World & Nation

Answering Purim question, Pompeo suggests Trump is on mission from God to save Jewish people

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits Lebanon, Beirut - 22 Mar 2019
Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo speaks March 22 at a news conference in Beirut, after leaving Jerusalem.
(Nabil Mounzer / EPA/Shutterstock)

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo embraced the idea that President Trump could be on a mission from God to save the Jewish people from a new Persian menace, responding to a reporter’s question concerning the Jewish holiday of Purim.

And perhaps befitting a holiday that observant Jews celebrate with merrymaking, mockery and satire, critics of the administration greeted the comparison with a round of guffaws.

Pompeo, currently visiting the Middle East, waded into biblical waters when asked by a local correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network, in an exclusive one-on-one interview Thursday: “Jews worldwide and here in Jerusalem are talking about the fact that Esther 2,500 years ago saved the Jewish people with God’s help from Haman,” the anti-Semitic grand vizier of the Persian Empire, who intended to kill the Jews. “Could it be that President Trump right now has been sort of raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from an Iranian menace?”

A man wears U.S. President Donald Trump’s mask during the Purim festival in Mea Shearim ultra-Orthod
A man wears a mask of President Trump during the Purim festival in the ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem on March 22, 2019.
(Oded Balilty / AP)

In the Purim tale, Esther, an assimilated Jewish woman married to Persian King Ahasuerus, who met her while conducting a beauty contest, succeeds through subterfuge in foiling Haman’s plans.

“As a Christian I certainly believe that’s possible,” Pompeo replied.

Pompeo, a devout evangelical, added that having visited 3,000-year-old tunnels beneath the Old City of Jerusalem, he’d seen the “remarkable history of the faith in this place and the work that our administration’s done to make sure that this democracy in the Middle East, that this Jewish state remains. I am confident that the Lord is at work here.”

Critics, however, quickly said that Pompeo appeared to be confused by the Book of Esther, noting myriad differences between the story’s Persian queen and the current president of the United States.


“Esther was loyal,” tweeted Dan Shapiro, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel. “Esther was discreet. Esther was humble. Esther rarely tweeted insults of dead war heroes. Esther’s courage in saving our people enhances the fact that she was a role model in many other ways.”