Lost in anti-Zionist translation? Guardian’s McGreal repeats mistranslated answers of Shalit in Arab interview

A gaunt, weary, and beleaguered Gilad Shalit endured an interview on Egyptian TV, by an evidently unmoved journalist, shortly before his release to Israel.  

While the interview hasn’t yet been translated into English, the Guardian’s Chris McGreal repeated a translation to a couple of questions Shalit answered which represent close to the opposite of what he actually said, according to the Israeli media who understood the original Hebrew.

McGreal’s 10:58 AM update, on the Guardian’s Live Blog on Shalit’s release, included the following:


He [Shalit] said he had been treated well by Hamas and he said he had been told only a week ago that he was going to be released. He thought this was the last chance for a negotiated release.

However, per Ynet:

At the beginning of the interview, Gilad was asked about his medical condition, to which he replied: “I don’t feel so well from the whole affair.” However, he was translated back into Arabic as saying: “I feel good.”


He was asked whether, now that he was free, he would campaign for the release of remaining Palestinian prisoners. He said it would make him very happy to see all Palestinian prisoners released.


Asked whether he will campaign for the release of the other Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, Shalit said “I would be happy if they are released, on condition that they stop fighting against Israel.”

So, no, contrary to the lies McGreal’s parroted, Shalit suffered immeasurably from his five-year ordeal and is clearly not presently feeling good. 

And, contradicting McGreal’s report, even an exhausted Shalit clearly stated that Palestinian prisoners should only be released if they cease engaging in terrorist attacks against Israel. 

A lazy reporter who didn’t check his facts? Possibly.

More likely, Gilad Shalit’s actual words were lost within the Guardian’s rigid ideological filter. 

Categories: Guardian

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31 replies »

  1. “More likely, Gilad Shalit’s actual words were lost within the Guardian’s rigid ideological filter.”

    The more I see of this prejudice, the more I can understand how the grandfathers of these Guardian journalists managed to avert their gaze as millions of Jews were being murdered. In their own way, they are perfect representatives of a quite squalid national culture.

    • Hoi, whatever the legitimate criticisms of the failure of Allies (U.S. and the UK) to save Jews during the Holocaust, you can’t impugn the character of the entire nation – which, whatever their faults, showed real courage in resisting, for two years by itself, the Nazi onslaught before the U.S. entered the war.

      Sorry to burden you with nuance and context, but your criticisms at times are extremely broad and, at times, simply intellectually unserious.

      No, the Democratic West isn’t perfect, and wasn’t perfect during WWII. But, I’m glad as hell that they fought and defeated Hitler.

    • they are perfect representatives of a quite squalid national culture

      Who are the people recommending this trash? Please do step forward and make yourselves known.

  2. I am no longer shocked by the Guardian or by anything McGreal spews. He and those who work his strings are as deluded as what I heard reported about the interview from a Gaza cafe – where Gilad was shown drawn and disorientated and the ignoramuses watching insisted that he looked to have been treated well. Insight and sensitivity is plainly not their strong point, and neither is it for anyone associated with the Guardian.

    Don’t rule out that McGreal is lazy, he does work for the Grauniad after all, but I agree that he censored, (probably without even realising it so embedded is it in his psyche), whatever didn’t conform to the Guardian world view.

    And that is not only sick, it’s positively amoral

  3. While I agree that the attempts by McGreal to put his own interpretation on the interview should be condemned.
    I would also condemn the actions of Egyptian TV and the Interviewer for carrying out this interview. A complete lack of compassion and basic human decency on their part that should strongly be condemned.

    • Lack of sensitivity.
      Give the man who didn’t see sunlight for 5 years a break.
      But will they?
      No, they’re Egyptians and he’s a Jew…

      • The interviewer Shahira Amin who showed no mercy whatever and asked intrusive and insensitive questions over and over is terribly upset that people don’t like her and are criticising her.

  4. If you had turned to the ‘anti-Zionist’ Haaretz report of the interview you would have seen the following:

    “Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit said Tuesday that he had been treated well by his Hamas captors during the five years he was held hostage”, and
    “Shalit said he was in good health and that he hoped his release in exchange for hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons would lead to peace between the two peoples.” and
    “Shalit also said he would be very happy if remaining Palestinians held in Israeli prisons were freed to return to their own families, but that he hoped “they won’t go back to fighting against Israel.””. Note that the two parts of this quote are not linked by ‘on condition that’ in the Haaretz version.

    From which we might conclude:
    1) We don’t know precisely which version of the interview is accurate but it is likely that any errors made by Guardian, Haaretz or Ynet were quite innocent.
    2) Adam Levick’s remarks are paranoid nonsense.

    • Why is it at all “likely”, given the Guardian’s inveterate hatred of Israel, that any of the errors in translation were “innocent” except to a cock-eyed pseudo-thinker such as yourself?

      Gilad Shalit has been shown to be malnourished, compared with the state of the Palestinian prisoners, and his doctors say that he has been deprived of sunlight and fresh air.

      Can you understand Arabic sencar? I thought not.

  5. Hving looked at the link, I have to say that Adam has been rather selective in his reporting on this piece. McGreal did report the extracts from the interview as quoted, but he also commented extensively on Shalit’s mental and physical state. He started his report with this:

    “What was most striking about it wasn’t so much his answers as his condition. He looked exhausted. He looked at times very unfocused. He didn’t answer the questions; quite often he avoided them or stopped mid-sentence. It seems quite clear that the five years in Hamas captivity is has taken quite a physical and mental toll on Shalit.” and ended it (almost) with this:

    “The television interviewer didn’t seem very sympathetic to the difficulties Shalit was having. She was pressing him even though he was clearly having a hard time focusing. The interview did seem to go on much longer than he was comfortable with.

    • Nothing that appears in The Guardian relating to Israel is ‘innocent’. It is all heavily agendized and manipulated to present Israel as ‘bad’ and The Palestinians/Arabs/Muslims as ‘good’.

      The Guardian is less a newspaper and more a propaganda organ for a group of un-apologizing Stalinists who hate everything about the United States of America and, by proxy, Israel. They can never forget that the USA brought about the ‘death’ of the old Soviet Union (from which all goodness used to flow.)

  6. sencar when you write;
    “From which we might conclude:
    1) We don’t know precisely which version of the interview is accurate but it is likely that any errors made by Guardian, Haaretz or Ynet were quite innocent.
    2) Adam Levick’s remarks are paranoid nonsense.”

    ‘We’ might, but not those of us who are rational thinking beings and do not believe that if it’s written in The Guardian it must be true.

  7. 2 points, Gerald:
    1) GoonerEll’s post above shows that McGreal’s piece was much more balanced and sympathetic to Shalit than Adam suggests.
    2) The Haaretz version is much closer to the Guardian’s than it is to Ynet’s. Is Haaretz anti-Zionist? If not are the Guardian ‘errors’ the result of bias whilst those of Haaretz are innocent mistakes?

        • You asked a direct question, I gave a direct answer in response. I do not have to respond your arguments to do so, and I do not think that debate would do any good. Next time, don’t ask a direct question. I do not do rhetorical very well.

      • Both of JerusalemMite’s points are so general as to be meaningless. The Guardian is usually highly critical of what is a very right wing, anti-peace Israeli government. It is not hostile to Israel as a state and from time to time publishes pro-Israeli opinion pieces, including one recently by Shimon Peres.
        To accuse the Guardian of being ‘stalinist’ is farcical; you obviously don’t read the paper, or else you are the sort of right-winger that calls Obama a socialist.

        • ” The Guardian is usually highly critical of what is a very right wing, anti-peace Israeli government”.

          You actually mean a government that won’t oblige and consign the country to the peace of the grave.

          The guardian occasionally publishes pieces to explain the Israeli perspective, a) to give itself a semblance of credibility and b) because it allows the opportunity for vilest comments below the line, worthy of Der Sturmer, which they do not censor, so either way, their agenda is served.

        • Yes. I do think that Obama is basically a socialist. And being left wing myself, I don’t always see ‘socialist’ as negative.

          The Guardian is obsessed with Israel. It is also obsessed with Jews.

          I sometimes has balanced articles about Israel but they are far outweighed by the sheer volume of articles which are calculated to show Israel in a derogatory way.

          When was the last time you saw a post on CiF telling us about scientific advancements in Israel which have implications for needy populations worldwide. If something had come out of Iran or Turkey that truly befitted humanity, how many posts do you think would be published extolling the virtues of the vehemently anti USA Iranians. Or the ‘hate Israel’ Erdogan.

          The Guardian is no longer a newspaper. It is a propaganda organ of extreme radical lefties who are pulling the wool over the eyes of unsuspecting left leaning readers.

    • i’ve just listened to the interview with McGreal. It confirms his sympathy for Shalit as well as his interpretation of the Egyptian/Shalit interview. I’m not suggesting that Adam’s is an inaccurate version of what McGreal said, simply that we have no reason to believe that what McGreal said is incorrect. One media source supports Adam, two support McGreal. No doubt we’ll soon have a definitive version.

  8. sencar I don’t know whether you’re injecting it, inhaling it, or drinking it but whatever it is, it is mind altering!
    Directly above you write;
    “I’m not suggesting that Adam’s is an inaccurate version”
    But a few posts above;
    “Adam Levick’s remarks are paranoid nonsense.”

    So on the planet inhabited by “Guardian groupies”, like yourself, ‘paranoid nonsense’ is acceptable as long as it is accurate ‘paranoid nonsense’?

    I prefer to stay on planet Earth, and not join you in your own Twilight Zone.

    • You have either misunderstood my posts, Gerald, or deliberately distorted their meaning. Either way I can’t summon the energy to correct you further.

      • No, I have neither misunderstood nor deliberately distorted the meaning of your posts.
        Thats Ok Brian you go and have a rest, it must be very exhausting for you.

  9. McGreal should be sacked. Calling him unprofessional would be an insult to unprofessional observers.

    He even continues: “I’m sure the Israeli authorities will be very upset by this [the interview].”

    Oh dear, Chris. What do you look like?

  10. There was another poor translationb in the live blog of Shalit’s return.

    At the 12:26 update, it reads:

    Netanyahu says he told Shilat’s parents:

    I returned your son for you.

    But he says the price has been very high. And any released prisoner who reverts to terrorism, “his blood is ours”.

    In fact, what Netanyahu said was:

    And any released prisoner who reverts to terrorism, “his blood on his head”.

    This is significantly different, stating that the responsibility for the released prisoner’s life was his own, and he would pay with his life if he reverts to terrorism. The Guardian chose to use an echo of the anti-Semitic blood libel in its translation, with Netanyahu anxious to get blood from the terrorist.

    • AKUS, I heard Netanyahu say those words, “his blood is ours”. I didn’t find that any more sinister than “his blood on his head”. People do say here “I’ll have his blood” if someone annoys them enough.