CAMERA consistently demonstrates (with their ‘Lost in Translation‘ series) that news reports which include an erroneous translation can completely alter the meaning or political context of the events being described. And, a recent Guardian story, which notes a marginal Israeli Facebook page provides a good example of such misreporting.
The report by Orlando Crowcroft (‘Israeli leader meets families of missing teenagers as search continues, June 17th) notes the social media battles being waged by Israeli and Palestinian activists over the terrorist kidnapping of three Israeli teens last Thursday:
The battle is not only being waged by the IDF inside the West Bank, but on social media, where an outpouring of rival hashtags, comments and campaigns have revealed how strongly the incident has resonated with Israelis and Palestinians.
The hashtag #BringBackOurBoys has featured in thousands of tweets from both Israel and abroad since news of the disappearance of Yifrach, Frankel and Shaar broke on Friday, referencing the global Twitter campaign calling for the release of hundreds of schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria by rebel group Boko Haram earlier this year.
Crowcroft then pivots to the ‘less benign’ social media campaigns:
Not all the online responses to the incident have been benign. A Facebook page calling for Israel to kill one Palestinian an hour until the three teenagers are returned has received more than 18,000 “likes” since it was set up on 13 June.
‘Until the teens are returned, every hour we shoot a terrorist.
Crowcroft omitted the word “terrorist” and added the word “Palestinian”.
Remarkably, even Electronic Intifada got the translation correct in their story on the Facebook page.
To be clear, even the correct name renders the Facebook campaign morally offensive. However, news consumers have the right to expect stories at putatively serious news sites which translate a foreign language into English not be compromised by such highly misleading and completely avoidable errors.
UPDATE: Following our complaint, the Guardian corrected the mistranslation.
- Guardian refers to Israelis kidnapped by terrorists as “teenage settlers” (cifwatch.com)
- Lost in Translation? Ha’aretz in Hebrew and English (cifwatch.com)