There is only one word to describe Barack Obama’s gift of a package of films on DVDs to Gordon Brown — fadicha. An Arabic word that has made its way into Hebrew, fadicha describes much more than a faux pas. It is a slip-up that verges on the pathetic.
There is no point on dwelling on a fadicha. A typical Israeli will just brush off such an incident by exclaiming “eizeh fadichot” (for some reason, fadicha is often used in the plural). The Israeli attitude is quite refreshing. In its way, fadicha corrects the tendency to scrutinise every action and utterance for deeper motives. A fadicha has no ulterior motives. It just is. People mess up here and there and no note in the suggestion box is going to change that.
Fadicha’s partner word is fashla. Also from Arabic, it means disaster. While fadicha has a humorous connotation, there is usually nothing funny about a fashla. That the UN allowed Ahmadinejad to speak at Durban II was a fashla of the first degree — and not a fadicha. There was no slip-up. He was deliberately invited.
Israelis use fashla for less extreme cases too. If your dentist has accidently double-booked, she might apologise by saying, “I’m sorry, fashla sheli. it’s my fault.” There is even a verb form of fashla, lefashel.