The Power of Propaganda
In recent weeks, several celebrities have achieved notoriety for making anti-Semitic slurs. Their slurs were far from original and, thank God, far from potent. Indeed, such attacks against the Jewish people are hardly new. Even the authors of the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion, however, were not original in their intentions.
The first great anti-Semitic “big lie” came from Haman. Not only did he tell the king that the Jews ignored civil law and followed their own Jewish law, but, according to the Midrash Esther Rabbah 7, Haman wrote a letter of classic propaganda in King Achashverosh’s name to convince the local citizens to slaughter the Jews. The following are some interesting excerpts from the Midrash:
…a contemptible people who are arrogant, seek our harm and who curse the king. And how do they curse us? They say (Psalms 10:16): ‘God reigns forever; the nations shall be banished from His land.’ They also say (Psalms 149:7): ‘To inflict vengeance upon the nations, reproof upon the peoples.’ They acknowledge no gratitude to those who have bestowed good upon them…
Haman demonstrated his knowledge of Jewish texts and then took the quotes out of context in order to create a mythology that the Jews were blood-thirsty.
The letter goes on to refer to the historic events of the Bible (Enslavement, the Canaanite General Sisera, the defeat of Amalek, etc.) turning them into events of Jewish aggression and inferring that the Jews used sorcery to win battles against their enemies. Regarding the Holy Temple, The Midrash says that Haman wrote:
…I do not know what they had inside that house. When they prepare to wage war, they enter it and practice sorcery, and when they emerge they slaughter and destroy the world…
Additionally, Haman reassured the Persians that God had turned against the Jews, and he then encouraged their animosity by stating that the Jews “ridicule us and the faith we place in our gods.”
Without question, Haman was a master propagandist.
Translation of Midrash Rabbah 7 taken from The Book of Our Heritage by Eliyahu Kitov.
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