“Racist” Quote Mistranslated by Ha’aretz

The issue of African immigrants in Israel is a sensitive one that hasn’t portrayed Israel in a positive light by any stretch. While some Israeli politicians have disgraced themselves with utterly inappropriate language, others appear to have been deliberately misquoted to exacerbate the overall negative effect.

Take Interior Minister Eli Yishai, the subject of a blog piece in The Independent titled “Note to refugees from South Sudan: Israel is for the white man”. According to the writer Richard Sudan:

These were the astonishing words uttered by Israel’s interior minister Eli Yishai in an interview recently in which he outlined the Israeli government’s view of African migrants.

Cue some research by CIF Watch and The Jewish Press who both traced the source of the quote to a Ha’aretz report which indeed said:

Israeli daily Maariv published an interview with Interior Minister Eli Yishai, in which he stated that most of the “Muslims that arrive here do not even believe that this country belongs to us, to the white man.”

As The Jewish Press notes, that sentence is better translated as:

“Most of the people coming here are Moslems who think the land doesn’t belong to us at all, to the white man.”

With the more accurate translation above, you can see that there is room to wonder who is thinking that about the ‘white man’.

But here is is the excised sentence that comes next and is missing in the Ha’aretz translation:

“A number of them have said that openly on television.”

In short, Eli Yishai is not quoting his own thoughts or beliefs.

Eli Yishai is not saying Israel belongs to the ‘white man’.

Eli Yishai is quoting the infiltrators, and it is the infiltrators who have said that Israel doesn’t belong to the “white man”.

Ha’aretz left out one little sentence. But that sentence determines if Yishai is a racist or not.

The real question is, did Ha’aretz leave it out on purpose or accidentally?

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