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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Arabs translating the Talmud to understand the evil that is Israel

From JPost:
A think tank on Middle East affairs in Jordan has for the first time published a translation of the Babylonian Talmud in Arabic.

Middle East Studies Center based in Amman produced the 20-volume work, which took six years to complete and is the labor of 95 translators, language experts and editors.

The center’s director Jawad Ahmad refused to speak about the project with The Jerusalem Post and a member of the staff said that Ahmad would not speak with the Israeli press.

Information on the project available on the think tank’s website describes the Babylonian Talmud as “the most important work of historical Judaism and its religious teachings and theories of Jewish groups.” The center took on the Arabic translation of the Babylonian Talmud, it says, to understand the religious and philosophical roots and thought of the Orthodox Jewish mentality and will “open broad horizons for academic researchers to understand Jewish religious thought and to understand its ramifications throughout history.”

According to Dr. Mordechai Kedar, director of a new center for Middle East and Islamic Studies at Bar-Ilan University and an expert in Arabic literature and Middle East affairs, the Talmud is usually portrayed very negatively in the Muslim and Arab world.

“I doubt this new translation was done out of the goodness of their heart,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “The Muslim world generally looks upon the Talmud as a kind of prototype for the Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” Kedar said in reference to the early 20th century fabrication purporting to contain Jewish plans for world domination.

The difference, Kedar explained, is that Jews do not deny the authenticity of the Talmud and therefore those looking for evidence in Jewish culture of hatred of Arabs, Muslims and non-Jews can take selective quotations and passages from the text to show how Jews denigrate and disparage these groups.

Dr. Esther Webman, an expert in Muslim-Jewish Relations and Arab anti-Semitism at Tel Aviv University’s Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, largely concurred with this analysis.

“The Talmud in the Muslim world is considered to be the main source of Jewish iniquity,” she said. “They highlight aspects of it which are not so flattering and put it at the forefront of their presentation of it. Essentially, they use the Talmud as a tool to accuse Jews of certain habits and traits, so it is portrayed as the epitome of the Jewish and the Zionist mentality.

“It is part and parcel of the expansion of anti-Semitism into the Arab world,” Webman said.

According to Kedar, Islamic scholars are generally unfamiliar with Jewish sources, but academics in the Muslim world use the Talmud to “explain” Jewish behavior.

“Israel is a puzzle for the Muslim world,” Kedar said. “It’s a small country made by refugees who built a successful Western-style state, with high GDP per capita, which has won wars and where Arabs enjoy a much better lifestyle than most other places.

“They don’t understand how this can work; it looks like some kind of satanic enterprise to them when most Arab states are more or less failures, so they want to understand the cultural and religious roots of their enemy, to maybe solve this puzzle one day and perhaps in the end defeat Israel.”perhaps in the end defeat Israel.”
A poked around a little and saw some earlier attempts to translate the Talmud into Arabic. One Arabic scholar named Nabil Fayyad translated some of it; here is his translation of the first few Mishnayot of Avodah Zarah along with portions of the Gemara.

In 2010, Al Masry al Youm had an essay about the origins of the Talmud, mentioning the irony that Arabs used to know the Talmud in the era of their prophets. That article only spoke about the Mishnah, though, so a professor of Talmudic studies at Ain Shams University wrote another article to set the record straight. In it she claims that the Gemara was written down only after the rise of Islam and as a reaction to it -and that the rabbis then excised all mentions of Islam! (This is of course false; the Koran has some influence from the Talmud.) She also says that there was an Arabic translation of Mishnah Kedushin in 1982, she translated the Mishnah of Ketubot in 1995, and she was about to introduce a translation of Berachot.

I also found a book called "The Battle of Existence Between the Koran and the Talmud."

(h/t/ Norman)