January 18, 2023 — New York
American Jewish Committee (AJC) today released “What Jews Think About Non-Jews” (kayfa yaraa al-yahud ghayr al-yahud), the 10th installment in the leading global Jewish advocacy organization’s Arabic language educational video series, ‘An al-Yahud (“About the Jews”). The video also is available in English.
The new Arabic video seeks to correct common misconceptions about Jews, Judaism, and Jewish peoplehood by addressing four myths prevalent in the Arab world. The narrator points out that throughout history, one or more of the featured myths has led to “hatred, false accusations of conspiracy and violence” against Jews.
The myths covered in the three-minute animated video are: Jews believe that everyone must become Jewish; Jews believe that God chose them and scorned everyone else; Jews seek to destroy Christianity and Islam; and Jews want to control non-Jews. The narrator dissects each misconception, explaining why it is false and harmful. In turn, the video offers the vision of Judaism as honoring “the holiness of each person” and the reality that “Jews around the world celebrate human diversity.”
“Classical tropes about Jews and Judaism have long stoked hatred and violence. By carefully explaining, in Arabic, why long-held myths about Jews are fundamentally and factually wrong, progress can be made toward advancing Jewish-Muslim understanding and combating antisemitism,” said AJC CEO Ted Deutch. “The ‘An al-Yahud series in general, and this episode in particular, offer an opportunity to replace ignorance of Jews, and even suspicion about us, with an authentic Jewish voice that seeks cooperation and mutual respect.”
Dispelling the mistaken view of Jewish control in the world, the video explains why oversized attention is placed on Jews. “In truth, Jews stand out because they are a small people who have maintained their identity and practice wherever they have lived” in the world, it notes.
The video emphasizes that respect for other faiths is a Jewish value, that Judaism honors people of other faiths and seeks cooperation with them and that “destroying another religion, including Christianity and Islam, is not a Jewish value.”
The video addresses head-on the fact that many in the Arab world believe Jews see themselves as better than others and the exclusive arbiters of divine love and divine truth. Rather, it tells viewers, “Judaism mandates that Jews honor the dignity of everyone.”
Clarifying the meaning of the term “Chosen People,” the video explains that “Jewish tradition teaches that all people have a unique purpose and that Jews were also chosen to play a special role,” as a light unto the nations. “When Jews prayed for a return to their homeland, they also prayed for a messianic age of peace for all peoples, one in which all nations would worship in the holy city of Jerusalem side by side.”
The ’An al-Yahud series, launched in 2020, has been viewed by tens of millions of Arabic speakers, including large audiences in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia, the West Bank and Gaza, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. The project’s Arabic-language social media channels now have more than 835,000 followers, reaching between 1.5 million and 2 million people per month.
The previous nine videos focused on the origins and beliefs of the Jewish people; the history of Muslim-Jewish relations; the Holocaust; Jewish ties to Jerusalem; the antisemitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion; Israel’s remarkable diversity; a profile of American Jews, the basics of antisemitism, and what Jews think about peace. Each film also is available in English.
‘An al-Yahud builds on AJC’s extensive, longstanding engagement with the Arab and Muslim worlds. AJC representatives have regularly met during the past three decades with Arab and Muslim leaders across the Middle East and North Africa to exchange views on matters of mutual concern, among them the fight against extremism, advancing Muslim-Jewish relations, and deepening ties between Israel and Arab states. In 2021, AJC established a permanent presence in the Arab world, opening the Sidney Lerner Center for Arab-Jewish Understanding in Abu Dhabi.
In the U.S., AJC, the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people, established, in 2016 the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council with Muslim and Jewish community leaders, offering a platform for advocacy to combat hate crimes, religious discrimination, and other domestic policy issues of common concern.