BBC Denies Claim It Mistranslated Arabic Word for ‘Jew’ to Cover Up Palestinian Antisemitism
The BBC has claimed it was “accurate and true to the speakers’ intentions” for it to translate a Palestinian interviewee’s use of the word “yahud” to refer to an “Israeli” rather than a “Jew.”
The chilling interview was broadcast as part of the BBC documentary One Day in Gaza, about the ongoing border riots along the Israel-Gaza Strip border.
Bader Saleh, 24, the subject of the interview, said, “I’m not one for fighting or burning tires, but when I went, I was convinced by it. The revolutionary songs, they excite you, they encourage you to rip a Jew’s head off.”
Saleh used the word “yahud,” Arabic for “Jew.” The BBC, however, translated it as “Israeli,” leading to a storm of criticism charging the network with covering up Palestinian antisemitism.
The BBC strenuously denied the charges, with a spokesperson saying, “We sought expert advice on the translation before broadcast and we believe the translation of ‘Yahudi’ as ‘Israeli’ in this documentary is both accurate and true to the speakers’ intentions.”
The network’s Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet, also defended the decision, saying, “We talked to people in Gaza, we talked to translators.” She claimed they were told that when Gaza youths “say ‘Jews,’ they mean ‘Israelis.’”
“We felt it was a better translation of it,” she asserted.
Senior Vice President Sheila Gewolb of the Board of Deputies of British Jews slammed the network’s response, saying, “The anti-Jewish racism in the phrase ‘rip a Jew’s head off’ is there for all to see.”
“The BBC should explain why viewers were given a subtitle in which the word ‘Jew’ was substituted for ‘Israeli,’” she added. “Does the BBC believe that its job is to protect the perpetrators from their own racism?”