While doing our normal morning rounds on Twitter, we came across this tweet from the Quds News Network:
قوات الاحتلال تفتش إحدى المركبات في بلدة سلوان جنوبي المسجد الأقصى قبل قليل. pic.twitter.com/wgsz3mLxBE
— شبكة قدس الإخبارية (@qudsn) March 4, 2016
It first caught our eye because the idea that IDF soldiers searching a car in Silwan was tweet-worthy, let alone newsworthy, seemed laughable. But then we noticed something a little more subtle.
In Arabic, QNN refers to “Occupation Forces,” (قوات الاحتلال) a phrase that is used to describe IDF soldiers regardless of where they are stationed or operating. However, Twitter’s built in Bing translator says, “Israeli Forces.”
The translation on Bing’s website is even more striking, describing it specifically as “Israeli Occupation Forces.”
Online translators like Bing and Google, rely heavily on user input, so it is very unlikely that this is an intentional slight by Microsoft. However, it does mean that Arabic speakers have corrected translations of “occupation forces” to “Israeli forces” so often, that Bing just assumes that whenever the word occupation is used, it must mean Israel.
This has not yet happened on Google:
This may not seem like such a big deal, but it is a microcosm of the way the world relates to Israel in Judea and Samaria in contrast to the position of the international community on other conflicts over disputed territories. Israel is seen automatically and unquestionably as an occupying power, while occupations by Morocco, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, China, Russia, Armenia and many others, are either not labeled as such at all or great pains are taken to explain the “occupier’s” position.
This has gotten to the point where if someone was researching an article in Arabic about Morocco in Western Sahara and used Bing Translator for help, they might be led to think it is actually Israel occupying that territory. But then again, given the single-minded focus of the world on Jewish actions and only Jewish action, why wouldn’t they think Jews are secretly behind other “occupations” as well?