Arabic Translators Remove the Word “Jew” from “Oppenheimer”

The newly released film about the atomic physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer makes several references to its subject’s Jewishness, as to that of many of his Manhattan Project colleagues. But viewers in the Arab world won’t be aware of this fact, writes Jordan Hoffman:

[T]he Lebanon-based company that translated the film for the region has dodged the specific word for Jews and, instead, has opted to use word ghurabaa that translates as “stranger” or “foreigner.”

The Egyptian film director Yousry Nasrallah criticized the decision, saying, “The Arabic translation of the dialogue was strikingly poor. There is nothing to justify or explain the translation of Jew to ghareeb or ghurabaa. It is a shame.”

An unnamed representative for the film told [reporters] that this is not atypical for Middle Eastern censor boards. “There are topics we usually don’t tackle, and that is one of them. We cannot use the word Jew, the direct translation in Arabic, otherwise it may be edited, or they ask us to remove it. . . . This has been an ongoing [situation] for the past fifteen or twenty years.” (In 2013, though a large section of the Brad Pitt action film World War Z was set in Israel, Turkish translations changed all references to simply “the Middle East.”)

Thus, in one scene, the physicist I.I. Rabi refers to himself and Oppenheimer as “a couple of New York Jews”—and the Arabic subtitles read, “inhabitants of New York.”

Read more at Messenger

More about: Arab World, Film, Jewish-Muslim Relations

Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy