04 May 2006

Translation

It is popularly reported that the President of Iran has declared an intent to wipe Israel off the map. Juan Cole argues that this just isn't true.
I object to the characterization of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as having "threatened to wipe Israel off the map." I object to this translation of what he said on two grounds. First, it gives the impression that he wants to play Hitler to Israel's Poland, mobilizing an armored corps to move in and kill people.

But the actual quote, which comes from an old speech of Khomeini, does not imply military action, or killing anyone at all. The second reason is that it is just an inexact translation. The phrase is almost metaphysical. He quoted Khomeini that "the occupation regime over Jerusalem should vanish from the page of time." It is in fact probably a reference to some phrase in a medieval Persian poem. It is not about tanks.

As usual, Cole further explicates at great length. He is meticulous, thoughtful, and very illuminating about how Iran's supposed anti-Israeli and anti-American belligerency is utter nonsense.

Then he goes from there into a series of body blows against Christopher Hitchens and a brilliant rant against a war on Iran. Check it out if you like that sort of thing. (And if you're an addict, then the Hitchens thing is turning into a soap opera.) But the key thing is that the "wipe Israel off the map" quote is BS.

1 comment:

ET said...

JK, Sorry to tell you this, but no matter how Ahmadinejad's comments are toned down and toned up by mistranslations, Iranians understand the meaning in the way it was originally translated: This is true even though it is not exactly accurate>

meaning and ation are different things in Iran< but that does not mean that the world community should ignore what AN says>