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Media Analyses





Updated: Weekend Roundup of Ha'aretz, Lost in Translation


Ha'aretz translators simply can't help themselves. On Thursday, the very same day editors were compelled to correct a falsehood that appeared only in the English edition, and again on Friday, translators were up to their old antics. In the latest batch of "Ha'aretz, Lost in Translation," translators engage is gross manipulations concerning the Ethiopian birth control controversy, even truncating a letter by an Israeli health official to falsely suggest that he confirmed that Ethiopian women forcibly received birth control shots, and also whitewash Fatah violence.

Thursday's deceptive coverage of the Ethiopian birth control controversy ("Israeli minister appointing team to prove Ethiopian birth control shot controversy,") repeats a falsehood that first appeared in Ha'aretz's English edition Jan. 28 according to which Health Ministry Director General Prof. Rami Gamzu supposedly confirmed claims of coerced injections of Depo-Provera, long-lasting contraception shots, for Ethiopian women in order to decrease the birth rate of Ethiopian immigrants. The page-one story Thursday (Feb. 28) states:

About a month ago, Health Ministry director-general Prof. Rami Gamzu indicated there may have indeed have been some kind of policy to this effect, when he instructed the fourth health maintenance organizations to stop adminitering Depo-Provera injections as a matter of course. The ministry and other state agencies had previously denied knowledge or responsibility for the practice.

Gamzu's letter instructed all gynecologists in the HMOs "not to renew prescriptions for Depo-Provera for women of Ethiopian origin if for any reason there is concern they might not understand the ramifications of the treatment." (Emphases added.)

The English edition's selective rendition of Gamzu's letter entails two serious omissions. First, contrary to the translator's formulation in which Gamzu's letter "indicated there may have indeed" been a policy to subject Ethiopian women to these shots against their will without being informed of possible side effects, the letter explicitly denied any confirmation of any such claims. Remarkably, the Hebrew version of the same article, but not the English, included this additional key excerpt from Gamzu's letter, appearing in bold below (CAMERA's translation):

About a month ago, Ha'aretz reported that the Health Ministry director-general Prof. Rami Gamzu sent out a directive to the four health funds not to automatically give Ethiopian women the injection. "Without taking a position or establishing facts about the claims regarding this matter," the director-general wrote, "I request that all gynecologists working in or with the HMOs not renew Depo-Provera prescriptions for women of Ethiopian origin or other women if for any reason there is concern they might not undersand the ramifications of the treatment." (Emphases added.)

Thus, while Ha'aretz's English edition would have readers believe the letter confirmed the claims about coerced injections, it does no such thing.
 
In the second omission, the English edition cuts out several critical words from the middle of one of Gamzu's sentence without inserting an ellipsis indicating that his words had been abridged. The Hebrew edition correctly notes that the letter addressed Depo-Provera injections for "women of Ethiopian origin or other women," while the English editions simply vanished the last four words out of existence. Thus, while Gamzu's directive actually applied to all women in general, the English rendition falsely misrepresented it as relating solely to Ethiopians. Deleting words from the middle of a quote without any indication that text was removed is an egregious journalistic violation which requires a correction. The Israel Press Council's Rules of Professional Ethics instructs: "Statements shall not be attributed to a particular person unless they comprise a direct and accurate quotation of his words or of a document in writing" (section 4c). 
 
Whitewashing Fatah Violence
 
On the Palestinian front, too, Ha'aretz translators freely took liberties in recent days, apparently tailoring the message to suit their ideological leanings. Thus, for example, while reporter Chaim Levinson referred March 1 in Hebrew (see screen shot below) to a Jan. 1 "procession marking 48 years since Fatah's first attempted attack on Israel," Ha'aretz editors soften the blow for their foreign readership. The English edition (screen shot below) does not refer to a Fatah attack, but to a procession "marking the Fatah's 48th anniversary."
 
 
 
Indeed, Ha'aretz translators inexplicably insert and delete information for their English readers at will. Consider the following paragraph first in English, and then the Hebrew original, both from the same story cited above about the mood in the Dheisheh refugee camps and other area Palestinian camps:

Teens and children from Aida have been throwing stone, firebombs and grenades towards Rachel's Tomb, located in a Muslim cemetery adjacent to the camp, for the past four months. A few years ago Israel surrounded the site with walls. During Operation Defensive Shiled 75 firebombs were hurled at it within an hour. A catapulted explosive charge passed over the wall and exploded in a soldiers' guard post, which was empty at the time.

And here is a translation of the original Hebrew:

In contrast, the youth of Al-Aida have spent the last four months throwing rocks, firebombs and grenades at Rachel's Tomb, next to the camp. A few years ago Israel surrounded the grave with walls, and throwing stones over the walls became the local sport. During Operation Operation Pillar of Defense, 75 firebombs were hurled at it within an hour. In one incident, a catapulted explosive charge passed over the wall, and exploded in a soldiers' guard post, which was empty at the time and so none were injured. This week one of the IDF's 10-meter-tall pillboxes caught on fire.

By what criteria do translators delete the fact that an IDF post at Rachel's Tomb caught fire this past week, and at the same time insert the claim that Rachel's tomb is "located in a Muslim cemetery" [sic]? (Since 1948, Muslims have established a cemetery next to the ancient Jewish holy site.)
 
For the Hebrew version of this post, please visit Presspectiva.

March 7 Update: CAMERA Prompts Ha'aretz Correction on Ethiopian Birth Control Story


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