[Feb. 29] Reuters news service either deliberately or by accident mistranslated remarks by Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai. Because it involved the omnipotent word "Holocaust," this triggered an international news libel against Israel.
"As the Qassam rocket fire [on Israeli civilians] intensifies and increases its range, the Palestinians are bringing upon themselves a bigger catastrophe because we will use all our might to defend ourselves."
In Hebrew, he had said, "Yamitu al azmam shoah gdolah yoter." That means, "Will bring upon themselves a greater disaster. Reuven Alcalay's English Hebrew dictionary lists catastrophe, ruin or destruction among the most frequent meanings of "shoah." It also means "pit" or "abyss." "Hashoah," with the definite article, means "the Holocaust." That was not what Vilnai said. The phrase is a Hebrew cliche of common officialese. "Holocaust" means the destruction of European Jewry. It literally means a whole animal offered as burnt offering. It cannot be greater or lesser, because in Hebrew at least, Ha Shoah can only refer to that one event. Genocide of other peoples is generally referred to as "Rezach Am" - a literal translation meaning "murder of a people."
World Media were quick to accuse Israel of plotting genocide against the Palestinians, without bothering to check the meaning of the phrase with the source.
British newsmedia and Reuters, were particularly energetic: