September 14, 2021 — New York
American Jewish Committee (AJC) today released an Arabic-language video about Israel’s thriving diversity and the coexistence of religious and ethnic groups in the Jewish state, part of the organization’s popular Arabic video series, ‘An al-Yahud (“About the Jews”).
The new animated short film, “Is Israel Only for Jews?” presents the reality of life within the State of Israel, home to a vast range of religious and ethnic groups. Although Jews make up a majority of Israel’s citizens, approximately one out of every five Israelis is Arab, and all citizens are afforded the same rights and freedoms under the law. The Israeli government pays the salaries of imams and funds the construction of mosques in Israel, and Jerusalem is home to churches of almost every Christian denomination in the world. The film highlights the full participation of Arab citizens in Israeli government, business, and academia and notes that while Israelis seldom agree on government policies, the right to protest and due process are ensured for all. The film is also being released in English.
“As the Arab world displays greater openness to Israel, it is important that perceptions of the Jewish state reflect its remarkable pluralism and diversity,” said AJC CEO David Harris. “Israel is, at once, the homeland of the Jewish people and a thriving democracy that is home to more than 1.8 million Arab citizens, all of whom enjoy equal rights and freedoms.
While “Is Israel Only for Jews?” does not center on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it acknowledges that the conflict “requires meaningful and lasting resolution,” while challenging the notion common in the Arab world that Israelis are all Jewish or that Arabs in the Jewish state are oppressed. The film acknowledges inequalities and outstanding social challenges within Israel, as well as the democratic tools all citizens of Israel possess to address them.
“The barriers to peace between Israel and the Palestinians are political, not religious or ethnic,” added Harris. “Muslims, Christians, Jews, Druze, Bahai, and people of other faiths live, work, and worship freely in the Jewish state, and Arab Israelis are prominent leaders in government, business, national defense, and many other fields. We hope this new film will help promote Arab-Israeli peace by upending stereotypes about Israel and fostering greater understanding of the Jewish state throughout the Arab world.”
The film is the sixth in AJC’s Arabic-language video series, ‘An al-Yahud (“About the Jews”), which has been viewed by tens of millions of Arabic-speakers around the world. The top locations of the videos’ viewers include Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia, the West Bank and Gaza, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. The previous five videos focused on the origins and beliefs of the Jewish people, the history of Muslim-Jewish relations, the Holocaust, Jewish ties to Jerusalem, and the antisemitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
‘An al-Yahud builds on AJC’s unique, extensive, and longstanding engagement with the Arab and Muslim worlds. As the leader in the Jewish world, 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 the United States, AJC established 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.
In parallel to the Arabic video series, AJC launched Arabic-language social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, which to date have drawn more than 600,000 followers. Encouraged by this success, the global Jewish advocacy group recently launched AJC Farsi, a new social media effort to reach Iranians in Iran and around the world.