July 12, 2022 — New York
American Jewish Committee (AJC) today released “What is Antisemitism?” (“ma hiya mu’adat as-samiya?”), an Arabic-language video that is the latest effort of the leading global Jewish advocacy organization to raise awareness in the Arab world about the varied expressions and violent impact of Jew-hatred. The video also is available in English.
What is Antisemitism? is the eighth episode of AJC’s Arabic language educational web series, ‘An al-Yahud (“About the Jews”), launched in 2020. The new video briefly explains the long history of antisemitism and its present-day manifestations. It also explores the varied expressions of anti-Jewish discourse in the Arab world, including adaptations of modern European tropes, Jew-hatred masquerading as anti-Israel sentiment, and misappropriation of Islamic sources by extremists. The video recognizes allies in the Arab world and ends with a call to action. Viewers are asked to take steps to better understand Judaism and Jews, and to use that knowledge to actively counter antisemitism whenever and wherever it appears.
The video also points out that some ideologies promoting hatred of Jews endanger Muslims as well. The 1492 Reconquista of Spain led to the forced conversion and expulsion of both Jews and Muslims. And, in our contemporary world, the white supremacist ideology that motivated the terrorist who massacred 11 Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue, in Pittsburgh, in 2018 also impelled the terrorist attack in 2019 on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which at least 50 people were murdered.
“At AJC, we have always believed that if one religious, racial, or ethnic group is targeted because of its identity, then we are all at risk,” said AJC CEO David Harris. “That’s why we have always stood up against attacks on other communities and, as antisemitism, explained in this video, rises around the world, we look to more and more of our brothers and sisters of other faiths, including Muslims, to stand with us.”
The ’An al-Yahud series 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. Launched in early 2020, the project’s Arabic-language social media channels now have more than 800,000 followers.
The previous seven 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; and a profile of American Jews. 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, 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 April 2019, AJC and the Muslim World League signed a memorandum of understanding that led, in January 2020, to an historic joint visit of Muslims and Jews to Auschwitz, the infamous Nazi German death camp. The Muslim-Jewish delegation was led by David Harris and Muslim World League (MWL) Secretary General Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, whose remarks in Arabic, in Poland, were perhaps the most powerful refutation of Holocaust denial and antisemitism ever heard from such a prominent Muslim figure.
In the U.S., AJC established, in 2016, the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council (MJAC) with Muslim and Jewish community leaders, offering a platform for advocacy on combating hate crimes, religious discrimination, and other domestic issues of common concern.