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Lost in translation? Haaretz in Hebrew, and in English


A guest post by AKUS

Ha’aretz seems to have learned a lesson in misrepresenting matters from the anti-Israeli foreign press. This is how it announced the appointment of a new foreign minister for Egypt on its English-language website:

He seems like just the sort of nice chap Israel should be happy to see rise to the top in the “new Egypt”.

Unfortunately, in the Hebrew version of the same announcement, it seems that Israel will be stuck with the “old Egypt”:

For those who do not read Hebrew, what this says is:

“Nabil el-Araby, who served as Egypt’s ambassador to the UN, replaced Achmed abu El Rit. In the past, he led initiatives against Israel”.

Quite a different story. Moreover, the Hebrew article includes the following, noticeably absent from the English version:

The dismissal of Achmed abu El-Rit, who served under Mubarak, comes despite the fact that he  spoke in praise of the revolutionary forces in his country. At the meeting of the Arab League last week, Abu El-Rit said the demonstrations in his country were “the most wonderful in history”

Ha’aretz’s English version does not even provide readers with this example of El-Rit’s abject support for his new masters.

It is fascinating to see this anti-Israeli newspaper using tactics similar to those employed by Arab despots – in this case printing one thing in Hebrew, and another for Western consumption to fuel its attack on the country in which it is based.

71 replies »

  1. Abtalyon I don’t retract since you have published something that very likely came after the article I read. If you show me the original Haaretz article with a date that proves your contention, then I will of course admit to having been mistaken.

  2. Abtalyon:

    Germolene believes in the “Aftonbladet principle” , i.e. she makes an unfounded charge, but it your responsibility to prove it wrong if you dispute it 🙂

  3. MTC you make unfounded assumptions. For instance you call me ‘she’ without grounds.

    I see that you have just called me a liar and one who deals in the blood libel – (Aftonbladet if you ask)

    That’s a very cowardly and unproductive way to conduct a debate. But I suppose you have no other defences at this stage since you refuse to engage with the question I asked you to answer – ie “I’d really like to know what you would consider unsuitable for publication “

  4. Germolene:

    “Unsuitable for publication” ? OK – unfounded rumours based on hearsay and unreliable sources …… oh, that’s exactly what YOU posted ….

    I explained exactly what I meant by the “Aftonbladet Principle”, which obviously you failed to grasp. It’s pathetic that someone who lives outside the country and so easily accuses thousands of Israelis of treason turns out to be so sensitive.

  5. MTC ” It’s pathetic that someone who lives outside the country and so easily accuses thousands of Israelis of treason turns out to be so sensitive.” another group of groundless assumptions. Very disappointing, really. I thought you’d have something to offer.

  6. Germolene;

    Allegations of heavy Palestinian casualties were made virtually from the start of the operation but were formally made in an interview with Saeb Arekat on CNN on April 10, one day before the end of hostilities. Various agencies took up the story thereafter.

    I don’t usually rely on Wikipedia but on this occasion, the report on the battle and its aftermath is in my opinion a good summary of the events. I suggest you read it- then retract what you originally wrote.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Jenin#cite_note-crucible-69

  7. Abtalyon: Thanks for the plastic Wiki ref. When I find the article I referred to earlier I will act appropriately.

  8. Abtalyon – the “Jenin massacre” was a creation of the PA, particularly Saeb Erekat It little matters wh first reported it as there were dozens if not hundreds of reporters from press agencies clustered around Jenin.

    The story was eagerly taken up by the foreign press – and, no doubt, Ha’aretz taking its chance once more to vilify Israel if you want, for some reason, to give them zchut habechora – – but particularly the Guardian, whose team of Suzanne Goldenberg and Brian Whitaker (in Jerusalem at the time) wrote article after article based on the false rumors that circulated and that they eagerly reported, helping to create the enduring myth of the “massacre”. I once did a count of the articles the Guardian published – I think the Guardian published about 50, with everyone on staff they could find apparently commanded to write something condemning Israel. To this day they have never apologized or retracted their lies.

    Stephanie Gutmann investigated the way journalists cover Israel in her book, “The Other War”. Here is a portion of what she wrote about Jenin:

    170 THE OTHER WAR

    As they go about covering the war, the foreign journalists are vying with each other for prestige as well as for scoops. This calculation includes things like: Who is staying in the more elegant hotel, who has the best bulletproof transportation, who brought the biggest stars to Israel, who got into the Jenin refugee camp first, and who is suffering more at the hands of IDF soldiers.

    The perennial subject of “being shot at by Israeli soldiers” fueled many a conversation over a glass of wine at the American Colony, but one of the problems, according to Scott Anderson, who has worked in numerous war zones, is that “80-90 percent [of these reporters] had never been near combat before and could not distinguish between a bullet shot over their heads as a warning shot and one aiming at them.” …. Reporters tend to move “around in a pack,” Anderson said in that lecture, so “the more people” covering a story, “the worse coverage gets.” A vast, interdependent press pack inevitably creates its own informal information network and its own rumor mill. Soon it is hard to know whether something you pick up from another reporter is rumor or fact, and in Jenin, according to Anderson, “rumor was reported as fact.”

    Reporters who didn’t feel like trying to “get in” that day hung around together in a large huddle outside an Israeli blockade, waiting for tips, personal accounts, anything to send to bosses back home. Whenever a Palestinian spokesperson showed up (or merely someone who claimed to be an eyewitness to events inside the camp), Anderson said, “reporters were on them like flies.” And thus as the operation dragged on, claims about what was happening “inside” grew more and more lurid. Palestinian Authority spokesmen like Saeb Erekat, for instance, had a habit during this period of calling CNN headquarters from a town outside of Jenin, such as Jericho, and rambling virtually uninterrupted on his cell phone about a massacre he claimed was under way in Jenin. Reporters for the majors claim they had no choice but to report these allegations. And the colorful allegations were given far more space than the inevitably terse IDF rebuttals. On April 13, four days into the invasion of the Jenin camp, the Washington Post, for instance, reported that “Palestinians have said that Israeli troops killed hundreds [in Jenin]. . . . Palestinians compared the killing in Jenin to the deaths of Palestinian refugees at … Sabra and Shatilla.”

    As Professor Mohammed Dajani of Al-Quds University in Jerusalem pointed out, the Palestinian Authority was eager ”to turn Jenin into an ‘Alamo episode.’ Here the press was a willing partner [as] they aspired to make Jenin a symbol of resistance to Palestinians.” On April 12, for instance, James Bennet of the New York Times reported that “Palestinians here describe bodies cut in pieces, bodies scooped up by bulldozers and buried in mass graves, bodies deliberately concealed under collapsed buildings. They describe people drinking out of sewers and people used by Israeli soldiers as human shields.” Once the bulldozers began their work, stories about people trapped under buildings began to proliferate. “All my nine children are buried under the ruins…. [C]ome back in a week and you will see their corpses,” a man named Abu Ali told reporters. Le Nouye1 Observateur, an influential French weekly magazine, didn’t wait a week to substantiate Ali’s claim. It soon appeared with photos in a two-page spread in the magazine under the title “The Survivors Tell Their Stories.”

    Ordinary, reportorial common sense should have triggered skepticism about the claims that hundreds had been killed as buildings were demolished, but again, Time magazine was one of the few to keep its head, pointing out that:
    Undoubtedly, the D-9s destroyed houses, but they certainly didn’t bury as many people as Palestinian officials have alleged. It takes the D-9 at least half an hour to fully wreck a building. Israeli soldiers say they always called to residents to come out before the bulldozers went in. But even if the innocents were too frightened initially to leave, most would surely have done so as soon as the D-9 started its work. A senior Palestinian military officer tells Time it was probably the gunmen’s own booby traps that buried some civilians and fighters alive. There were bombs that were certainly big enough to wreck a cinder-block refugee house more devastatingly than a D-9 ever could.

    By the end of the operation, most of the fedayeen and their families had left that section of town, but once the massacre rumors got started even the absence of civilians on the streets was used in news reports to imply IDF dark-doings.. etc. etc.

  9. MindtheCrap

    If you want to make any useful critique of the examples of misleading headlines I provided, which is important because it attempts to give English readers the idea that Israel has benefited from the changes in Egypt while telling Israelis exactly the opposite, stick to the article. Don’t try to justify your bizarre attempt to protect the paper’s tattered reputation by delving into the article and criticizing me for things I did not comment on in the article. The headlines and photographs are what they are, and the impressions they give are what they are, no matter what follows.

    I have a feeling your endlessly argumentative nature indicates that you are from Hungary or Australia originally – correct?

  10. “Haaretz has a responsibility to publish the truth for the benefit of the citizens of Israel, not act as a propaganda arm of the government.”

    If truth is your highest concern, then you should be equally vehement about Haaretz’s obligation not to act as a propaganda arm of the Marxist/Islamist alliance.

  11. AKUS

    “If you want to make any useful critique of the examples of misleading headlines I provided,….”

    Then title your article “Misleading headlines” and stick to the headlines. But you cite the rest of the articles when it is convenient for you. And this is all based on your own unproven assumption that only the headlines are important. Furthermore you deliberately ignore the obvious point that if you did the same analysis on your favourite newspapers you would find the same number of misleading headlines; I assume that as long as the “misleading” supports your world view you consider it acceptable. Please don’t bore me with this type of partisan logic.

    In addition you ignore the fact that different honest people simply interpret the same story in different ways and assign different priorities to the various parts of a complicated story. A good example is the speech the head of Israel’s Military Intelligence (Ama”n) gave about 10 years ago . The next day the following headlines were on the front page:
    Yediot (or Maariv): “Ama’n chief: Iran is a threat”
    Maariv (or Yediot): “Ama’n chief: Iran is not a threat”
    If you read the transcript of the speech you will see that both headlines are correct ! One refers to short-term threat and the other to long-term, with each of the two reporters deciding to emphasize a different part of the speech.

    “I have a feeling your endlessly argumentative nature indicates that you are from Hungary or Australia originally – correct?”

    I see that you are now stooping to racial stereotypes in your arguments.

  12. AKUS:

    “The story was eagerly taken up by the foreign press – and, no doubt, Ha’aretz taking its chance once more to vilify Israel if you want, for some reason, to give them zchut habechora ”

    This is the type of writing that we have learned to expect from you – unbased and unverified accusations, a technique straight from the Guardian School of Journalism.

    All you had to do is go into Haaretz web site (the English one, of course, according to your latest conspiracy theory) and [Search] for “Jenin Massacre”. You would have found stories like this one (and many similar):

    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/destruction-everywhere-no-signs-of-a-massacre-1.47737

    In fact, I could not find one article that supports your claim !

    Perhaps you should also start using Guardian standard phrases like “it is generally believed ….”, etc.

  13. Akus:

    Your reluctance to accept that your article was ill-advised and lacking objectivity disappoints me.

    Germolene posted the allegation that Haaretz started the rumour about a “massacre’ in Jenin. He/she has since kept silent in the face of my efforts to show that this was not so. Why you feel the need to defend a poster whose view on this subject is so at odds with the facts surprises me.

    You have made it abundantly clear that you do not approve of Haaretz but aren’t you carrying this dislike to absurd lengths? You ascribe all sorts of ulterior motives to Haaretz “…… no doubt, Ha’aretz taking its chance once more to vilify Israel if you want, for some reason, …….” without producing a shred of evidence to back up your prejudices: so different from your time as a rational poster on CiF.

    By the way, your quote from Stephanie Gutman shows that she, too, lacked a certain degree of accuracy. Jericho is not “outside of Jenin” but perhaps 120 or so kilometers to the south-east and hostilities having ceased on April 11,”…. On April 13, four days into the invasion of the Jenin camp….” is a nonsensical statement.

  14. MTC – hmm .. “I see that you are now stooping to racial stereotypes in your arguments.”

    The Hungarian “race”? The Australian “race”?

    Just some years of experience serving in Zahal with people who could spend a day arguing over exactly what color of blue the sky was for no reason other than they liked to argue interminably. Rather like you.

    I wrote about two headlines that showed one version of events to Israelis and quite another to non-Hebrew readers. This has been a classic tactic of, for example, people like Arafat.

    Try to stick to that issue.

  15. Abtalyon

    You need to reread:

    a) Your own comment –

    I understand that the original rumour concerning casualties in Jenin in 2002 was raised in United Press International, one day after the military action ended, other news media then taking up the “story” without, of course, doing any checking.

    Allegations of heavy Palestinian casualties were made virtually from the start of the operation but were formally made in an interview with Saeb Arekat on CNN on April 10, one day before the end of hostilities. Various agencies took up the story thereafter.

    and

    b) Stephanie Gutmann’s description:

    Reporters who didn’t feel like trying to “get in” that day hung around together in a large huddle outside an Israeli blockade, waiting for tips, personal accounts, anything to send to bosses back home. Whenever a Palestinian spokesperson showed up (or merely someone who claimed to be an eyewitness to events inside the camp), Anderson said, “reporters were on them like flies.” And thus as the operation dragged on, claims about what was happening “inside” grew more and more lurid.

    Palestinian Authority spokesmen like Saeb Erekat, for instance, had a habit during this period of calling CNN headquarters from a town outside of Jenin, such as Jericho, and rambling virtually uninterrupted on his cell phone about a massacre he claimed was under way in Jenin.

    You don’t see any resemblance?

    Erekat’s home is in Jericho which is why he was calling from there, and Gutmann (who knows Israel very well) was making the point that he was not in Jericho and his comments to CNN were based on hearsay. Possibly she wanted to take into account the possibility that he called in from more than one place, in addition – e.g., Ramallah.

    Both you and MTC need to read Gutmann’s book urgently.

  16. AKUS:

    The “issue” you refer to is a non-issue until you do a serious check of all translated articles over a period of at least a year, compile a list of all differences, determine if there is a consistent trend, and use at least one other paper as a control group. Until I can only look at this article as a cherry-picking amateur folly and as Abtalyon correctly says “Your reluctance to accept that your article was ill-advised and lacking objectivity disappoints me.”

    “Just some years of experience serving in Zahal with people who could spend a day arguing over exactly what color of blue the sky was for no reason other than they liked to argue interminably. Rather like you.”

    No – rather like YOU ! You are the one who raised this non-issue, the one who refuses to reply to serious points raised by myself and Abtalyon and continues to insist that your non-point is of major importance to the future of the Middle East – as if anyone really cares if there is a translation error occasionally in Haaretz.

  17. AKUS:

    No it’s YOU who needs to read – specifically my comments at 6:39 and 7:36. Where did I say anything that contradicts Gutmann’s book ???? The only one arguing here is YOU regarding Germolene’s absurd claim about Haaretz and Jenin, which you appear to support Your quote from Gutmann’s book at 6:41PM does not even mention Haaretz !! But in your usual fashion you say “and, no doubt, Ha’aretz taking its chance once more to vilify Israel if you want, for some reason, to give them zchut habechora”

    I am not sure that even you know what you are arguing about !!!

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