May 14, 2007
How easy was it for MEMRI to fool so many of the US media outlets with its translation of a children program on Hamas TV, where a child was supposedly have said the words " we will annihilate the Jews"
It was very easy!
The controversy was fueled further when CNN decided to yank the video off the air because of major translation errors on part of MEMRI.
First let me just say that I reviewed the Arabic version of the MEMERI clip which looked discontinuous and disjointed because the context of the conversation in the show did not seem to be coherent. However, at the bottom of this page you will find my corrections of MEMERI translation errors.
The inflammatory words MEMRI blasted the US media with were when the young caller "Sanable" was supposed to have said "we will annihilate the Jews" were not even mentioned by the caller or by anyone else in that clip.
"Sanable actually said "The Jews are shooting us" which is entirely different word and different meaning and which makes me wonder as to where in the world the words "we will annihilate the Jews come from"
Was MEMRI actually playing verbal gymnastics? Yes indeed.
The issue here is not simply some error in the translation of this word or that, but actually making new words up and putting them in the mouth of that child to show defamatory evidence against the Palestinians.
MEMERI which stands for Middle East Media Research Institute was established by former Israeli intelligence agents, the Mossad, to police Arabic media for any evidence of anti-Israeli rhetoric.
Yegal… head of MEMRI was interviewed on CNN’S Glen Beck on his radio show and assured Beck that he stands by his translation and blasted CNN’s Arabic desk (which I am a member of) and Octavia Nasr head of the desk for uncovering the forgery by claiming that CNN’s Arabic desk do not know Arabic and they are " hiding" while he is on the other hand out there ready and willing to debate and challenge anyone for his version of the translation.
In my professional opinion, MEMRI’s "translation" is not credible and flat out forgery.
Translation is not simply transferring words from language A to language B, it involves however much more than that. It involves advanced knowledge of the culture, religious references, historical past and political history and knowledge of the subtleties of the language and its usage in different situations by different people.
Here is MEMRI’s transcripts and my corrections are in black letters.
Host Saraa, a young girl: Sanabel, what will you do for the sake of the Al-Aqsa Mosque? How will you sacrifice your soul for the sake of Al-Aqsa? What will you do?
Sanabel, young girl on phone: I will shoot.
( It is rather Mickey’s character speaking the words and hand gestures " I will shoot" Not Sanable the young girl on the phone)
Farfour, a Mickey Mouse character in a tuxedo: Sanabel, what should we do if we want to liberate...
Sanable: We want to fight. (The word used was we want to resist, not to fight the reference here is to resist the Israeli occupation.
Farfour: We got that. What else?
Saraa: We want to...
Sanabel: We will annihilate the Jews. Actually she is saying: (the Jews are shooting us)
Saraa:We are defending Al-Aqsa with our souls and our blood, aren't we, Sanabel?
Sanabel: I will commit martyrdom.
Sanabel actually said " I’ll be a martyr" ( as in to die for my country, and the reason for that because from a cultural and Islamic religious point of view and law, to be a martyr, one has to have died defending his family, property, religion and country,although the child does not all of this, however the usage of the Arabic version of the word Martyr, carries in it those references. and not to " commit" the word used in MEMRI translation to indicate action and/or planning. This point was elaborated further by YegaL head of MEMRI on Beck’s show by saying that the child meant " committing suicide bombing"
Farfour: We've said more than once that becoming masters of the world requires the following: First, to be happy with our Arabic language, which once upon a time ruled this world. (Excellency in the world, not Mastery of the world two totally different meanings)
Saraa: Of course.
Farfour: Second... or maybe that's it?
Adult host: Farfour, I heard you talking in English.
Farfour: Yes. How are you, Saraa? I hope to be good time.
Saraa: What's with you, Farfour? Why are talking this way? Didn't we agree to talk in literary Arabic? (Standard Arabic not literary Arabic)
Farfour: But Saraa, this is the language of the advanced world, the language of the world that understands and invents things, isn't it?
Saraa: No, Farfour, you are wrong, because you don't know that the Muslims are the basis of civilization. If not for the Muslims, the world wouldn't have got to where it is today.
Farfour: My dear youngsters, we're back. We always miss seeing you on your weekly program "The Pioneers of Tomorrow," in which we are placing together the cornerstone for the ruling of the world by an Islamic leadership.
In the distant past the Islamic empire was a world power so the allusion was to a world where Muslims were a powerful and advanced nation, hence the references to Arabic language, the advanced western world,excellency in standard Arabic language, Islamic civilization. So clearly the context here was more educational to the children to instill a sense of pride of one’s culture and glorious history. And despite references for "resisting" the occupation, and " I’ll die for my country, which in my opinion do not find highly unusual for an occupied and traumatized society such as the Palestinian society.Although it sounds here that Farfour is vowing for Islamic leadership of the world, but he actually was referring to a glorious Islamic past when Arabic was a universal language of medicine,philosophy and sciences.
One cannot be objective and say that this show is a representative of the Palestinian society any more than any right wing televangelist American who calls for "dropping a nuclear bomb on the state department or calling for the assassination of a president of another country and say that such outrageous statements are representative of the American people or culture