ADL blasts ‘dangerous and defamatory’ introduction in Arabic translation of Talmud
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ADL blasts ‘dangerous and defamatory’ introduction in Arabic translation of Talmud

Watchdog group also praises Cannes film festival decision to ban film mocking the Holocaust

Anti-Semitic French comic performer Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala (photo credit: CC-BY-SA-3.0 by Jastrow, Wikimedia Commons)
Anti-Semitic French comic performer Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala (photo credit: CC-BY-SA-3.0 by Jastrow, Wikimedia Commons)

The Anti-Defamation League has harshly criticized an editor’s introduction to the first-ever Arabic translation of the Talmud for propagating age-old anti-Semitic concepts about Jews and Judaism, and called on the Jordanian government to step in and take action.

The ADL contends that the introduction to this translation charges the Talmud with promoting trickery, cheating and the murder of non-Jews. The translation in question, published by a Jordanian think tank, the Middle East Studies Center (MESC), includes an introduction which misquotes some Talmudic passages while taking others out of context, all of which leave the reader with the impression that religious Jewish law, teachings and tradition view non-Jews with contempt.

The Talmud is a sacred Jewish text that serves as the basis for all traditional Jewish codes of oral law. It was redacted in approximately the year 500 CE.

In a letter to Alia Hatoug-Bouran, the Jordanian ambassador to the United States, ADL national director Abraham Foxman wrote: “It is alarming that this Middle East Studies Center publication contains overt distortions of Jewish religious law, Judaism and the Jewish people.”

Foxman went on to describe the Christian polemic origins of the skewed interpretations of Talmudic passages that today are found in many anti-Semitic sources, saying that some of them have “blatantly anti-Semitic tones” while others are more subtle, yet “all of them remain as false and pernicious today as they were in the Middle Ages.”

Foxman called on Hatoug-Bouran to “take appropriate steps to assure that these dangerous and defamatory mischaracterizations of Judaism and Jews are corrected.” He said that he believes “a responsible Arabic translation of this sacred collection of Jewish law, ethics, philosophy and history has great value, and could have an enormous positive impact on promoting understanding of Judaism within the Arab world. Unfortunately, we fear that the introduction to the MESC publication will negate that value and serve instead to vilify and defame through its overt distortions of Jews and Judaism.”

In related news, the ADL praised the decision by the Cannes film festival not to show an offensive film by the French anti-Semitic comic performer Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala.

According to an ADL press release, “The Anti-Semite,” or “Yahod Setiz,” was produced by the Iranian Documentary and Experimental Film Center. It reportedly pokes fun at the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz, where an estimated 1.5 million Jews perished during the Holocaust, and features Dieudonne as a violent and alcoholic character dressed as a Nazi officer for a fancy dress party. Robert Faurisson, a convicted serial Holocaust denier, also makes a cameo appearance in the film.

“Anti-Semitism has no place at Cannes, and we welcome the clear statement to that effect from the organizers of the film festival,” said Foxman. “Dieudonne’s grotesque anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial may play well to audiences in Iran, but the French entertainment industry and society has clearly had enough.”

Dieudonne has a history of anti-Semitic performances, including Holocaust denial, praise for Adolf Hitler, Nazi salutes, slurs against the Talmud, and other anti-Semitic rhetoric, according to the ADL press release. Earlier in May he announced his candidacy for the French parliament as a a member of the Anti-Zionist Party (Parti Anti-Sioniste, or PAS).

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