Accusations of bias
Several commentators, such as CNN's Arabic department, have claimed that the transcript of the April 13 show (2007) provided by MEMRI contains numerous translation errors and undue emphases.
Brian Whitaker, the Middle East editor for the Guardian newspaper wrote in a public email debate with Carmon, "My problem with Memri is that it poses as a research institute when it's basically a propaganda operation." In an earlier column, Whitaker charged that MEMRI's role was to "further the political agenda of Israel." Whitaker complained that MEMRI's website does not mention Carmon's employment for Israeli intelligence, or Meyrav Wurmser's "extreme brand of Zionism." Whitaker believes MEMRI is not a trustworthy vehicle given the founders political background.
Responsing to Whitaker's criticism of Carmon's "political background", Carmon argued:
"You continually refer to my supposed "political background" as if I had something to hide, and I wonder if I am your real target here. As a civil servant and adviser on counter-terrorism to both Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin, prime ministers from opposing camps, my role was not a political appointment. If your complaint is that I am Israeli, then please say so."
Carmon also questioned Whitaker's own biases, stating that:
I note your website is "Al-Bab", ("The Gateway" in Arabic). Would I be justified in concluding that you are not, in fact, completely neutral about the Middle East, even though you are Middle East editor of a national newspaper? I wonder how you would judge an editor whose website was called "Ha-Sha-ar" ("The Gateway" in Hebrew)?.
Several critics have accused MEMRI of selectivity. They state that MEMRI consistently picks for translation and dissemination the most extreme views, which portray the Arab and Muslim world in a negative light, while ignoring moderate views that are often found in the same media outlets. Juan Cole, Professor of Modern Middle East History at the University of Michigan, argues MEMRI has a tendency to "cleverly cherry-pick the vast Arabic press, which serves 300 million people, for the most extreme and objectionable articles and editorials"  Former CIA counterintelligence official Vincent Cannistraro also charged that "MEMRI is selective and acts as propagandists for a political point of view which follows the extreme right of Likud." Laila Lalami, writing in The Nation, states that MEMRI "consistently picks the most violent, hateful rubbish it can find, translates it and distributes it in e-mail newsletters to media and members of Congress in Washington". As a result, critics such as Ken Livingstone state, MEMRI's analyses are "distortion".
See also: Tomorrow's Pioneers#Translation controversy
The accuracy of MEMRI's translations are often disputed, as in the case of MEMRI's translation of a 2004 Osama bin Laden video, which MEMRI defended. Norman Finkelstein, in an interview with the newspaper In Focus compared MEMRI to the "propaganda techniques" of the Nazis.
Following the 7 July 2005 London bombings, Al Jazeera invited Hani al-Sebai, an Islamist living in Britain, to take part in a discussion on the event. For one segment of the discussion in regard to the victims, MEMRI provided the following translation of al-Sebai's words:
the term civilians does not exist in Islamic religious law. Dr Karmi is sitting here, and I am sitting here, and I’m familiar with religious law. There is no such term as civilians in the modern western sense. People are either at war or not.
Al-Sebai subsequently claimed that MEMRI had mistranslated his interview, and that among other errors, he had actually said:
there is no term in Islamic jurisprudence called civilians. Dr Karmi is here sitting with us, and he's very familiar with the jurisprudence. There are fighters and non-fighters. Islam is against the killing of innocents. The innocent man cannot be killed according to Islam.
By leaving out the condemnation of the "killing of innocents" entirely, Mohammed El Oifi writing in Le Monde diplomatique argued that this translation left the implication that civilians (the innocent) are considered a legitimate target.Several British newspapers subsequently used MEMRI's translation to run headlines such as "Islamic radical has praised the suicide bomb attacks on the capital" prompting al-Sebai to demand an apology and take legal action. He also claimed that MEMRI's translation was "an incitement to have me arrested by the British authorities."
Halim Barakat described MEMRI as a "a propaganda organization dedicated to representing Arabs and Muslims as anti-semites." Barakat claims an essay he wrote for the Al-Hayat Daily of London titled The Wild Beast that Zionism Created: Self-Destruction, was mistranslated by MEMRI and retitled as Jews Have Lost Their Humanity. Barakat further stated "Every time I wrote Zionism, MEMRI replaced the word by Jew or Judaism. They want to give the impression that I’m not criticizing Israeli policy, but that what I’m saying is anti-Semitic". According to Barakat, he was subject to widespread condemnation from faculty and his office was "flooded with hatemail." Fellow Georgetown faculty member Aviel Roshwald accused Barakat in an article he published of promoting a "demonization of Israel and of Jews". Supported by Georgetown colleagues, Barakat denied the claim which Roshwald had based on MEMRI's translation of Barakat's essay.
In 2007, CNN correspondent Atika Shubert and Arabic translators accused MEMRI of mistranslating portions of a Palestinian children's television programme.
"Media watchdog MEMRI translates one caller as saying - quote - 'We will annihilate the Jews,"' said Shubert. "But, according to several Arabic speakers used by CNN, the caller actually says 'The Jews are killing us."'
CNN's Glenn Beck later invited Yigal Carmon onto his program to comment on the mistranslation. Carmon criticized CNN's translators understanding of Arabic stating: "Even someone who doesn't know Arabic would listen to the tape and would hear the word 'Jews' is at the end, and also it means it is something to be done to the Jews, not by the Jews. And she (Octavia Nasr) insisted, no the word is in the beginning. I said: 'Octavia, you just don't get it. It is at the end'". Brian Whitaker, the Middle East editor for the Guardian newspaper (UK) later pointed out that the word order in Arabic is not the same as in English: "the verb comes first and so a sentence in Arabic which literally says 'Are shooting at us the Jews' means 'The Jews are shooting at us'".
Brian Whitaker wrote in a blog for the Guardian newspaper that in the translation of the video, showing Farfour eliciting political comments from a young girl named Sanabel, the MEMRI transcript misrepresents the segment. Farfour asks Sanabel what she will do and, after a pause says "I'll shoot", MEMRI attributed the phrase said by Farfour, ("I'll shoot"), as the girl's reply while ignoring her actual reply ("I'm going to draw a picture"). Whitaker and others commented that a statement uttered by the same child, ("We're going to [or want to] resist"), had been given an unduly aggressive interpretation by MEMRI as ("We want to fight"). Also, where MEMRI translated the girl as saying the highly controversial remark ("We will annihilate the Jews"), Whitaker and others, including Arabic speakers used by CNN, insist that based on careful listening to the low quality video clip, the girl is saying "Bitokhoona al-yahood", variously interpreted as, "The Jews [will] shoot us" or "The Jews are killing us."
MEMRI defends their translation of the show, saying: "Yes, we stand by the translation by the very words, by the context, by the syntax, and every measure of the translation."
In response to accusations of inaccuracies and distortion, Yigal Carmon, said:
As an institute of research, we want MEMRI to present translations to people who wish to be informed on the ideas circulating in the Middle East. We aim to reflect reality. If knowledge of this reality should benefit one side or another, then so be it.
In an e-mail debate with Carmon, Whitaker asked about MEMRI's November 2000 translation of an interview given by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem to al-Ahram al-Arabi. One question asked by the interviewer was: "How do you deal with the Jews who are besieging al-Aqsa and are scattered around it?" which was translated as: "How do you feel about the Jews?". MEMRI cut out the first part of the reply and combined it with the answer to the next question which. Carmon admitted this was an error in translation but defended combining the two replies as both questions referred to the same subject. Carmon rejected other claims of distortion by Whitaker, saying: "it is perhaps reassuring that you had to go back so far to find a mistake ... You accused us of distortion by omission but when asked to provide examples of trends and views we have missed, you have failed to answer." Carmon also accused Whitaker of "using insults rather than evidence" in his criticism of MEMRI.
Whitaker claims that although Memri's translations are usually accurate, they are selective and often out of context. He stated: "When errors do occur, it's difficult to attribute them to incompetence or accidental lapses ... there appears to be a political motive."
God damn, who the hell uses this crap as an actual legitimate source, LOOOOOOOOOOL.