As Trump Flies to Saudi Arabia, Jewish Human Rights Group Exposes Antisemitic Judaism Course at Leading Mecca University
As US President Donald Trump departed on Friday for Saudi Arabia — the opening stop on his first foreign tour in office — a prominent Jewish human rights organization called on the desert kingdom to close down a course on Judaism at a leading Saudi university that promotes antisemitic demonization of Jews.
In a letter to Ibrahim Youssef S. Albalawi — the Saudi ambassador to UNESCO, the UN’s cultural organization — Dr. Shimon Samuels of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) noted that Trump was “about to visit your country, undoubtedly, an occasion when you would wish to present an image of supporting dialogue and tolerance between different cultures and civilizations.”
Samuels drew Albalawi’s intention to the course entitled “Judaism 241,” offered by the Islamic Studies Department at Umm al-Qura University. Located in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Umm al-Qura is one of Saudi Arabia’s top universities, with an annual budget of approximately $250 million.
“At a time when Riyadh shares with Jerusalem mutual existential concerns, we urge you to publicly condemn this outrage, and see that measures are taken to close this hate-mongering course,” Samuels declared.
Samuels, who reviewed the course materials, highlighted that the point of departure of the Judaism course is “that the Jews rely on three sources: ‘The Torah, The Talmud, The Protocols of Zion.'”
Samuels added, “The Protocols, often denoted as ‘a warrant for genocide,’ is a forgery by the Russian Tsarist regime to distract public attention from dictatorship and economic woes. It has been used across the Arab world to foment hatred of the State of Israel and Jews worldwide.”
Other antisemitic themes included in the course focus on the Jews’ “age-old hostility” toward Islam, negative statements about Jewish traits and behavior from the Quran and long-standing conspiracy theories about the relationship between Jews and Freemasons.
A 2009 article by Dr. Abdullah H. Al-Shareef in the Umm al-Qura University Journal of Islamic Knowledge (Shari’a) and Arabic Language and Literature gives a clear flavor of how Judaism is depicted by academics at the university. The article argues that Jews in large part overcame their “aggressive attitudes against Islam and Muslims” when they acceded to Islamic conquest in the 7th Century out of “hopes in achieving the Jewish greed in the Islamic sufferance.”