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May 21, 2012 6

New Arabic Translation of Talmud Promotes Anti-Semitic Narratives

Update: The Anti-Defamation League pub­licly crit­i­cized the trans­la­tion and called on the Hashemite King­dom of Jor­dan to take steps to cor­rect the mis­lead­ing anti-Semitic nar­ra­tives in the intro­duc­tion to the Ara­bic trans­la­tion of the Talmud.

A newly released Ara­bic trans­la­tion of the Tal­mud – the first of its kind – con­tains an intro­duc­tion that seeks to revive age-old anti-Semitic con­spir­a­cies about the Tal­mud, includ­ing the accu­sa­tion that the ancient text reveals the racist char­ac­ter of the Jew­ish peo­ple. The intro­duc­tion also attempts to paint Israel as the modern-day embod­i­ment of the alleged racist ide­olo­gies found in the Tal­mud.

The trans­la­tion, which was pub­lished by the Mid­dle East Stud­ies Cen­ter (MESC), a Jordan-based think tank, specif­i­cally cou­ples anti-Semitic nar­ra­tives with anti-Israel pro­pa­ganda: “The dis­crim­i­na­tion which Arabs in Israel face is an exten­sion of the racist spirit included in many Tal­mud texts and explanations.”

In an effort to claim that the Tal­mud is an inher­ently racist text, the intro­duc­tion repeat­edly seeks to exploit and take out of con­text cer­tain pas­sages in the Tal­mud, includ­ing decep­tively refer­ring to injunc­tions that seem to “prove” that Jews regard non-Jews as infe­rior. The intro­duc­tion, for exam­ple, notes,
“These texts con­firm the racist and hos­tile per­cep­tion toward the non-Jews, espe­cially those who threaten the ‘cho­sen nation’ and stand in the way of its ambi­tions and hopes. There is no doubt that Israel is the best exam­ple of this racist posi­tion, both in the level of its daily crimes against the Pales­tini­ans and the level of its rejec­tion and con­tempt for inter­na­tional res­o­lu­tions and laws. For what applies to other coun­tries in the world does not apply to con­tem­po­rary Israel, as it is unique…Jews, accord­ing to this racist posi­tion [of the Tal­mud], are per­mit­ted to do what is not per­mit­ted for non-Jews.”
Else­where in the intro­duc­tion, the reader is informed that the Tal­mud claims that non-Jews are inhu­man, may be tricked or cheated, that it is per­mis­si­ble to kill them, and so on.
The con­clu­sion of the intro­duc­tion neatly merges the pub­lish­ers’ anti-Semitic and anti-Israel pro­cliv­i­ties:  “The Tal­mu­dic her­itage has a sig­nif­i­cant impact on the for­mu­la­tion of Jew­ish iden­tity based on holy [prin­ci­ples of] racial isolation…It [the Tal­mud] also estab­lished the extreme posi­tions that advo­cate hatred toward non-Jews, the vio­la­tion of their rights and loot­ing of their lands and prop­erty.” The pub­lisher then refers to the Zion­ist movement’s alleged “crimes” against the Pales­tin­ian peo­ple as an exam­ple of the Talmud’s val­i­da­tion of racist policies.
MESC, estab­lished in 1991, is a Jordan-based polit­i­cal think tank that focuses on the Mid­dle East and North Africa. The Cen­ter has a spe­cial unit on Israeli affairs, which mon­i­tors Israel, Zion­ist orga­ni­za­tions and Hebrew-language media. MESC is highly crit­i­cal of Israel, and orga­nized a con­fer­ence last year on the Pales­tin­ian uni­lat­eral dec­la­ra­tion efforts to which they invited senior Mus­lim Broth­er­hood lead­ers as well as Hamas officials.
Al-Jazeera has specif­i­cally pro­moted this book as a con­tri­bu­tion to the “estab­lish­ment of Ara­bic lan­guage Jew­ish stud­ies” as well as claim­ing that the trans­la­tion “iden­ti­fies the fea­tures of the Jew­ish char­ac­ter that blend ele­ments of racial supe­ri­or­ity with Mosaic teachings.”

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