Thursday, July 13, 2006

Mangled Academia

Professor Raphael Israeli ( should not be permitted to write books in English.

His English sucks. And the editors at Lexington Books who published Poison: Modern Manifestations of a Blood Libel should be placed against a wall and shot for desecrating their job.

A perfectly reasonable book, lots of research, and an almost unreadable mess as a result. The book should have been half the size, all the repetitions made by Prof. Israeli ad nauseum should have been weeded out to make his points original, the grammar and stylistics should have been checked by a NATIVE ENGLISH SPEAKER, to stop offending me with sentences such as this one:

“He nevertheless condemns the Palestinian leader for using anti-Semitic means to attain his goals instead of LEGITIMATELY defending the rights of his people by LEGITIMATE means.”


“As it is becoming evident…” Give me a break, mate – what is this “becoming” thing doing therein?

And did I mention the translators used by Prof. Israeli. No? The gifted linguist who translated French press articles for him used the term “intoxication” to mean poisoning, so that for a few pages one has 500 severely intoxicated Palestinian high-school girls running around Hebron flashing V-signs, instead of 500 severely poisoned ones. Such a number of drunk female students of Muslim background is unprecedented, so of course they made news in Europe.

His Arabic to English translator, although obviously fluent in Arabic is hopeless in English, a mishap that results in sentences 20 words and over with no commas, hyphens, or semicolons. “Under the eyes and ears of the Zionist occupiers” becomes “in the sight and hearing of the Zionist occupiers” giving the impression that they all have one set of ears and eyes to share in.

I’ll spare you more examples. However, I would like to add, that Poison is not the only dud. A newer publication, Islamikaze, (2003, Frank Cass) could have been in my humble opinion a best-seller alongside other books on this subject, especially as Prof. Israeli writes from within the conflict itself and has first-hand knowledge and experience of “suicide bombers”. Unfortunately, the book which runs into 472 pages, is a cut and paste hotchpotch of almost full newspaper articles (which, Prof. Israeli, I can easily find elsewhere), again translated horribly and edited even worse, mixed with Prof. Israeli’s outbursts of despair and anger. Scarcely something one would expect in an academic publication, at least not in the English-speaking world. True, editors should permit the writer’s style to shine through, but it is inadmissible to allow an academic writer to mangle language in his publication or to show emotions in a historical expose.

And which mentally challenged person chose the cover for Islamikaze, to make it look like some cheap Pakistani pamphlet?? If there is something that has always irritated me about Israeli products (forgive me if I vent my frustrations here), it the fact that they feel “cheap” and “kitchy” to me, and do not reflect the finer aspects of Jewish material culture that I grew up with. I hope Prof. Israeli wasn’t the culprit in the “book cover affair”.

Needless to say, neither of the two books is sitting permanently on my shelves. When the edited and abridged version are published, I will reconsider. And all this is so unfortunate, really, because the man has interesting things to say. He just doesn’t know how to do that in proper English.

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