Bagrawiyah, Sudan – More than 200km from the Sudanese capital Khartoum, the remains of an ancient city rise from the arid and inhospitable terrain like a science-fiction film set. Nestled between sand dunes, the secluded pyramids seem to have been forgotten by the modern world, with no nearby restaurants or hotels to cater to tourists.
There are an estimated 9,000 Jews, who remain in Iran today. Many of them live in the capital Tehran. But others have remained in ancient cities like Esfahan, Shiraz, Tabriz and Hamedan.
In Esfahan, not far from from Al-Aqsa Mosque along Palestine Street, stands a synagogue but is hidden from the street behind a one-story high concrete fence.
Along Chahar Bagh Street, Jewish shops openly sell their wares. One shop owner said that many of his relatives have moved to Israel and the US. But for him, Iran is still home.
In his March 3 speech before the US Congress, where he made the case against a US nuclear deal with Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recalled the life of Esther, also known as Haddasah, and the Persian plot to “destroy the Jewish people 2,500 years ago.”
According to the biblical narrative, Esther discovered the plot and ordered the hanging of the Persian viceroy Haman and his sons. That part of Esther’s biblical story became the basis of Purim, one of the most important Jewish celebrations. This year, this festival of salvation is celebrated today, March 4.
Like Haman, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei is also bent on destroying the Jewish people and their homeland of Israel, Netanyahu said.
What Netanyahu did not mention was that Esther, was married to Ahasuerus, also referred to as Xerxes, a Persian ruler of the pre-Islamic Achaemenid Empire. Following her marriage, Esther, an…
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