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.”