating foreigners.
Of Ahmadinejad’s ancestry I do not pretend to know; it is pertinent, however, to consider that his name means (my thanks to an Iranian Jewish friend for that information), “[Of the] Root of Ahmad”, where “Ahmad” is a name given to prophet Mohammad, the founder of Islam. Going by that name alone, Ahmadinejad represents the hijacking of Iran to Ishmael’s interests just as Haman did to Amalek’s interests.
I wrote (Ishmael’s Spiritual Spawn, December 13, 2006) that Islam, although it claims to be a universal religion, is strongly tied to Arab cultural heritage. Again, this is not to say Arab culture is bad—I can never emphasize the point enough that my blog is about the fascistic global ideology of Islam and not about Arab people, language or culture—but the Islamization of Iran from the 7th century to our today constitutes cultural imperialism of the kind that, if perpetrated by a Western, Christian nation, would send the post-colonial Left hopping mad. This nation, once as proud and tolerant and prosperous as the Hindus, now stands facing Mecca five times a day, persecutes other religions inside it (the Zoroastrians and the Baha’is, for example) and is marching senselessly toward nuclear catastrophe, all because of adherence to a foreign ideology that uses Iran as a disposable vessel. To quote the father of the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (hat tip: Solomonia):
We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah…I say, let this land [Iran] burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant…
Thus much of a future does Islam have in store for Iran. Iran is being kept Islamic by the belief of Islam’s universality, as well as the provision of a faint echo of Zoroastrian messianism by the Shi’a Mahdi myth, but make no mistake: even if Iran were to be the sharpest sword of Islam, the Iranians would still have to face a cube in the Arabian desert, and the Caliph would still have to be a descendant of that 7th-century Arab merchant.
That conquest, in the 7th century, a few years after Mohammad’s death, was and still is a great blow to Iran’s pride. The medieval Persian poets, though Muslim, do not cease lamenting the subjugation of the Sassanid kingdom to a band of desert nomads. The Persian poetry of that time extols the delight of wine-drinking as if the Islamic conquest had never taken place. Ahmadinejad, in his speeches, tries to pander to Iranian nationalism, but I think any Iranian who is not Islamintoxicated knows the truth: he is leading the Iranian people to a needless war, a war serving the interests not of Iran but of Islam. The good relations Iran had with Israel during the time of the Shah were broken for no pragmatic reason, only because of Islamic fanaticism, because of the subservience of Iran to Islamic interests.
It is worthy to note, in addition, Saudi Arabia’s attempts to obstruct Iran. Both are Islamic theocracies. People might say it has to do with the Sunni–Shi’a split, but the Sunni and the Shi’a are known to unite when expedient (witness Sunni Hamas and Shi’a Hizbullah). The truth is, Saudi Arabia does not want those non-Arabs taking over the Islamic ummah. Similar to apostate Isaac Schrödinger’s descriptions of how Pakistani Muslims are ill-treated by Arab Muslims in Saudi Arabia, or to the outright massacre of black Muslims by Arab Muslims in Sudan, the religion of Islam, for all its claimed universality, will not relinquish the hegemony of its Arab patricians to the non-Arab plebeians lightly. Under Islam, the Iranian nation is looked down upon by the very nomads from the Arabian desert who conquered it more than thirteen centuries ago.
The Islamic Revolution of 1979 is a warning for the whole world, for it was enabled by the same mix of Western dhimmitude, Leftist useful idiotry and Islamic manipulation of them both as we find in the West today. US president Jimmy Carter enabled the revolution by ordering the Shah to soften his glove on the revolutionaries; he bears a huge part of the responsibility to that revolution, and the fact that he still pontificates on US foreign policy issues today, after that colossal failure, is nothing short of a scandal. The Communists of Iran, deeming the Shah a “tool of American capitalism”, joined forces with Khomeini to topple him. Whether they believed they would share in the rule of Iran with him or they planned to oust him once the Shah was toppled, the actual outcome was the takeover and purge of Iran by Khomeini. The Marxist useful idiots were, in the course of the 1980’s, imprisoned and executed by the thousands. Such is the end of the Left-Islam demonic convergence.
If this mortal threat toward Israel came from Saudi Arabia, I’d brush it off as, “Well, that’s Ishmael trying to kill his brother Isaac again, it’s only natural”; but coming from Iran, it is much more pitiful, for, as in the days of Esther, it does not come from the will of the Persian nation, but through the machinations of a non-Iranian man or a non-Iranian ideology using Iran as their tool. To the people of Iran, I say, paraphrasing a deceased Zoroastrian: you were the champions, my friends, and there’s no reason why you can’t be today, if only you shake off the invading ideology that is now intent on (see that Khomeini quote above) using your body to the death. It is my sincere wish for relations between us to return to what they were during the days of King Cyrus and the days of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.