Iran's FM Accuses Netanyahu of 'Falsifying Torah,' Resorting to 'Fake History'

Rejecting Netanyahu's Purim analogy, Javad Zarif says Iran saved Jews three times in history; Netanyahu responds: 'Who are they kidding?'

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif delivers his speech during the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 19, 2017.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif delivers his speech during the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 19, 2017. MICHAELA REHLE/REUTERS

A day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared between the story of the Jewish holiday of Purim and the threat posed by Iran, Iran's Foreign Minister Javed Zarif responded by accusing him of "falsifying Torah" and resorting to "fake history."

On Saturday evening, Netanyahu tweeted a video from the ceremonial reading of the Book of Esther from his local synagogue in Cesaria. In the video, Netanyahu tells the story of Purim to young children. "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 made similar comments during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday. After Putin wished Jews in Israel and in Russia a happy Purim, Netanyahu told him that 2,500 years ago, ancient Persia tried to destroy the Jewish people, but failed, and that's why Jews mark the holiday of Purim.

"Today there is an attempt and the continuation of Persia, Iran, to destroy the Jewish state," Netanyahu added.

On Sunday evening, Zarif's response arrived in the form of a tweet: "To sell bigoted lies against a nation which has saved Jews three times, Netanyahu resorting to fake history & falsifying Torah. Force of habit."

"The Book of Esther tells how Xerxes I saved Jews by a plot hatched by Haman the Agagite," he wrote, adding that "again, during the time of Cyrus the Great, 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."

UPDATE: Netanyahu has since responded to Zarif's remark, tweeting on Monday evening: "Iran's FM speaks of tolerance while the regime hangs gays, jails journalists and calls for Israel's annihilation. Who are they kidding?"