ARABIC UNDER FIRE
Memri, the “research institute” which specialises in translating portions of the Arabic media into English, has issued a video clip from a children’s programme on Hamas TV in which it claims that a Palestinian girl talked of becoming a suicide bomber and annihilating the Jews.
Memri – described by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman as “invaluable” – supplies translations free of charge to journalists, politicians and others, particularly in the US.
Though Memri claims to be “independent” and maintains that it does not “advocate causes or take sides”, it is run by Yigal Carmon, a former colonel in Israeli military intelligence. Carmon’s partner in setting up Memri was Meyrav Wurmser who in 1996 was one of the authors of the now-infamous “Clean Break” document which proposed reshaping Israel’s “strategic environment” in the Middle East, starting with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
In the Hamas video clip issued by Memri, a Mickey Mouse lookalike asks a young girl what she will do “for the sake of al-Aqsa”. Apparently trying to prompt an answer, the mouse makes a rifle-firing gesture and says “I’ll shoot”.
The child says: “I’m going to draw a picture.”
Memri’s translation ignores this remark and instead quotes the child (wrongly) as saying: “I’ll shoot.”
Pressed further by the mouse – “What are we going to do?” – the girl replies in Arabic: “Bidna nqawim.” The normal translation of this would be “We’re going to [or want to] resist” but Memri’s translation puts a more aggressive spin on it: “We want to fight.”
The mouse continues: “What then?”
According to Memri, the child replies: “We will annihilate the Jews.”
The sound quality on the clip is not very good, but I have listened to it several times (as have a number of native Arabic speakers) and we can hear no word that might correspond to “annihilate”.
What the girl seems to say is: “Bitokhoona al-yahood” – “The Jews will shoot us” or “The Jews are shooting us.”