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Israel, Israel Translators Association (ITA), Translation Industry, Translation Industry Associations, Translation Industry Conferences and Events, Travel

The translation industry should see beyond stereotypes

Togetherness -Jewish and Palestinian Children

IMHO it is wrong, plain dumb, and ridiculous for anyone in the language industry to boycott or ‘ban using the services’ of another provider based on gender, ethnicity, race, country of origin, religion, language, sexual orientation, physical capability and any of the other many diversity categories.

What’s brought about this politically motivated statement?

Apparently some linguists are boycotting the services of Israeli translators … huh?

The following is an extract from Leah Aharoni’s, of AQText Translation Services, blog:
The other day, a UK translator responded to my inquiry for cooperation with a flat refusal, motivated by her “moral stance against atrocities committed by Israel against the Palestinian people.”
Leah then goes on the say:
“Forget about the dubious logic of stereotyping all 7 million Israelis as willing collaborators with government policies (reality check: Israel is a democracy with an extremely robust political debate). Apparently, this Brit has greater moral compunctions than the Arabic translators from places as far-flung as Gaza, Bethlehem, Egypt, and Jordan, with whom we cooperate on mutually beneficial projects.”

Oh so a Brit is throwing stones in the ‘infamous’ glass house!

As a Brit, and an English one at that, I am acutely aware of, and embarrassed by, our imperial past, and, IMHO, our somewhat over eagerness even today to ‘solve’ other people’s problems (British Mandate anyone? Partition? How about closer to home, potato famine, subjection of Welsh language, culture and, some might argue, people?).

Back to Israel / Palestine … I only spent one week in Israel but I met and talked with many translators who held a wide range of views – OK I didn’t meet any ‘ultras’ – but then when I visited Saudi Arabia I didn’t meet any Islamic extremists either. I did meet people in both states with deeply held religious beliefs which I respect and, in many cases, admire.

I can tell you from direct personal experience that Israelis have a range of political, social, and religious views (Christian, Jewish and others). Israel is, IMHO, a modern pluralist secular democracy. If you have any doubts I urge you to visit the country (clearly easy for me to say as a white western business man). Attending the excellent ITA annual conference would be a perfect opportunity to understand more about the people (and on a much lighter side try the best vegetarian food I’ve found anywhere in the world).

I am _NOT TAKING SIDES_ here; I’m asking that we in the language industry don’t trade in stereotypes. That we in the language industry unite rather separate.

When going through the superb EL-AL security I was profiled as a ‘potentially risky’ visitor because of the Arabic stamps in my passport and my own admission of having friends in Egypt, Jordan, Yemen and other Arab states. I don’t have a problem with this, and I was subjected to more questions and more exacting searches, but I was treated with respect at all times and I was let into the country (OK as I said above I’m a white western business man).

Oh and another thing about Israel … Whilst in Jerusalem I asked to visit ‘Palestine’, ‘the occupied territories’, “beyond the green line” or whatever other politically sensitive geopolitical name you wish to use (and yes I’m aware some call Israel Palestine). A Palestinian driver was arranged for me, and this was not a ‘specially selected’ guy, he was my guide for a whole day and told me about his life, his family and his plans for the future. Some, perhaps much of it, was uncomfortable listening, but I can tell you that his views are shared by some Israelis I met too.

To repeat: my message is in the language industry we shouldn’t trade in stereotypes, I have Muslim friends and clients, as I have Jewish friends and clients. And I’m guessing anyone who doesn’t share my values wouldn’t want to be a client or a friend of mine – which is completely fine with me.

Shalom, salaam, peace!

About Doug Lawrence

I help businesses to grow internationally


2 thoughts on “The translation industry should see beyond stereotypes

  1. It is very difficult to understand this country, even while living in it. But in any case, do not do about it too categorical judgments. I agree with the author.

    Posted by Olga | July 4, 2012, 3:10 pm
  2. Support as a citizen of a country with a very imperial past and where many are still too quick to “take sides”.

    Posted by Elena Chudnovskaya | July 4, 2012, 4:22 pm

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