Contemporary Hamans and their predecessors
March 22, 2019
This past week we celebrated the holiday of Purim. It is a festive holiday because it commemorates the victory of the Jewish citizens of Persia over their fellow citizens who were given license by the king’s decree to destroy the Jews in their midst.
How did it come about that the people of the Persian Empire, who peacefully lived side-by-side with their Jewish neighbors for many generations, suddenly were manipulated to follow the king’s decree to vanquish their fellow citizens of the Jewish faith?
And a more poignant question is what led the king, who was pre-occupied with his own pleasures of the flesh and who reigned over a peaceful and apparently contented Persian society, to issue such a decree that clearly would endanger the stability of his kingdom?
The answer to both these questions is simple: a man named Haman. Haman was a highly ranked and power-hungry government official, who was the influential and trusted adviser to the king. From this high and trusted position and his quest for personal power, recognition and honor at any cost, he was able to manipulate the king with false representations to create suspicions in the king’s mind that the Jews within the kingdom were disloyal, a threat to his reign, and needed to be eliminated.
Haman’s plot to alienate and ultimately destroy the Jews was motivated, according to the biblical account in the Book of Esther, by his petty jealously of Mordechai who refused to bow down before him; and his subsequent humiliation when the king ironically decided to have Haman lead the procession to publicly honor Mordechai for foiling a plot to assassinate the king.
The intervention of Queen Esther on behalf of her people, who exposed Haman’s treachery, persuaded the king to issue a second decree to permit the Jewish people to take up arms to successfully defend themselves.
In the history of the Jewish people there have been many Hamans down through the ages who have sought to alienate the Jewish people from the societies in which they have resided peacefully with their non-Jewish fellow citizens.
These Hamans have always disregarded the Jewish contributions to the welfare of the communities and nations in which they peaceably lived in order to satisfy their own petty jealousies, gain political advantage, blame the Jews for their own short-comings, and play out their own fears, insecurities and quest for power by seeking to alienate the Jews from the general population.
Today, the Hamans come in all genders and backgrounds disguised in more sophisticated costumes and roles. They masquerade as congressional representatives from Minnesota, Michigan, and New York. They take positions of leadership in organizations to fight oppression where they themselves become the oppressors. They cloak themselves in pseudo-respectability and try to hide their hatred of Jews in euphemisms and metaphors, which turn out to be the same old tropes of anti-Semitism.
They hide behind the shields of racial, ethnic and feminist victimhood to avoid criticism of their own prejudices, racism and ethnic misogyny. They use American freedom and democracy in an attempt to destroy American freedom and democracy. Social media has magnified the menace they represent.
These Hamans may have their day in the media and in the halls of Congress, but the American people are too smart, too devoted to the Constitution and to their heritage of freedom and fair play to follow these Hamans.
Just as the biblical Haman did not prevail and was hanged from the same gallows he prepared for the Jews; and just as the subsequent Hamans of history were defeated, these modern day Hamans of whatever gender and background, and whatever manifestations of hate they embrace, will be consumed by their own evil intentions.
In you wish to comment or respond you can reach me at email@example.com. Please do so in a rational, thoughtful, respectful and civil manner.
Mel Pearlman holds B.S. & M.S. degrees in physics as well as a J.D. degree and initially came to Florida in 1966 to work on the Gemini and Apollo space programs. He has practiced law in Central Florida since 1972. He has served as president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando; was a charter board member, first Vice President and pro-bono legal counsel of the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida, as well as holding many other community leadership positions.