Dateline: Shushan, Persian Empire, 600 BCE

March 16

Shushan, Persian Empire

A row has broken out between the International Hillel student group, which sponsors campus Hillel organizations in one hundred and twenty seven countries from Hodu to Kush, and a group of students at Shushan University, who have declared their Jewish student organization to be an “Open Hillel.”

The controversy began when the Shushan University Hillel agreed to co-sponsor a talk with Students for Justice in Samaria to be given by Haman the Aggagite, minister of King Ahashverosh, on the subject of why all the Jews of Paras and Madai should be killed.  Co-sponsoring such a talk violates International Hillel’s guidelines, which specify that “while local Hillels have wide latitude regarding speakers, any group using the Hillel name may not sponsor a talk by anyone who advocates genocide against the children of Israel.”

Ploni Almoni, president of the Shushan University Hillel, told this reporter that “our board feels that we need to rescue Hillel from neoconservatives like Mordechai; I think Haman will explain that if Mordechai would just bow down to him, and Jews in general would stop being such a stiff-necked people, we could all get along.  Haman will also speak more generally about the root causes of the edict against the Jews. Some Jewish students sympathize with Haman’s perspective, and dissent and diversity of opinion is one of our most important Jewish values, and has helped our religion and culture retain its vitality and meaning throughout the ages.”

Asked about rumors that Queen Esther was ready to denounce Haman to the King, Almoni responded, “King Ahashverosh knows that the queen represents older Jews who are more right-wing; young, Progressive Jews like ourselves who believe in free discourse on all subjects within the Hillel community are much more reasonable, and don’t want to ‘denounce’ anyone just for failing a political litmus test.”

Mordechai could not be reached for comment, but sources tell the PJP that with the king’s permission, he is planning to arm Jews across the kingdom to defend themselves from Haman’s minions.  A spokesperson for Yud Street, requesting anonymity, retorted that Mordechai is a “warmonger.” Instead of trying to resolve the conflict by military means, Mordechai should request that King Ahashverosh set up a peace conference between him and Haman, because “negotiations are the only answer.”

David Bernstein is the George Mason University Foundation Professor at the George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, VA.
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Ilya Somin | March 16