Shmuel Rosner asks me via e-mail why I left out Haman from the list of Amalek's successors in my Times op-ed today. Amalek is the eternal, symbolic enemy of the Jews, the adversary who seeks Jewish annihilation. Haman, the villian of Purim, the Persian vizier whose plot to murder the Jews was thwarted by Mordechai and Esther, is considered to be the model of Amalek-like behavior, so Rosner asks, justifiably, why I didn't include him, but did include Nebuchadnezzar, Hitler, Stalin and all the rest. The reason is simple: Haman probably didn't exist. The story is a metaphor, as best as anyone can tell. The Amaleks on my list were real.

There's a group of people who argue that Jews are unjustifably paranoid about anti-Semitism. I think the paranoia is more-or-less a rational response to historical reality. Since Haman isn't part of historical reality (though he is a part of the Jewish narrative reality) it seemed appropriate to leave him off the list.

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