A Note on MEMRI and Translations

by LEAH HARRIS

I received many responses to my article “It’s the Occupation, Stupid: Why the Pro-Occupation Right is Running Scared” (December 28, 2002), and wish to thank Counterpunch readers for their engagement. It has come to my attention that I unintentionally misrepresented one aspect of MEMRI’s work by asserting that the organization “undertakes the disingenuous practice of mistranslating excerpts of anti-occupation articles published in the Arabic press.” After further investigation of this issue, I have discovered that the technical accuracy of MEMRI’s translations has not been disputed. Thus I specifically retract my allegation that the organization’s translations are questionable, and I apologize for my error.

However, I do stand by my assertion that MEMRI engages in the practice of publishing selective and decontextualized excerpts of the Arabic press in ways that can present opponents of occupation as religious extremists or anti-Semites. I believe that this is a misleading practice and can serve to misrepresent individual journalists and the character of the Arabic press as a whole. For further information, I would refer CounterPunch readers to Brian Whitaker’s article “Selective Memri,” published in the Guardian (Monday, August 12, 2002) in which he elaborates in detail on the distortions in MEMRI’s work; and a debate on “Democracy Now” between MEMRI’s founder Col. Yigal Carmon and Ali Abunimah, Vice-President of the Arab-American Action Network, and founder of electronicintifada.net, which can be found at http://www.webactive.com/pacifica/demnow/dn20020815.html

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