(JTA) – The BBC defended its decision to translate the words of Gaza children, who said that Jews were responsible for massacres, as speaking about Israel.
The mistranslation appears in subtitles BBC editors prepared for the public broadcaster’s documentary Children of the Gaza War by Lyse Doucet, which was cleared for airing this week.
In one interview, a Gazan child says the “yahud” are massacring Palestinians. However the subtitles read: “Israel is massacring us.” The Arab-language words for Jews and Israelis are pronounced “yahud” and “yisraelina,” respectively. BBC has in the past offered a correct translation of the word “yahud.”
Responding to complaints by viewers, the British Broadcasting Corporations’ complaints department sent one complainant a letter that read: “We took advice from a number of translators in Gaza and London and were advised that the most accurate interpretation of what the contributors were saying in this context was ‘Israeli.’”
The reply letter was posted online Sunday by the website BBCwatch.org, where writers critically examine the state-funded medium’s coverage of Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials have accused Palestinian leaders of inciting against Jews and rejecting the legitimacy of a Jewish national homeland in parts of the Land of Israel. This rejection, Netanyahu said, is the root of the Palestinian-Israel conflict, rather than a dispute over any particular piece of land.
The Jewish Chronicle of London, which last week reported on the mistranslation, quoted Doucet, the documentary’s maker, as saying: “We talked to people in Gaza, we talked to translators. When [the children] say ‘Jews’, they mean ‘Israelis.’ We felt it was a better translation of it.”
She added: “We checked this again yesterday. We are not trying to cover it up.”