Monday, 13 March 2017

The Jewish festival of Purim took place over the weekend. Celebrated each year, it commemorates the salvation of the Jews from the tyrant Haman, who planned to exterminate them. Like many of the stories Jews tell themselves about their history and peoplehood, however, this one has some truth-related issues. The main one is that there is no evidence Haman ever existed, much less that he planned to persecute or exterminate the Jews. It appears to be a completely made up story, possibly adapted from earlier Oriental fables.

The Purim festival is based on the account in the Book of Esther in the Bible. A short version of the story is this:

A Jewish noble called Mordecai lives under the rule of a viceroy called Haman. Haman, in turn, is subordinate to the emperor Ahasuerus (identified with Xerxes, the Persian ruler who invaded Greece, depicted in the film 300). Mordecai the Jew refuses to bow to Haman because Jews don't do that. Haman becomes angry at this and plans to exterminate the Jews in response to their conceit and also because Jews had killed his family in a previous genocide. Haman asks permission to exterminate the Jews.
And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king's laws: therefore it is not for the king's profit to suffer them. 9 If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king's treasuries. 10 And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews' enemy. 11 And the king said unto Haman, The silver is given to thee, the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee.  
...And the letters were sent by posts into all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth* month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey.
Things don't look good for Mordecai or the Jews. Fortunately, some time before Mordecai had pimped out his cousin (Esther) - whom he had raised as his daughter, her parents having died - to Xerxes as a member of his harem. He then got Esther to persuade Xerxes to execute Haman, appoint Mordecai as viceroy instead, and then allow the Jews to exterminate their enemies.
Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey, 12 Upon one day in all the provinces of king Ahasuerus, namely, upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth* month, which is the month Adar. 13 The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, and that the Jews should be ready* against that day to avenge themselves on their enemies. 14 So the posts that rode upon mules and camels went out, being hastened and pressed on by the king's commandment. And the decree was given at Shushan the palace. 15 And Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a garment of fine linen and purple: and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad. 16 The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honour. 17 And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.
Purim, then, is, at root, a celebration of genocide against non-Jews.

This may be dismissed as irrelevant, obscure history, or rather a myth in which the only person known to have any historical reality was Xerxes (whose marital history is also known and does not correspond to the fable). That would be a mistake. Jews are raised on the story of Haman and make constant reference to it even today.

Jews are taught this prayer, particularly with reference to Haman.
It is this (promise) that has maintained our ancestors and us. That not only one has risen against us, to destroy us, but in every generation they rise up to destroy us, but The Holy One, Blessed Be He, saves us from their hands.
The effect of the Purim fable is to nurture a narcissistic sense of victimhood in Jews as well as suspicion of, and animus towards, non-Jews. It's also noteworthy that, in the story, both Mordecai and Esther initially concealed the fact that they were Jews, so the story contains an implicit validation of deceitfulness.

I also find it troubling that the historical falsehood of the Purim story is known, even to Jews. There are almost no serious scholars who still maintain that it has anything but the most tenuous connection to truth. Yet Jews don't seem to mind the fact that one of their principal celebrations is based on an outright lie. It brings to mind the Holocaust con man who, having been caught out, proclaimed: "It was real in my mind".

Jews, in general, seem to have a disregard for objective truth that is striking to the European mind. I am reminded of the Imran Firasat episode. Firasat claimed to be a Muslim apostate facing expulsion from Spain because he had dared to criticise Islam. I demonstrated fairly conclusively that he was a con man and, very likely, a murderer who had fled Indonesia to escape murder charges then simply made up his story about being an Islam critic to win some support in the west. Even after I had proved he was a fraudster, however, the Counterjewhad movement embraced him and, as far as I know, still does. They don't seem to care if he's a liar and murderer, as long as he's useful to the game they're playing. It's quite astonishing.

The whole idea of Jewish peoplehood seems to revolve around various persecution fables, many of which have little or no connection to demonstrable truth.



  2. Gilad Atzmon casts a critical eye on Purim and the Book of Esther in Chapter 19 of The Wandering Who? The chapter appears, with slightly different wording here and there, on Atzmon’s website, beginning at the subheading ‘Book of Esther’. He writes: ‘the historical accuracy of the Book of Esther is in fact largely disputed by most modern Bible scholars. The lack of clear corroboration of any of the Book’s details with what is known of Persian history from classical sources has led scholars to conclude that the story is mostly or even totally fictional.’

    He adds: ‘Interestingly, the Book of Esther (in the Hebrew version of the Bible) is one of only two books of the Bible that do not directly mention God (the other is Song of Songs). As in the Holocaust religion, in the Book of Esther it is the Jews who believe in themselves, in their own power, in their uniqueness, sophistication, ability to conspire, ability to take over kingdoms, ability to save themselves. The Book of Esther is all about empowerment. It conveys the essence and metaphysics of Jewish power.’