Friday, February 29, 2008


At the top of my Google News page a couple of hours ago was a BBC headline according to which the Israeli deputy defence minister, Matan Vilnai, had said that if the Palestianian rockets did not cease to fall, then Israel would bring them a 'holocaust'. You can imagine the reaction, if you haven't already seen it. I thought, how inept can you get?

Trouble is, he didn't say it. Reuters buggered up the translation. As translated, the quote went:

‘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'.
Melanie Phillips explains
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’.
The BBC has now (as of 14.58) changed both the translation and the article.


Riri said...

Aaah! That's alright then. Much better. Political correctness at its most sublime eh.

Might I venture to enquire though; wen does a disaster become a Holocaust then? Or is Jewish Law silent on that one?

Hazar Nesimi said...

Melanie Phillips - explains? These three words don't sit well together.

Riri said...

Now Nazim, that statement coming from your Muslim self can only be called sexist or misogynist.

Melanie's "explanation" on the other hand places her firmly in the Holocaust Deniers' clan.

You see, everyone is antisemitic. Denying so will only complicate matters for you.

NoolaBeulah said...

Excellent example of how difficult it has become to even talk about this issue. A politician uses an expression that is misunderstood, and the pillars of the world shake. Above we have in the space of one comment "sexist, misogynist, Holocaust Denier and antisemitic". We do not discuss what the politician meant, or one journalist's interpretation, but the journalist herself. Should I infer that, because Melanie Phillips said it, it can't be right? Or, even if the politician didn't say it, that's what he really meant?

Is it not even possible to infer that somebody simply made a translation mistake?

Riri said...

But how is saying that even if the politician actually meant Holocaust but couldn't use this actual word becuase he is a politician and also because he is Jewish like Melanie Phillips described, and therefore the word he used couldn't have been translated as Holocaust under any circumstances but a translation mistake whether deliberate or not, how is that not discussing what the politician had meant or how the journalist interpreted it?

Can't get any more relevant discussion of the issue than that me thinks.

NoolaBeulah said...

Er... yes. I mean, no. I mean, huh?

Riri said...

We all know what "the other" means, it's just that we prefer to argue over semantics at the expense of context. It fills more press pages than arguing over the actual issues which we all believe in our heart of hearts have no solution.

For me and for many others, Holocaust and Disaster (inflicted on Palestinian by the Israelis) are perfectly interchangeable words within the Israelo-Palestinian crisis. But for many more others, including the Media, the issue is about the choice of words and whether it was a translation mistake or not. Silly.

Words are worth nothing if their primary function is to conceal and confuse.

Hazar Nesimi said...

Calm down, guys. In several short words i showed my dislike for Melanie Phillips and her column in Spectator, etc. They way she is so agressive in all talk shows i listened to on Radio 4, it just makes me cringe, sorry!

As to the subject:H onestly I try not to read anything related to Palestine or Israel actually, so I glossed over intricacies of the explanations. Two things possible 1) Mistranslation without an and 2) Intent to have a slip of the tongue. Thats it.