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Paris, 7 November 2021

In a letter to Fiona Charrington, Chief Executive of Martin Randall Travel (MRT), Dr. Shimon Samuels, Director for International Relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, expressed concern that, “Among the MRT ‘Tea-Time Talks’, is listed, ‘The Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East - Six Online Talks by Professor Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones’ of Cardiff University in Wales, considered to be an eminent authority on Persia after years of research in Iran.

MRT’s website description of his forthcoming talks state: “In this series of webinars, the Hebrew Bible (‘Old Testament’) is understood against the background of Ancient Near Eastern culture. The lectures compare the religion of the Hebrew Bible with the cultures of the Ancient Near East, especially Egypt and Mesopotamia.” ... Adding: “Two models of development are discussed: an evolutionary model of development in which the Hebrew Bible is continuous with Ancient Near Eastern culture and a revolutionary model of development in which the Israelite religion is radically discontinuous with Ancient Near Eastern culture. At stake in this debate is whether the religion of the Hebrew Bible is really the religion of ancient Israel at all.

Samuels noted that, “this language is reminiscent of the British historian, Arnold Toynbee’s discussion regarding Jewish culture: ‘There remains the case where victims of religious discrimination represent an extinct society which only survives as a fossil. .... by far the most notable is one of the fossil remnants of the Syriac Society, the Jews’.”

By the same token, Arthur Koestler’s book, “The Thirteenth Tribe,” claims that “Jews are not descendants from the historical Israelites of antiquity, but from converted Khazars, a Turkic people.”

“Our Centre is deeply concerned that the MRT presentation of Professor Llewellyn-Jones’ theses may be misconstrued as yet another denial of Jewish Hebraic roots.” ... We watched in fascination his online lecture for the La Megila group on Queen Esther, depicted as a Persian Harem concubine. We look forward to his future chapters on Mordechai and Esther, as saviours of the Jewish people from the Holocaust plan of Persian Minister Haman”. argued Samuels.

He continued, “Madam CEO, We have created an exhibition, entitled ‘People, Book, Land: The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People with the Holy Land’, authored by the late historian Robert Wistrich, co-sponsored with UNESCO. It has been displayed at the United Nations, the Vatican, the British Parliament and the Council of Europe, inter alia...”

“Indeed, we would be delighted to present it at one of your online webinars,” offered the Centre.

“We look forward to hearing Professor Llewellyn-Jones further thoughts in regard to the Hebrew Bible,” concluded Samuels.