Saturday, April 28, 2007

German newsmedia attack war-mongering Israelis

"Israel threaten[s] Iran" proclaimed the headline to a story on an interview with Israeli PM Olmert under the byline of Amir Taheri in the German magazine Focus published today. However, Mr. Taheri says it isn't so and apologizes to Olmert:
Taheri said that the material published was no what he had passed to the magazine, and that he had asked the editors to remove the story from the site. "I apologize to you," he told the spokeswoman, Miri Eisin.
Ynet reports that the magazine is backtracking, but only a little bit:
Focus officials have also admitted that "the impression that was created as if Olmert said that there was an operative plan to strike was exaggerated, and it is now clear that Olmert's statements were not aimed as a threat on Iran."

However, in a conversation with Ynet the editors stood by their initial reports and insisted that the text of the interview circulated in the media was correct and will be published tomorrow. [emphasis added]

Ynet has looked at the transcript and charitably attributes the problems to translation issues:
An examination of the transcript of Olmert's conversation with the reporter revealed that the PM's perceived aggressiveness in the interview resulted from the fact that fine nuances of his English statements were "lost in translation."

In the original version of the interview in English, Olmert did mention – albeit in passing - the option of striking Iran, claiming that "no one has ever ruled it out." However, he stressed that the international community should focus on sanctions and diplomatic pressure on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The prime minister also referred to the dangers of an attack on Iran, and stated that he would not want to turn the whole Iranian people into Israel's enemy.

"Such an operation would turn other Muslim countries against us and cause even bigger problems," Olmert added and explained that Israel had no plans to attack.

It sounds like Focus got more than just the nuances wrong.

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