With defenses like these…


Electronic Intifada comes to the defense of Linda Sobeh Ali, the Palestinian envoy to Canada effectively booted for retweeting a video of a Palestinian child reciting an offensive poem.

Ali, who apologized, admitted to not even viewing the link. 

EI’s Dana Olwan says the media emphasis of Sobeh Ali’s haplessness somehow plugs into a sexist narrative, but I’m not sure how exactly — retweeting a video without even viewing it seems to me to define haplessness, whatever the gender of the offender.

Her haplessness also begs the question of whether or not the poem was mistranslated — which is what her defenders claim — is even relevant. Had she bothered to view the video, she would have seen the alleged mistranslation, and would have been aware (you’d think) of its offense. Unless she flagged the mistranslation in her tweet, it’s kind of beside the point.

But say these issues are relevant, and this is where it gets weird with Olwan’s defense.

According to our original story, the alleged mistranslation reconfigures "kill[s] the soul of Zionism" as "destroys the Jews."

Now, one could definitely make a case that it is at least a diplomatic faux pas for an envoy to call for the crushing of a national movement that has representation in the country where she is serving. But it is also true that this is not as offensive as endorsing genocide.

But here’s the thing: Olwan’s version of the "correct" translation is "extinguish the soul of a Zionist."

Zionism is a movement, and one can envision "killing" it through non-violent suasion, however delusional that proposition is.

"Zionist" is a person, and there are plenty of them. This "correct" version doesn’t exactly do Ali any favors. How is endorsing a grim and graphic call to murder not a sufficient pretext for booting a diplomat?

This defense is at least as hapless as Ali.

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