Translating Israel, from English to Arabic

The Times of Israel wants Arabic readers to make up their own minds about Israel and the Jewish world from their own language.

So the Israeli publication, which launched in 2012 and claims a readership of 2 million, on Tuesday started a Times of Israel Arabic site featuring Arabic translations of its English content. Its editors are hoping Arabic readers will contribute blog posts and comments, too.

“I’m not sure there’s an Arabic news site anywhere that offers this kind of open platform,” Times of Israel editor David Horovitz wrote in a post announcing the new site.

The goal of the new site, according to Horovitz, is “to report Israel, the region and the Jewish world accurately and engagingly for Arabic readers wherever they may be …”

The Times of Israel will be among only a handful of general-interest Israeli media outlets with Arabic spinoffs (not including Arabic-only publications produced by and for Arab citizens of Israel). Kol Israel radio has an Arabic version, and a site called Jerusalem Online features Arabic translations. Yediot Acharonot briefly had an Arabic site a few years ago, Horovitz told JTA.

Citing the Times of Israel Arabic’s editor, Suha Halifa, Horovitz noted that the new site gives readers in the Arab world “direct interaction with Israel rather than secondhand news translated by Arabic media,” and “humanizes” Israel.

Could a Hebrew version of Al Jazeera be next?

Julie Wiener Julie Wiener is a features writer for JTA. Previously, she was the associate editor of The New York Jewish Week, where she wrote about education, food and assorted other topics along with intermarriage.