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Learning in Arabic about Jews and Judaism

Via Daniel Pipes:

When I lived in Cairo in the 1970s, I conducted a little experiment: What, using only Arabic-language sources, could I learn about Jews, Judaism, Jewish history, Jewish culture, and the like? The paucity of resources stunned me; basically, the best way to learn about these subjects was to read between the lines of antisemitic tracts.

It is therefore with delight that I read today that the American Jewish Committee, under the directorship of Yehudit Barsky, has launched a new website, Asl Al-Yahud (“origins of the Jews”), that deals in Arabic with these subjects, with an emphasis on the history of Jews in Arabic-speaking lands. As a press release explains,

The website offers information about Jewish lifecycle events, holidays and religious practice. The website also contains a timeline of Jewish history, audio and graphic components, and a special section for users to submit questions. An Asl Al-Yahud staff member will answer the questions, in Arabic, allowing users to comfortably interact in their native tongue. The content was created originally in Arabic by Ephraim Gabbai, a descendent of the Iraqi Jewish community. The site is visually authentic to Middle Eastern design and highlights cultural practices shared by Muslims and Jews from Arabic-speaking nations around the globe.

Comment: (1) There is much curiosity among Muslims about Jews and I expect this website will have a sizeable readership. (2) The website needs much more content to achieve its potential; the “History” tab, for example, contains a mere three paragraphs.

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