Thursday, May 17, 2007

Deciphering MEMRI'S spin

After the story of MEMRI translation unfolded and it was found out that MEMRI’s translation were erroneous, a bigger story in my opinion should have been addressed.

It is a story initself of how the US media jumped on MEMRI's version of “truth” like a predator leaping on its prey without double-checking the facts and verify the translation.
One thing should have raised a red flag was that MEMRI is an Israeli organization headed and founded by former IDF and Mossad officers. That alone should have put question mark in the mind of any objective journalist.
Another sub-story is why no major media outlet is willing to address such outright forgery and blunder on part of MEMRI.

Brian Whitaker columnist for the British newspaper the Guardian wrote a column on the story and how language could easily be twisted or misunderstood and thus changing the whole dynamics of events.

Mr. Whitaker column generated so many responses some of which were very insightful, and in here I will try to address some of the questions raised.

But why, I wonder, the US media rushed to cover a story about clumsy-made children show that supposedly a young girl said on it “we want to annihilate the Jews” but the same media never cover or even mention the avalanche of racism and hatred emitting from the Israeli press and government officials that treat Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians as little better than insects!

And why MEMRI, one ought to ask, don’t translate any of virulent comments made in Hebrew that call to kill and annihilate all the Arabs and were made by some of Israeli’s extremist Rabbis.
You see, the US media covered the story with a sense of shock in essences saying “how dare those savage Palestinians teach their children a thing or two about the occupation and resistance to it, children should live in a happy world of their own”

I agree with the notion that children should be shielded from those things, but that requires for a society to be stable and normal. The Palestinian society is anything but stable and normal. Thanks to Israel’s long and brutal occupation that traumatized the adults and the children alike.

I wonder if the media was actually expecting a Palestinian children show, in a society extensively brutalized by the Israelis to teach the children to throw flowers at the Israelis, or teach them to be submissive and accepting to a country that has taken away their land and homes! This of course, from an occupied Palestinian point of view is unthinkable. That’s why we hear the children on the show say stuff like “resist” I’ll be a martyr” and comments as innocent as “I want to draw a picture” (of course MEMRI never translated that)

Responding to Whitaker’s column, one reader asked if the girl on the phone could possibly have said “ Ihna Bidna xxxxx elyahood” ( We want…………….. the Jews) of course girl never said that at all, her words came out very clearly “ Bitookhoona elyahood” ( The Jews are shooting us)

But looking at this assumption with forensic linguistics in mind, we might uncover MIMRI’S linguistic deception

But even if we suppose the girl said “ Ihna bidna…… Elyahood) which again is only a supposition and for the sake of argument, still, that does not amount to “ we want to annihilate the Jews” But this supposition should offer us a clue as to why MEMRI went as far as falsely claiming that the girl had actually said “ We want to annihilate the Jews”

For MIMIRI, it looks like that they imagined that the girl said “ Ihna Bidna….elyahood” and then on this faulty assumption they built their whole story which is very sneaky to say the least.

Key to this clue is the word “ Bidna” which means, “ We want” But it could also mean a past tense of the word “ Ibada” (annihilation or extermination) which is a stretch and highly unlikely because such word is not in the common usage, and still does not make any sense because according to MEMRI’s translation the girl would have to express those words in the future tense and not in the past tense. Something like: (Ihna bidna Nubid Elyahood) “ Nubid is future tense of the word “ “Ibada” but there is no word NUBID at all anywhere.

The other thing that shows how sneaky MEMRI’s translation is their translation of the word “ Bidna” twice in the same sentence, once as “ we want” and the second as “ annihilate” even though “ Bidna” is past tense, supposing it was used, still MIMIRI made it a future tense.

So not only MEMRI invented those words but also translated one word twice to mean two different things in one sentence. I mean the girl who I think is about 3-4 years old has to have a college degree in classical Arabic literature to be able to utter such words with such organization and sophistication.

The word “Bidna” is originally two parts, the letter B is used to indicate present tense in the popular and slang usage of Arabic such as the words “ B-akul” I eat, B-amshi” I walk.
The letter B came from the word “ Budda” which means “ will” as in the will to do something after dropping the rest of word which is a common practice of slang usage of Arabic.
We thus arrive to the word “B-Tokhona”, they are shooting us, by adding the letter B to indicate present tense to the verb of “Tokh” shoot undermining the entire MIMIRI’S argument and translation.

( Thanks to Abdel Hamid for his advice on this column)


Anonymous said...

thanks for clearing that up, it shows how careful you are with the words, and also it shows how sophisticated you are.


Anonymous said...

i agree with you that it requires for a society to be stable and normal for children to live a happy life and in a very democratic way, how can the palistinian kids live happily if they see every single day people dying infront of them from the israeli soldiers?!
Israel has imposed an illegal Occupation on Palestinian lands since 1967 no less brutal than the Nazi occupation of Western Europe. With the protection of the United States, Israel has violated Palestinians’ human rights extensively and continuously for decades, in violation of many UN resolutions and international treaties.

thanks for your time to clear up what that innocent girl was saying.