18 April '12..
As if Robert Mackey hasn't already left a clear record of his anti-Israel bias, the blogger is now misleadingly cherry-picking his own New York Times colleagues — in order to defend Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, no less.
A few days ago, an Israeli minister blundered into the debate about how best to interpret Ahmadinejad's most well-known call to eliminate Israel. The official, Dan Meridor, concurred with an interviewer on Al Jazeera that Iranian leaders "didn’t say, ‘We’ll wipe it out,’ you’re right, but, ‘It will not survive.’"
Predictably, Mackey was quick to pounce, titling a piece on his blog "Israeli Minister Agrees Ahmadinejad Never Said Israel ‘Must Be Wiped Off the Map.’"
According to Mackey,
In a reminder that Persian rhetoric is not always easy for English-speakers to interpret, a senior Israeli official has acknowledged that Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, never actually said that Israel “must be wiped off the map.”
Those words were attributed to Mr. Ahmadinejad in 2005, in English translations of his speech to a “World Without Zionism” conference that October. As my colleague Ethan Bronner reported the next year, one problem was translating a metaphorical turn of phrase in Persian that has no exact English equivalent — there was, for instance, no mention of a map. More important, closer readings of the phrase suggested that the original statement was less of a threat than a prediction.
Bronner may have asserted that Ahmadinejad didn't use the exact word for map. But his bottom line seemed to be the very opposite of what Mackey writes. The Iranian president's statement was more a threat than a prediction. In the piece Mackey links to, but apparently hopes nobody will read, Bronner reports:
Jonathan Steele, a columnist for the left-leaning Guardian newspaper in London, recently laid out the case this way: "The Iranian president was quoting an ancient statement by Iran's first Islamist leader, the late Ayatollah Khomeini, that 'this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time,' just as the Shah's regime in Iran had vanished. He was not making a military threat. He was calling for an end to the occupation of Jerusalem at some point in the future. The 'page of time' phrase suggests he did not expect it to happen soon."
Mr. Steele added that neither Khomeini nor Mr. Ahmadinejad suggested that Israel's "vanishing" was imminent or that Iran would be involved in bringing it about. "But the propaganda damage was done," he wrote, "and Western hawks bracket the Iranian president with Hitler as though he wants to exterminate Jews."
If Mr. Steele and Mr. [Juan] Cole are right, not one word of the quotation — Israel should be wiped off the map — is accurate.
But translators in Tehran who work for the president's office and the foreign ministry disagree with them. All official translations of Mr. Ahmadinejad's statement, including a description of it on his Web site (www.president.ir/eng/), refer to wiping Israel away. Sohrab Mahdavi, one of Iran's most prominent translators, and Siamak Namazi, managing director of a Tehran consulting firm, who is bilingual, both say "wipe off" or "wipe away" is more accurate than "vanish" because the Persian verb is active and transitive.
And so yet again, Mackey misleads his readers.
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