JERUSALEM, Israel - Less than a week after Israeli Navy commandos intercepted a German freighter carrying 50 tons of Iranian-manufactured weaponry, Israelis are celebrating an earlier victory over an existential threat from the same place - Iran or Persia.
The Festival of Purim marks the deliverance of the Jews from Haman, the Persian prime minister who plotted to destroy every Jewish man, woman and child in the empire's 127 provinces "from India to Ethiopia."
This year, Purim began on Saturday evening, March 19, at sunset. Two days earlier, many Jews observed the fast of Esther, just as the Jewish queen commanded her handmaidens and cousin, Mordechai, in the fourth century B.C. during the reign of the Persian King Ashasuerus.
Purim is traditionally a festive holiday, one especially geared toward children, who walk through the streets in colorful costumes, set off with masks, wigs or painted faces.
On Purim, it's traditional to give gifts to the poor and to eat a special triangular-shaped pastry called oznei Haman (Hama's ears) in Israel and hamentashen in the U.S.
The story itself - recorded in 10 chapters in the Book of Esther - is so intriguing that even young children listen attentively as its being read in homes, synagogues and schools, poised to stamp their feet, twirl their noisemakers and boo every time they hear the wicked Haman's name.
Over the past several years, Iranian President Mahmoud has become known as the modern-day Haman because of his oft-repeated threats to wipe Israel off the map.
Rabbi Avi Shafran called the similarities between Ahmadinejad and Haman "more than passing irony."
"There's more than passing irony in the fact that the most infamous anti-Semite of antiquity, the hater whose downfall Jews celebrate on Purim, was a prominent official of an empire in what's now Iran," Shafran said in an op-ed piece entitled "Ahmadinejad, Haman and U.S.," published in the Jewish Standard.
Meanwhile, since the collapse of the Mubarak regime in Egypt, the rising anti-Israel rhetoric does not bode well for the Jewish state, where the Muslim Brotherhood is the largest and most organized "opposition" group.
The Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood is stirring the pot in the Hashemite Kingdom, while in Lebanon, the Iranian proxy, Hezbollah, brought down the Western-backed government of Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri.
The common thread among embattled Arab leaders from Tunisia to Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Jordan and others is blaming Israel for the uprisings. Not surprisingly, Ahmadinejad - and Haman - did the same.
The question for our times is will Ahmadinejad's fate be the same as Haman's?