Iran FM accuses Netanyahu of ‘fake history’ over ‘Persians tried to destroy Jews’ comments
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused Benjamin Netanyahu of resorting to “fake history” and of “selling bigoted lies” about Iran after the Israeli Prime Minister said Iran had been trying to “destroy” the Jewish people for some 2,500 years.
The row started over a video address by Netanyahu to Jewish children on the holiday of Purim.
In it, the Israeli PM read from the Book of Esther in a synagogue in a town of Caesarea, northern Israel.
According to legends, Esther, who was the Jewish queen to the Persian king Ahasuerus, thwarted a genocide of Jewish people.
Purim is a traditional Jewish holiday that marks the saving of the Jewish people from Haman, a vizier in the ancient Persian Empire.
“In Persia, they wanted to kill us but it didn't work,” Netanyahu said.
“Today, too, Persians are trying to destroy us, but today, too, it will not work.”
Netanyahu’s comments did not go unnoticed by Iranian authorities.
On Sunday, Zarif tweeted that Netanyahu is “resorting to fake history and [is] falsifying Torah” …in order to “sell bigoted lies” against Iran.
The Israeli PM “not only distorts the realities of today, but also distorts the past — including Jewish scripture.”
“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,” he said.
“The Book of Esther tells how Xerxes I [Persian king who lived in 5th century BC] saved Jews by a plot hatched by Haman the Agagite,…. during the time of Cyrus the Great [6th century BC], 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,” he said.
Netanyahu’s comments were also blasted by Iranian Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani, who said the Israeli PM “distorted the Iranians' pre-Islam historical era and attempted to misrepresent events,” as cited by Iranian Fars news agency.
“Apparently, he neither is familiar with the history nor has studied the Torah,” Larijani said on Sunday.
Last week, Netanyahu similarly spoke out against Iran during a meeting with the Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying that Persia has been trying to kill Jews since 2,500 years ago.
“Today there is an attempt and the continuation of Persia, Iran, to destroy the Jewish state,” Netanyahu added.
Putin then noted that “we now live in a different world” and suggested discussing actual up-to-date problems in the region.