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Thread: MEMRI - Pro-Israel translation service

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    Politics.ie Member Dame_Enda's Avatar
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    Default MEMRI - Pro-Israel translation service

    Those familiar with reports of Arab/Iranian leaders inciting hatred against Jews and Christians/Israel may have come across the MEMRI icon on youtube. I was prompted to post this thread when I saw Hitch 22 posting a 'translation' video by MEMRI where Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi supposedly calling the Jews descendents of apes and pigs.

    How can we believe MEMRI's translations, given the President and co-founder of the organisation is former IDF Colonel Yigal Carmon? This is how MEMRI is described on wikipedia:
    The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is a United States not for profit[1] press monitoring organization with headquarters located in Washington, DC. MEMRI was co-founded in 1998 by Yigal Carmon, a former colonel in the Israeli military intelligence and Meyrav Wurmser, an Israeli-born, American political scientist.[1] MEMRI states that its goal is to "bridge the language gap that exists between the Middle East and the West." It publishes and distributes free English language translations of material from Arabic, Persian, Urdu-Pashtu, and Turkish media, and publishes analyses and reports. MEMRI offers specialized content for a fee.[2] Critics charge that it aims to portray the Arab and Muslim world in a negative light, through the production and dissemination of inaccurate translations and through selectivity in choosing extreme views to publicize.
    Examples of controversial translations by MEMRI include:
    Quote Originally Posted by wikipedia
    Norman Finkelstein, in an interview with the newspaper In Focus compared MEMRI to the "propaganda techniques" of the Nazis.[43]
    Following the 7 July 2005 London bombings, Al Jazeera invited Hani al-Sebai, an Islamist living in Britain, to take part in a discussion on the event. For one segment of the discussion in regard to the victims, MEMRI provided the following translation of al-Sebai's words:
    the term civilians does not exist in Islamic religious law. Dr Karmi is sitting here, and I am sitting here, and I’m familiar with religious law. There is no such term as civilians in the modern western sense. People are either at war or not.[44]
    Al-Sebai subsequently claimed that MEMRI had mistranslated his interview, and that among other errors, he had actually said:
    there is no term in Islamic jurisprudence called civilians. Dr Karmi is here sitting with us, and he's very familiar with the jurisprudence. There are fighters and non-fighters. Islam is against the killing of innocents. The innocent man cannot be killed according to Islam.
    By leaving out the condemnation of the "killing of innocents" entirely, Mohammed El Oifi writing in Le Monde diplomatique argued that this translation left the implication that civilians (the innocent) are considered a legitimate target.[36] Several British newspapers subsequently used MEMRI's translation to run headlines such as "Islamic radical has praised the suicide bomb attacks on the capital"[45] prompting al-Sebai to demand an apology and take legal action. In his view, MEMRI's translation was also "an incitement to have me arrested by the British authorities."[46]
    Halim Barakat described MEMRI as a "a propaganda organization dedicated to representing Arabs and Muslims as anti-semites." Barakat claims an essay he wrote for the Al-Hayat Daily of London titled The Wild Beast that Zionism Created: Self-Destruction, was mistranslated by MEMRI and retitled as Jews Have Lost Their Humanity. Barakat further stated "Every time I wrote Zionism, MEMRI replaced the word by Jew or Judaism. They want to give the impression that I’m not criticizing Israeli policy, but that what I’m saying is anti-Semitic".[43][47][48] According to Barakat, he was subject to widespread condemnation from faculty and his office was "flooded with hatemail."[49][50] Fellow Georgetown faculty member Aviel Roshwald accused Barakat in an article he published of promoting a "demonization of Israel and of Jews".[51] Supported by Georgetown colleagues, Barakat denied the claim[52] which Roshwald had based on MEMRI's translation of Barakat's essay.[51]....In 2007, CNN correspondent Atika Shubert and Arabic translators accused MEMRI of mistranslating portions of a Palestinian children's television programme.
    "Media watchdog MEMRI translates one caller as saying - quote - 'We will annihilate the Jews,"' said Shubert. "But, according to several Arabic speakers used by CNN, the caller actually says 'The Jews are killing us."'[53][54]
    In an e-mail debate with Carmon, Whitaker asked about MEMRI's November 2000 translation of an interview given by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem to al-Ahram al-Arabi. One question asked by the interviewer was: "How do you deal with the Jews who are besieging al-Aqsa and are scattered around it?" which was translated as: "How do you feel about the Jews?". MEMRI cut out the first part of the reply and combined it with the answer to the next question which, Whitaker claimed, made "Arabs look more anti-semitic than they are". Carmon admitted this was an error in translation but defended combining the two replies as both questions referred to the same subject. Carmon rejected other claims of distortion by Whitaker, saying: "it is perhaps reassuring that you had to go back so far to find a mistake ... You accused us of distortion by omission but when asked to provide examples of trends and views we have missed, you have failed to answer." Carmon also accused Whitaker of "using insults rather than evidence" in his criticism of MEMRI.[6]
    Whitaker claims that although Memri's translations are usually accurate, they are selective and often out of context. He stated: "When errors do occur, it's difficult to attribute them to incompetence or accidental lapses ... there appears to be a political motive."[39]
    Halim Barakat described MEMRI as a "a propaganda organization dedicated to representing Arabs and Muslims as anti-semites." Barakat claims an essay he wrote for the Al-Hayat Daily of London titled The Wild Beast that Zionism Created: Self-Destruction, was mistranslated by MEMRI and retitled as Jews Have Lost Their Humanity. Barakat further stated "Every time I wrote Zionism, MEMRI replaced the word by Jew or Judaism. They want to give the impression that I’m not criticizing Israeli policy, but that what I’m saying is anti-Semitic".[43][47][48] According to Barakat, he was subject to widespread condemnation from faculty and his office was "flooded with hatemail."[49][50] Fellow Georgetown faculty member Aviel Roshwald accused Barakat in an article he published of promoting a "demonization of Israel and of Jews".[51] Supported by Georgetown colleagues, Barakat denied the claim[52] which Roshwald had based on MEMRI's translation of Barakat's essay.[51]
    So we have already established that MEMRI's translations involved:

    - replacing the word "Zionists" with "Jews".
    - inserting words that aren't there e.g. translating "how do you deal with the Jews who are besieging Al Aqsa" with "How do you feel about the Jews"?
    - replacing "the Jews are killing us" with "We will anhiliate the Jews" i.e. role-reversal.
    - translating "There are fighters and non-fighters. Islam is against the killing of innocents. The innocent man cannot be killed according to Islam." as "There is no such term as civilians in the modern western sense. People are either at war or not.".

    So in that context, given that as wikipedia says:
    The organization's translations are regularly quoted by major international newspapers,
    How can we trust MEMRI or the media that Muslim leaders are actually saying what they say they are saying?

    A glance at the board of directors and advisors of MEMRI is an eye-opener too. Many are neocons from the Bush Administration, members of AIPAC, or former/existing Israeli politicians:
    Quote Originally Posted by wikipedia
    The Board of directors and advisors of MEMRI includes Ehud Barak, Norman Podhoretz, Elie Wiesel, John Bolton, Nathan Sharansky, Elliott Abrams, Paul Bremer, Steve Emerson, Edgar Bronfman, Mort Zuckerman, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, Jeffrey Kaufman, Oliver "Buck" Revell, Robert Reilly.[8][16]
    So the next time you hear of a Muslim leader calling for Israel to be 'wiped off the map' (another MEMRI sourced 'quote' from Ahmadinjad), remember not to necessarily take it at face value.
    Last edited by Dame_Enda; 16th March 2013 at 12:30 AM.
    Fair and Balanced

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    Politics.ie Member Interista's Avatar
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    An oldie but a goodie, back from the distant days when Brian Whitaker did real journalism:

    The reason for Memri's air of secrecy becomes clearer when we look at the people behind it. The co-founder and president of Memri, and the registered owner of its website, is an Israeli called Yigal Carmon.

    Mr - or rather, Colonel - Carmon spent 22 years in Israeli military intelligence and later served as counter-terrorism adviser to two Israeli prime ministers, Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin.

    Retrieving another now-deleted page from the archives of Memri's website also throws up a list of its staff. Of the six people named, three - including Col Carmon - are described as having worked for Israeli intelligence.
    Memri might, of course, argue that it is seeking to encourage moderation by highlighting the blatant examples of intolerance and extremism. But if so, one would expect it - for the sake of non-partisanship - t o publicise extremist articles in the Hebrew media too.

    Although Memri claims that it does provide translations from Hebrew media, I can't recall receiving any.
    Selective Memri | World news | guardian.co.uk

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    Politics.ie Member timhorgan's Avatar
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    MEMRI will not of course be reporting that today (March 16th) is the 10th. anniversary of the murder of Rachel Corrie.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3JI-axaRF4
    From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free!

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    Politics.ie Member Clanrickard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dame_Enda View Post
    How can we believe MEMRI's translations, given the President and co-founder of the organisation is former IDF Colonel Yigal Carmon?
    I have to agree. I would no longer quote MEMRI or use their videos. They are propaganda pure and simple.

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    Politics.ie Member former wesleyan's Avatar
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    Barakat claims an essay he wrote for the Al-Hayat Daily of London titled The Wild Beast that Zionism Created: Self-Destruction, was mistranslated by MEMRI and retitled as Jews Have Lost Their Humanity.
    Whatever else about Arabs and arabic it's obvious they don't do irony.
    "What Michael Collins accepted in '22,De Valera accepted in'27 and Gerry Adams accepted in '98.Sooner or later they all come around to accepting the Treaty"

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    Politics.ie Member timhorgan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by former wesleyan View Post
    Whatever else about Arabs and arabic it's obvious they don't do irony.
    How ironic from someone who is hitting his 500th. post of regurgitated Hasbara this year so far - and it is not even St. Patrick's Day yet.
    From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free!

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    A couple of mistakes in 15 years does not make every translation wrong. Where are all the lawsuits against them if they habitually libel people?

    They were accused of mistranslating Ahmadinejad's "wipe Israel off the map" speech. It turned out they were absolute right.

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    Politics.ie Member former wesleyan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by timhorgan View Post
    How ironic from someone who is hitting his 500th. post of regurgitated Hasbara this year so far - and it is not even St. Patrick's Day yet.
    Wit from the Wild Beast that Rhodesia Created.
    "What Michael Collins accepted in '22,De Valera accepted in'27 and Gerry Adams accepted in '98.Sooner or later they all come around to accepting the Treaty"

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    Politics.ie Member Socratus O' Pericles's Avatar
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    Fu(k me.........another Israel thread -could this stuff have not been included in one of the seemingly millions of others?
    The truth of an idea is not a stagnant property inherent in it. Truth happens to an idea. It becomes true, is made true by events.

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    Ahh yes, MEMRI. I know someone who failed their doctoral viva due to the fact that their thesis relied heavily on MEMRI rather than an objective source.

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