Ali Gharib reports:
On Thursday, the U.S. State Department announced a $200,000 grant to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), a Middle East media watchdog closely aligned with U.S. neoconservatives and Israel’s hawkish security establishment and rightist Likud Party. The grant was awarded “to conduct a project that documents anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and Holocaust glorification in the Middle East.” The announcement continues:
This grant will enable MEMRI to expand its efforts to monitor the media, translate materials into ten languages, analyze trends in anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial and glorification, and increase distribution of materials through its website and other outlets.
Finding examples of anti-Semitism is already a robust MEMRI project and one wonders why exactly they needed the cash: According to publicly available tax filings, MEMRI had nearly $5 million in revenue in 2007 and more than $4.5 million in revenue in 2008.
What’s more troubling, MEMRI has faced accusations of mistranslating items and cherry-picking incendiary sources to portray regional media and attitudes in an overly-negative fashion. One of the most common issues has been with MEMRI’s mistranslations which appear to show anti-Semitism on thin evidence. In 2007, CNN correspondent Atika Shubert checked MEMRI’s translations of a Palestinian children’s program against those provided by the cable news channel’s own interpreters:
Media watchdog MEMRI translates one caller as saying – quote – ‘We will annihilate the Jews.’ But, according to several Arabic speakers used by CNN, the caller actually says ‘The Jews are killing us.’ MEMRI told us it stood by its translation.
In other instances, MEMRI has been accused of twisting translations to portray criticisms of Israel and its driving ideology, Zionism, as anti-Semitic..