Rabbi reverses himself: Iran, not Obama, is Haman

"My problem is President Obama seems to be making a deal that is very problematic with that Haman, and at the same time leaving Israel without a protector,” Riskin says.

By JTA
April 1, 2015 15:12
1 minute read.
US President Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama pauses during remarks at the dedication ceremony for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin reversed his earlier comparison of US President Barack Obama to the biblical villain Haman, saying that Iran — not the president — is comparable to the ancient enemy of the Jews.

In an interview Wednesday, Riskin, the American-born chief rabbi of the West Bank settlement of Efrat and the founder of New York City’s Lincoln Square Synagogue, told JTA that Obama “is causing Israel to be existentially endangered” in his pursuit of a nuclear deal with Iran. But the president, Riskin said, is not the equivalent of Haman.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


“Let me make it very clear: Haman is not, God forbid, President Obama,” Riskin told JTA. “Haman is Iran. My problem is President Obama seems to be making a deal that is very problematic with that Haman, and at the same time leaving Israel without a protector.”

In a speech Saturday night at Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue, Riskin compared Obama to Haman, the villain of the Book of Esther who plots, unsuccessfully, to kill Persia’s Jews.

“The president of the United States is lashing out at Israel, just like Haman lashed out at all the Jews,” Riskin said in the speech. “And I’m not making a political statement. That’s OK. I’m trying to make a Jewish statement.”

The Saturday statement was criticized by the North American rabbinic human rights organization T’ruah, which started an online petition calling on Riskin to apologize. As of Wednesday, it had 269 signatures.

On Wednesday, Riskin said he meant only to compare the personal animosity between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the hate between Haman and Mordechai, the Jewish hero of the Book of Esther.



“What happened with Persia was because Haman was personally piqued by Mordechai, he took it out on the Jewish people,” Riskin said. “That seems to be what was happening in America. President Obama was personally piqued when Netanyahu accepted an invitation from the Congress to speak. He said that would cause him to rethink the entire relationship of the United States to Israel.”

But Riskin told JTA he “never meant to compare frontally Haman and President Obama” and said there is no comparison between them.

Related Content

TORAH SCROLLS from the Iraqi Jewish community on display at the Babylonian Jewish Heritage Center
July 19, 2018
Iraqi Jewish Archive to stay in the US, propose senators

By JTA