American Jewish Committee (AJC) today released “What Do Jews Think About Peace?” (“kayfa yara al-yahud al-salaam”), an informative three-minute video in Arabic that elucidates the high value that Jews and Judaism place on the pursuit of peace. The video also is available in English.

What Do Jews Think About Peace? is the ninth episode of AJC’s Arabic language educational web series, ‘An al-Yahud (“About the Jews”), launched in 2020. The new video explains the teachings about peace that are integral to Judaism and have underpinned Israeli society and policy since the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948.

For thousands of years, rabbis and scholars have imparted the Jewish values of pursuing peace and justice through compromise as the best means to resolve conflict. The word “peace” is mentioned more than 200 times in the Torah, 10,000 times in the works of ancient rabbis, and 30,000 times in books of Jewish law.

The video emphasizes that this Jewish tenet directs Jews to go to great lengths to avoid war, but that if war is unavoidable to take all measures to prevent unnecessary loss of life and destruction of property, and to make peace as soon as possible. Indeed, it animates Israel’s continual quest for peace and security. From accepting the 1947 UN partition plan, rejected by the Arab states, to signing peace treaties with Egypt in 1979 and with Jordan in 1994, and the Abraham Accords with the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco in 2020, Israel has taken every serious opportunity to end conflicts and build prosperity and tranquility in the region.   

The AJC video acknowledges that building a secure, sustainable Israeli-Palestinian peace “has been painfully difficult to achieve,” but still is both possible and necessary. To realize Israeli-Palestinian peace “requires tough concessions on all sides in acceptance of self-determination for both Jews and Palestinians,” states the video narrator. “Those who care about Palestinians cannot encourage the demonization of Israel and those who care about Israel must see the humanity of Palestinians,” the narrator adds.

“Too often the Jews and Israel are slanderously portrayed as stoking the flames of war, ignoring the fact that the value of peace pervades Jewish thought, ritual, and action,” said AJC CEO David Harris. “Deepening understanding of this basic Jewish value as well as Israel’s thirst for regional peace, will advance prospects for expanding peace with other nations in the Arab and Muslim world, and with the Palestinians.”

The video also notes the similarity of the Hebrew word Shalom and Arabic word Salaam for peace, and that they both imply safety from harm, a sense of wholeness. “Without peace, we are not secure, but we are also incomplete.”

The video concludes with the words of King David, who wrote in Psalms, a biblical book holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims, to “Seek Peace and Pursue It,” noting that peace does not happen on its own, but must be pursued with partners.

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 eight videos focused on the origins and beliefs of the Jewish peoplethe history of Muslim-Jewish relationsthe HolocaustJewish ties to Jerusalemthe antisemitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of ZionIsrael’s remarkable diversity;  a profile of American Jews, and what is antisemitism. 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.

The video was released as a large AJC leadership delegation began a weeklong visit to the UAE and Bahrain to mark the second anniversary of the Abraham Accords.

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.

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