Friday, 11 May 2012

MEMRI Critique 1

MEMRI critique
Traduction ou trahison ?
Désinformation à l’israélienne
par Mohammed El-OifiLe Monde diplomatique, septembre 2005,

Igor Slamoff’s reply to Mohammed El-Oifi:

MEMRI has accurately been characterized as an Israeli intelligence operation and politically very close to Likud. Accordingly MEMRI’s translations should be taken with a grain of salt. But that does not mean that MEMRI gravely distorts the overall picture.
Modern psychological warfare techniques stress the importance of telling the enemy the truth at whatever cost.
Accordingly the fact that MEMRI is merely a myrmidon of the Israeli espionage and propaganda apparat does not necessarily reduce MEMRI’s credibility. Sure they are Israeli spooks. So what? The important thing is how capable Israeli spooks are of diverging from truthfulness without becoming completely discredited.
I have been reading MEMRI for years.
This critique is riddled with inaccuracies. It is very close to a work of fiction. Regarding three specific points:
1. It is true that the selection of texts MEMRI offers stresses Mohammedan fanaticism. However there are numerous translations where Moslems are shown as reflective, understanding, nuanced, and reasonable. And not just one or two, but a bunch of them.
2. The translations themselves are almost always quite accurate. A handful of cases of intentional distortion have occurred, but they are not typical. In one case, i.e. a dispute over the correct translation of the Arabic noun wilaya when used by Osama bin Laden in 2004, the ground for the disagreement was that bin Laden often uses modern Arabic terms with archaic meanings, so legitimate differences of opinion can easily arise regarding the meaning of some of his statements.
3. If you are dissatisfied with the selection of material translated by MEMRI, there are by now several competing translation web sites for Near East media. If you don’t like them you can start your own. There are also web sites like Common Ground where you can read news about interfaith tolerance and harmony. It makes very pleasant reading. 

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