Why ‘Jews’ were lost in translation in BBC Children of the Gaza War documentary

By Sandy Rashty, July 8, 2015
Children of the Gaza War will air on BBC Two on Wednesday night

Children of the Gaza War will air on BBC Two on Wednesday night

A BBC documentary has substituted the word “Israelis” for "Jews" in its translation of interviews with Palestinians, its maker has admitted.

Lyse Doucet has stood by the decision to translate “yahud” as “Israeli” in subtitles on her hour-long documentary Children of the Gaza War, which airs on BBC Two tonight.

The correct translation for “yahud” from Arabic to English is “Jew”.

The BBC’s chief international correspondent said that Gazan translators had advised her that Palestinian children interviewed on the programme who refer to “the Jews” actually meant Israelis.

In one instance, a Gazan child says the “yahud” are massacring Palestinians. However the subtitles read: “Israel is massacring us”.

Canada-born Ms Doucet said: “We talked to people in Gaza, we talked to translators. When [the children] say ‘Jews’, they mean ‘Israelis’.

“We felt it was a better translation of it.”

She added: “We checked this again yesterday.

“We are not trying to cover it up – we took advice on it and that was the advice we were given by translators.”

The programme follows the lives of Israelis and Gazan children during and after the 50-day war last summer.

BBC journalist Lyse Doucet looking into Gaza with Eilon, a 12-year-old Israeli child (Photo: BBC)

BBC journalist Lyse Doucet looking into Gaza with Eilon, a 12-year-old Israeli child (Photo: BBC)

Ms Doucet reports on Israelis who fled their homes in the south of the country during rocket attacks from Hamas, and on Palestinians whose homes were demolished during Israeli air strikes.

She said she was determined to tell the story from the perspective of children.

“Some of the most compelling stories and often the acts of courage come from young children.

“If we want to not just try to understand what is happening in these wars, but also get a glimpse into the future, then I think we have to talk to and hear the children. It tells us a lot about the times we live in and it tells us a lot about the times that lie ahead.”

She said the interviewees on both sides had a “real sense of indignation that they have been robbed of a normal childhood”.

Stories of #GazaWarChildren 4/5 "Its scary. I'm scared" Michal's story from southern #Israel https://t.co/Ri0IFD5I8L

— lyse doucet (@bbclysedoucet) July 7, 2015

Children of the Gaza War airs on BBC Two tonight at 9pm

Last updated: 11:35am, March 30 2016