It seems that Channel 4 has not been telling the full truth in its recently shown Unreported World documentary Going for Gold in Gaza, about the efforts of the men’s Palestinian Paralympics team to qualify for London 2012, shown on Friday night and which I subsequently blogged about.
Of its 23 minute duration almost half of the documentary was devoted to a totally gratuitous demonisation of Israel. The problem for Aidan Hartley, the presenter, was that none of the Paralympians he was interviewing had been rendered disabled by Israel. Their disabilities stemmed from either accidents or intermarrying or were hereditary.
Instead, Hartley sought out Palestinians, mainly children, who had supposedly been maimed or killed by Israel, which had no connection to the the title of the programme.
He also uncovered the case of a Palestinian boy, Yousef, who had lost an arm to cancer but who’d had a new artificial one, allegedly, blocked by Israel from entering Gaza. Terrible if true, but mean Hartley doesn’t bother trying to locate either the truth about the limb or the limb itself for Yousef.
Tom Meltzer’s review of the programme for The Guardian was equally villainous. For example, he describes the athletes as a “ragtag band of Palestinian Paralympic hopefuls”, eventhough one of them has a huge haul of medals from games from all around the world.
But now it gets worse.
Cifwatch had some subtitles in the programme translated by an Arabic expert and it now transpires that Hartley and his production team may have intentionally mistranslated the subtitles to leave out words that would have shown Israel in a good light, but which would have undermined the programme’s anti-Israel narrative.
Here is the relevant scene from the documentary:
Hartley is interviewing one of the Palestinian Paralympians who describes how he came to be disabled. The subtitles read:
“I was working on a building site and fell from a great height. After my accident, I went to a rehabilitation centre. At the centre I played sport for the first time. I felt it was a good replacement for something I had lost.”
But the subtitles should have read:
“After I was wounded, I went to Israeli hospitals and then to rehabilitation centers. The first time I did sports was at the Abu Raya center. I felt it was a good replacement for something I had lost.”
Hartley left out the fact that the Paralympian had been treated in Israeli hospitals!
And as for the “rehabilitation centers”, as opposed to just “a rehabilitation center” of the subtitles, our translator is almost certain that, from a grammatical point of view, those “rehabilitation centres” were also Israeli ones!
Additionally, the Paralympian actually said he first did sports at the Abu Raya centre, which is in Ramallah.
Mentioning those visits to Israel and Ramallah would not only have made Israel look too kind but would also have undermined Hartley’s later claim that:
“The Gaza strip has the atmosphere of a large prison. People are hemmed in and its claustrophobic and travel outside of Gaza is very restricted for any reason.”
This claim had, in fact, already been undermined when we learnt from the above clip that the Paralympian not only went to Israel and Ramallah to try to mend his broken body, but has since been everywhere to compete including to Birmingham, in 1998, to Guangzhou, in 2010, and to many Arab Games.
The programme was introduced by Krishnan Guru-Murthy, one of the main anchors of Channel 4 News, at the end of the news programme, giving it even more credibility.
Heads should roll for this but its Israel so they won’t. However, if anything, Channel 4’s subtitling should no longer be trusted.
(Thanks to Barry Mann who initially spotted the mistranslation)