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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Lost in Translation? (part 1)

A letter in Monday's Independent:-

What the Iranian President really said

'Sir: Anne Penketh repeats the assertion that Iranian President Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" (5 May). In fact, as there is no such figure of speech in Farsi, he cannot have done so. According to noted Middle East expert Dr Juan Cole, Ahmadinejad was quoting Ayatollah Khomeini, and Cole renders the quotation as "This regime of occupation in Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time".

'While Ahmadinejad is clearly no friend of Israel, or of Jews in general, what he actually said appears to be considerably more ambiguous than what he is reported as having said. Having had one war over the issue of non-existent weapons, it would surely be a mistake to rush into another based on a mistranslation.'

Very much the party line. Ahmadinejad is a reasonable man with whom we can do business. If there's an unhinged warmonger involved in the crisis, he's the one who sits in the Oval Office.

So it would have been a shame to spoil the effect by publishing this:-

Sir: It seems reasonable to assume that President Ahmadinejad employs competent linguists to translate his speeches for his own official website. A little time spent there will disabuse Chris Alleyne (letter, 8 May) of the idea that there is any ambiguity in his attitude towards Jews and Israel. The report of his speech to the 'World without Zionism' conference on 26 October last year quotes him as expressing 'his firm belief that the new wave of confrontations generated in Palestine and the growing turmoil in the Islamic world would in no time wipe Israel away.'

Yours faithfully...

(source of quote here)

It's worth reflecting for a moment on how a 'World without Zionism' (and not merely without the 'Zionist entity') might be brought into being.

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