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October 20, 2010

Naim Ateek Lets It All Hang Out in ... Norway! (Thank You Google!)

Ateek Alone.jpg
Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek, founder of Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center at Old South Church in Boston, October, 2007 (CAMERA)

Isn't the Internet wonderful?

Your friend and ours, Naim Ateek, speaks in Norway.

A local writer, Tor-Bjorn Nordgaard, interviews him and publishes an article about his conversation in a Norwegian newspaper -- Norway Today. He asks some pretty good questions and Ateek answers them without making any effort to disguise his contempt for Israel.

A few years ago, that would have been it. Ateek's message would languish for lack of translation. Maybe a few weeks, or a few months, or even a few years after the interview, somebody might have gotten around to translating the text into English.

But these days, thanks to Google Translate, readers in the United States can get an albeit imperfect translation of Ateek's message, which includes, interestingly enough, an accusation that Israel has practiced "jihad" against the Palestinians.

Maybe Google Translate got it wrong, but it's well within the realm of observed behavior. Ateek careens from one anti-Israel libel to another with great abandon and yet for some reason, he never lacks for supporters. Ateek has previously accused Israel of perpetrating "a slow and creeping genocide" against the Palestinians in a book that was endorsed by a number of people who should have known better.

Let us examine some of the treasures Google Translate provides to us.

He [Ateek] compares Israel's actions in 1948 with the Holocaust, says it is Israel's responsibility to create peace by entering [leaving?] Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem, calling Israel an apartheid state and calls on the international community to boycott and isolation.

Yes, there is some confusion to the translation, but you get the picture.

According to the translation, Ateek defended the message from the "Durban conference in 2001, which states that Israel is an apartheid state and calls the world's nations to expose Israel for total isolation, in the same way as originally made with the South Africa. "Through its actions, Israel has unfortunately moved to be a racist state, "he says, shows that there are Jews living in Israel who argue this."

Another gem:

"Israel began its existence on Palestinian ash. The world should not have allowed Israel to exist," he said.

And then there's this:

The big problem with the Jews is still not resolved, because most Jews do not want to Israel. There are still far more Jews outside Israel than in Israel. Most people would not be there, but the Zionists forced them there.

With this article, Nordgaard reveals a conundrum that Ateek's handlers must face every time he visits a country. For Ateek on tour, the only thing worse than not getting interviewed by the local press is getting interviewed by the local press. If Ateek gets ignored, that's bad. If people actually pay attention to what he says, that's worse.

This is not the first time Snapshots has made use of Google's translator. As with the previous instance, if there is anyone who is fluent in the original language (Norwegian), please post your translations in the comments section below and we will update our entry as the translations come in.

UPDATE 3:26 pm

One of Snapshots correspondents sends another article – this one describing the response of a Norwegian Bishop to Ateek’s talk.

According to Google’s translation of the article, Bishop Halvor of Bergen agrees with Ateek that God’s promises to the Jewish people regarding the land of Israel are no longer in force in light of the New Testament. This is pretty straightforward supersessionist theology.

As offensive as this is to many readers, the Bishop does not support Ateek’s calls for a boycott of Israel but instead expresses the hope that negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians will continue.

Bishop Halvor also states that “he follows [not] Ateek’s perception that it is only Israel's responsibility to create peace" and that "one can not place the Black Peter in only one of the parties." (Black Peter is a figure in Northern European mythology who accompanies Santa Claus and punishes bad children.)

The Bishop also denies there’s any equivalence between the Holocaust and the suffering endured by the Palestinians. He states “It's totally different stories, and the type of comparison will only make peace work a lot harder.?

Posted by dvz at October 20, 2010 01:17 PM


As an American, I wish Israel had been created in Utah/New Mexico/Nevada or a mixture of parts of these states. America would be far richer as we would have taken advantage of its success and shared in its wealth creating. Unfortunately, Israel was created where it is as a matter of choice based on religion. The other middle eastern nations have refused to take advantage of the Israeli success to make their societies livable, but instead harp on the loss of land, rather than the loss of human rights for all but the rulers.

Posted by: garygromet at October 20, 2010 03:16 PM

Dear Camera

You will find the entire article translated at

Christian Tau

Posted by: Christian at October 22, 2010 02:54 PM

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