January 30, 2020 — New York
American Jewish Committee (AJC), the leading global Jewish advocacy group, today launched a groundbreaking Arabic-language online video series aimed at increasing understanding of the Jewish people in the Arab world.
Titled ‘An al-Yahud, or “About the Jews,” the videos will focus on various aspects of contemporary Jewish life, Jewish history, and current issues of importance to the Jewish people. They are presented in a manner designed to be relevant to Arabic-speaking audiences.
The inaugural two-minute video released today (available also in English), an animated short, offers viewers an introduction to the Jewish people, its history, and its diversity. The second video, about the history of Muslim-Jewish relations, will be released in mid-February. Additional videos will follow every few weeks.
AJC also launched Arabic-language pages on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, which will be used to promote ‘An al-Yahud and foster conversation around the topics addressed in the videos.
“AJC has long been a pioneer in cultivating closer ties between the Jewish people and Arab and Muslim communities,’” said AJC CEO David Harris.
“This innovative new video series will enable us to expand the conversation by telling the Jewish story to the Arab world from a Jewish perspective, which many viewers may never have heard before. By harnessing the power of social media, we will seek to directly engage hundreds of millions of Arabic-speakers in the Middle East, in North Africa, and across the globe, laying the foundation, we hope, for deeper ties between Jews and Arabs in the future.”
The launch of ‘An al-Yahud is part of AJC’s extensive and long-standing engagement with the Arab and Muslim worlds. It comes less than a week after the historic visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau of the most senior delegation of Muslim leaders ever to tour any Nazi death camp, an event organized by AJC and accompanied by the organization’s senior leadership.
“While our joint visit to Auschwitz with the Muslim World League secretary general represented a watershed moment in AJC’s engagement with Arab leaders, this new initiative offers us an unprecedented opportunity to reach those in the Arab world who may never have a chance to meet a Jew, including the many millions of young people who may be curious to hear a Jewish perspective on the subjects they encounter on social media,” said Harris.
For more than three decades, AJC leaders have regularly traveled to the Middle East and North Africa to meet with Arab and Muslim leaders and exchange views on matters of mutual concern, among them the fight against extremism, Muslim-Jewish relations, and deepening ties between Israel and Arab states. In the United States, AJC established the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council (MJAC) with the Islamic Society of North America, offering Muslim and Jewish leaders a platform for advocacy on combating hate crimes, religious discrimination, and on other American domestic issues of common concern.
“For us, the single most important interreligious challenge in the 21st century is the transformation of Muslim-Jewish relations,” said Harris. “As AJC continues its deeply-rooted commitment to promoting Christian-Jewish relations, we also embrace the immensely significant challenge of deepening friendship and cooperation with Muslims around the world.”