Two Years On: The Arab Spring Could Use Some Talmud

The Talmud is a pillar of Jewish law, containing dialectical opinions from thousands of rabbis debating law, philosophy, history, theology, and myriad other topics.  By displaying argumentation by many minds, a page of Talmud enshrines dissent. Unfortunately, the Talmudic spirit is almost entirely absent from the Middle East.  Except for Israel, the region has suffered for decades from autocratic regimes that rule by force -- repressing freedom of the press, political rights, and dissent.  The marketplace of ideas is desolate: the 2002 Arab Human Development Report claimed that only about 330 books are annually translated into Arabic.  Estimates for 2010 improved but are still under 3,000 books annually for about 400 million people.  The figures for books written in Arabic were not much better.  According to Kitab -- a joint venture between the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage and the Frankfurt Book Fair -- an estimated 5,910 books were...(Read Full Article)