Channel 4′s lying subtitles in Guardian-endorsed “Going for Gold in Gaza” documentary.

A guest post by Richard Millett

It seems that Channel 4 has not been telling the full truth in its recently shown Unreported World documentary Going for Gold in Gaza, about the efforts of the men’s Palestinian Paralympics team to qualify for London 2012, shown on Friday night and which I subsequently blogged about.

Of its 23 minute duration almost half of the documentary was devoted to a totally gratuitous demonisation of Israel. The problem for Aidan Hartley, the presenter, was that none of the Paralympians he was interviewing had been rendered disabled by Israel. Their disabilities stemmed from either accidents or intermarrying or were hereditary.

Instead, Hartley sought out Palestinians, mainly children, who had supposedly been maimed or killed by Israel, which had no connection to the the title of the programme.

He also uncovered the case of a Palestinian boy, Yousef, who had lost an arm to cancer but who’d had a new artificial one, allegedly, blocked by Israel from entering Gaza. Terrible if true, but mean Hartley doesn’t bother trying to locate either the truth about the limb or the limb itself for Yousef.

Tom Meltzer’s review of the programme for The Guardian was equally villainous. For example, he describes the athletes as a “ragtag band of Palestinian Paralympic hopefuls”, even though one of them has a huge haul of medals from games from all around the world.

But now it gets worse.

CiF Watch had some subtitles in the programme translated by an Arabic expert and it now transpires that Hartley and his production team may have intentionally mistranslated the subtitles to leave out words that would have shown Israel in a good light, but which would have undermined the programme’s anti-Israel narrative.

Here is the relevant scene from the documentary:

Hartley is interviewing one of the Palestinian Paralympians who describes how he came to be disabled. The subtitles read:

“I was working on a building site and fell from a great height. After my accident, I went to a rehabilitation centre. At the centre I played sport for the first time. I felt it was a good replacement for something I had lost.”

But the subtitles should have read:

“After I was wounded, I went to Israeli hospitals and then to rehabilitation centers. The first time I did sports was at the Abu Raya center. I felt it was a good replacement for something I had lost.”

Hartley left out the fact that the Paralympian had been treated in Israeli hospitals!

And as for the “rehabilitation centers”, as opposed to just “a rehabilitation center” of the subtitles, our translator is almost certain that, from a grammatical point of view, those “rehabilitation centres” were also Israeli ones!

Additionally, the Paralympian actually said he first did sports at the Abu Raya centre, which is in Ramallah.

Mentioning those visits to Israel and Ramallah would not only have made Israel look too kind but would also have undermined Hartley’s later claim that:

“The Gaza strip has the atmosphere of a large prison. People are hemmed in and its claustrophobic and travel outside of Gaza is very restricted for any reason.”

This claim had, in fact, already been undermined when we learnt from the above clip that the Paralympian not only went to Israel and Ramallah to try to mend his broken body, but has since been everywhere to compete including to Birmingham, in 1998, to Guangzhou, in 2010, and to many Arab Games.

The programme was introduced by Krishnan Guru-Murthy, one of the main anchors of Channel 4 News, at the end of the news programme, giving it even more credibility.

Heads should roll for this but its Israel so they won’t. However, if anything, Channel 4′s subtitling should no longer be trusted.

(Thanks to Barry Mann who initially spotted the mistranslation)

21 replies »

  1. And the following week they did an equally gratuitous demonisation of India. It seems that both Guardian and Channel 4 (and liberals in general) have particularly got it in for these two countries, and what, I ask, do these two, otherwise totally different countries have in common that they attract so much liberal ire?

    • Erm…..

      They are hated by Muslims/Islamists who are psychotically jealous of the results of their hard work, and they are alsotrade partners to each other?

  2. I think you’re reading too much into this. Subtitles need to be edited down. If every word is translated, it would not be possible to read them before the next batch is flashed on the screen. The viewer needs to be able to get the main sense within the real-time limits of the speaker’s speech pattern.

  3. Alex. In the context of the programme, omitting the fact that the athlete had been treated in Israel is omitting crucial information. It might have made the difference between propaganda and reporting.

  4. Look at the bright side. They could have subtitled it as “rehabilitated by prison medical services”. As well, why not just believe that they left out the word “Israeli” to help out the slower readers. In fact, Alex is quite correct. Leaving out any mention of Israeli help while saying the man lives in what is effectively a prison does convey the “main sense” of the story. It is the struggle against both physical handicap and Israeli evil that is the story. And nobody should hold it back by giving a mixed message.

  5. “Israeli evil”???

    I’d believe that Channel 4 or the other MSM gave a damn about Palestinian people if they were scrupulously honest about the evil perpetrated against them by their own governments, aided and abetted and egged on by ignorant useful idiots for Islamism around the world.

    But then I doubt that they are capable of being honest at all, let alone scrupulously so, about anything.

  6. Richard, any subtitling should not be trusted regardless of what it pertains to.

    I have collated over the years a whole notepad of subtitle howlers as well as those which miss out whole chunks of what is being said.

    Could this be cost cutting or a deliberate attempt to discriminate against the deaf/hard of hearing by messing with the information they are allowed to hear?

    Some years ago here there was a video run by the Guardian by (I think) Save the Children in which a woman ranted about “Yahud”, which was subtitled “Israeli”

  7. Max. Again. Reading too much into it. We’re talking about 3 or 4 words in a programme. As ‘propaganda’ that’s pretty feeble. You’re focusing on a tiny detali and blowing it out of proportion. I suspect a little of ‘propagandist sees as propagandist does’ here. Make a complaint if you REALLY think you have a case. I suspect it won’t get far, but you can always say to yourself that everyone else is biased and you’re the only soldier marching in step.

    • Alex, you are missing the context of all this – you are focusing, wrongly, on the one tree which interests you, instead of taking a view of the whole forest. It’s a cognitively immature argument too to insist that just because you believe something to be the case then it is the case.

      You are, quite simply, wrong, and Richard Millett is right.

      And as for “ can always say to yourself that everyone else is biased and you’re the only soldier marching in step” look in the mirror, old boy. Isn’t that what you are doing here?

  8. Alex, are you really saying they couldn’t have squeezed the word “israeli” in?
    Are you Aidan Hartley in disguise by any chance?

      • Alex is of course right.. One little word can easily be left out. Saying I was not well treated is more economically rendered as I was well treated.

  9. Alex, I’m addressing the same point that you saw fit to address. If we’re blowing a tiny detail out of proportion, well, we both do it. But you haven’t managed to refute my point. And you don’t have the ability, don’t take it badly – no one can, to refute Richard Millett’s main point about the programme – “Of its 23 minute duration almost half of the documentary was devoted to a totally gratuitous demonisation of Israel.” As propaganda – gratuitous demonisation – there was nothing feeble about the programme. You may be right about the outcome of complaints, though. Channel 4 has recent form, for instance The Promise.

    • I wanted to reply to this but felt it only right to locate and read the article first. It is reminiscent of the lowest antisemitic rhetoric of the inter-war years with the target being Arabs instead of Jews. Can’t you see how racisim of this sort harms your advocacy? Hasbara has pretty much lost its effectiveness because in the information age, it is easy to research both sides of any argument. You are being racist and harming your cause.

      • Alex,

        Does your “research” on both sides include:

        – hijacking passenger planes on 9/11 and flying them into buildings?
        – detonating bomb laden trucks in the basement parking garage of the WTC?
        – placing bombs on Pan Am 103
        – bombing buses and the underground in London
        – bombing two embassies in Africa and killing Africans
        – using poison gas, a WMD, on the Kurds of Halabja
        – hijacking an elementary school in Beslan
        – dynamiting two 1,500 year old Buddahs in Bamiyan Afghanistan (“respect” of non-Muslim relgions)
        – 8 year Iraq/Iran war
        – clearing minefields with Persian children carrying plastic keys to “paradise”
        – public execution hanging of gay teens from construction cranes in the “Islamic Republic of Iran”
        – stoning women to death for “family honor”
        – murdering tourists in Luxor
        – murdering tourists in Bali
        – attempting to detonate a bomb hidden in ones shoes (richard reid)
        – attempting to detonate a bomb hidden in ones underwear
        – driving a bomb laden SUV in NY’s Times Square
        – murdering ethnic Chinese in Indonesia because they were “too successful”
        – brainwashing Arab children to hate Jews, SORRY, the sons of pigs and apes

        And what about the infamous SOCIALIST non-aggression pact between the two Socialist regimes, the national Socialist and Soviet Socialists (aka Shitler Stalin)?

        And why are the OWS drones so tolerant of open anti-Semitism at their occupations?

        Should OWS be held to the same standards of civility and justice as they hold Tea Party rallies?

        There are more examples of RACISM at OWS than there have ever been at a Tea Party.