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Saturday, March 1, 2008

The mother of all mistranslations

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/03/mother-of-all-mistranslations.html

The mother of all mistranslations

Friday, 29th February 2008

Ye gods. The BBC has put out this story:

Israel warns of Gaza 'holocaust'

Israeli leaders are warning of an imminent conflagration in Gaza after Palestinian militants aimed rockets at the southern city of Ashkelon. The deputy defence minister said the stepped-up rocket fire would trigger what he called a 'bigger holocaust' in the Hamas-controlled coastal strip.

This reported remark by deputy defence minister Matan Vilnai caused widespread shock and absolute horror. For an Israeli minister to use the word 'holocaust' to describe a limited war of Israeli self-defence, when for Jews of all people the 'Holocaust' means one thing: genocide — and this at a time when the calumny of the 'Jews as Nazis' is rampant around the world, putting Israel and the Jewish people at risk — was simply beyond belief.
It was indeed without any credibility — because Vilnai never said it. It was an appalling mistranslation by Reuters, the source of the BBC story. Vilnai said:
'The more Qassam (rocket) fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, they (the Palestinians) will bring upon themselves a bigger "shoah" because we will use all our might to defend ourselves'.
Reuters translated the Hebrew word 'shoah' as 'holocaust'. But 'shoah' merely means disaster. In Hebrew, the word 'shoah' is never used to mean 'holocaust' or 'genocide' because of the acute historical resonance. The word 'Hashoah' alone means 'the Holocaust' and 'retzach am' means 'genocide'. The well-known Hebrew construction used by Vilnai used merely means 'bringing disaster on themselves'.
 
As a subsequent Reuter's story reported,
Vilnai's spokesman said: 'Mr. Vilnai was meaning "disaster". He did not mean to make any allusion to the genocide.' Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Arye Mekel, added: 'Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai used the Hebrew phrase that included the term 'shoah' in Hebrew in the sense of a disaster or a catastrophe, and not in the sense of a holocaust.'
But this grotesque mistranslation has given Hamas a propaganda gift which they lost no time exploiting:
Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said of Vilnai's comments: 'We are facing new Nazis who want to kill and burn the Palestinian people.'
At a time when the rockets continue to rain down on the southern Negev and Israel is being forced to contemplate stepping up its incursions into Gaza because of the truly genocidal assault upon its citizens by Hamas, such a mistranslation is more than an unfortunate slip. In the present explosive atmosphere, it can lead directly to an enormous escalation of violence by the Palestinians.

It is not enough for Reuters to try to cover its backside in subsequent stories. It must issue an explicit retraction, and so must the BBC. Instantly.


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