Lost in anti-Zionist translation? Guardian misquotes Noam Shalit on Palestinian hostage taking

Phoebe Greenwood, writing for the Guardian on March 16, claimed, in a sensational headline and accompanying text in the lead passage, that Noam Shalit, the father of the Israeli soldier (Gilad Shalit) held hostage for five years by Hamas, said (during an interview with Israeli TV) that “he would kidnap Israeli soldiers if he were a Palestinian.”

Well, JTA had a Hebrew-speaking colleague track down the interview with Israel’s Channel 10 and it turns out Shalit didn’t say that at all.

Here’s a transcript (translated from Hebrew) of what Shalit actually said:

Q. So you support talking to Hamas?

Shalit: I support talking to anyone.

Q. Including Hamas?

Shalit: Including Hamas. Everyone who wants to talk with us.

Q. As a Knesset member, would you go out tomorrow to talk with [Hamas Prime Minister Ismail] Haniyeh?

Shalit: Haniyeh’s not yet ready to recognize us. Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened yet.

Q. And if he recognizes us?

Shalit: If and when we get the bridge, we’ll cross it. Of course.

Q. That is, even if the kidnappers of Gilad themselves one day are senior officials in the Palestinian administration and agree to recognize Israel, you would sit with them as an Israeli Knesset member.

Shalit: Presumably — I said that if they change their ways and are prepared to recognize us and recognize that there is a Jewish state, that there’s Israel, there’s the State of Israel, yes, and they stop the war against then yes – absolutely.

Q. Shake his hand?

Shalit: Yes.

Shalit: How did Barak say? If I were Palestinian, it’s possible I too would be a terrorist or a freedom fighter — how they call them — or something else.

Q: If you were a Hamasnik, would you abduct an Israeli soldier?

Shalit: I don’t know but maybe I would fight IDF forces in a different way, I don’t know.

Q: But you don’t rule it out.

Shalit: If I were a Palestinian?

Q: Yes, abducting a soldier to release prisoners.

Shalit: We also kidnapped British officers way back when, when we were fighting for our freedom.

Clearly, Shalit didn’t say that he would kidnap an Israeli soldier if he were a Palestinian, as Greenwood definitively claimed.  He essentially suggested that he didn’t know exactly what he would do if he were a Palestinian, while stating that (if he were Palestinian) he might have tried to fight the Israeli army in a different way.” 

Shalit, during the interview, also evidently said (as reported by The JC) that the Prime Minister should have imposed financial sanctions on Gaza while his son in captivity. He said:

”As soon as they capture an Israeli soldier and are not willing to release him and asking for such a price, you should put the pressure on them, including stopping the transfer of money.”

So, its clear that Shalit gave an equivocal, nuanced and, at times, somewhat contradictory answer to the question of Palestinian hostage taking.

But, the Guardian’s Greenwood, and her editors, either didn’t attempt to get an accurate Hebrew translation, or simply decided to go with the most sensational, pro-Palestinian, narrative possible.

The Guardian headline is egregiously misleading, and yet thoroughly consistent with a media group continually in search of “evidence” to buttress their a priori anti-Israel conclusions – reports which often seem intent on suggesting a moral equivalence between Israel and her terrorist enemies.

Similarly, recall a Guardian report, back when Gilad Shalit was released from Gaza in Oct. 2011, focusing on a gaunt, weary, and beleaguered Shalit who was forced to endure an interview on Egyptian TV shortly before his release to Israel.  

Chris McGreal, whose reports of the Hebrew interview with Shalit seem to have been at least partially based on Tweets in English he read throughout the Q&A, by those watching the Egyptian TV interview, wrote:

[Shalit] was asked whether, now that he was free, he would campaign for the release of remaining Palestinian prisoners. He said it would make him very happy to see all Palestinian prisoners released.

But, as Ynet and other media noted.

Asked whether he will campaign for the release of the other Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, Shalit said “I would be happy if they are released, on condition that they stop fighting against Israel.”

That enormous qualifier was somehow omitted by McGreal – a report never revised despite our complaint to Guardian editors – in a manner not disimilar to Greenwood’s gross mischaracterization of what Noam Shalit said more recently.

As I’ve written before, but what can’t repeated often enough, the Guardian can not reasonably be seen a serious newspaper in any real sense of the word.

Rather, the institution represents far left political activism under the guise of journalism.

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