Netanyahu gave Obama Book of Esther as 'background reading'

March 8, 2012 at 5:07 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 8 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu underlined his position on Iran with the gift he gave U.S. President Barack Obama -- a copy of the Book of Esther.

The biblical story recounts the genocidal plot against the Jews concocted by a Persian government official. Modern-day Iran encompasses ancient Persia and the holiday commemorating the events, Purim, was celebrated Thursday.

The Jewish Daily Forward reported this week Netanyahu presented the book to Obama during their White House meeting Monday.

"I'm sure the president welcomes any gift he might receive from the prime minister of Israel," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Thursday, adding he had not discussed the issue with the president.

The Forward quoted aides to Netanyahu as saying the book was presented as "background reading" on Iran.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders repeatedly have vowed to destroy Israel. Israel, the United States and other countries currently are pressuring Iran to give up what appears to be its quest for nuclear weapons. Iran has insisted its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes but repeatedly has foiled efforts by U.N. nuclear watchdogs to inspect its most secret facilities.

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