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Washington - Trump’s Hebrew Translator Lets The President’s Words Speak For Themselves

Published on: May 30, 2017 02:00 PM
By: JTA
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Washington - A San Francisco teacher hired to translate into Hebrew President Trump’s “not very eloquent” (as she puts it) speeches last week in Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem said she isn’t proud to be working for this administration and promised “my students get preference, especially over this particular president.”

Merav Rozenblum, a Hebrew teacher at Jewish Community High School of the Bay, is a contract translator for the State Department and has worked with three presidents — including a 2013 trip to Israel with Barack Obama.

Rozenblum, who moved to the United States from Israel in 2001 and has been working at the San Francisco high school for nine years, said her job is to exactly translate the president’s words from English to Hebrew, even if she disagrees with what he’s saying.

“The ethics of my profession require that I repeat whatever was said as precisely as I can without adding anything personal,” she said. “If somebody reads my translation and can read between the lines my criticism, then I have not done my job well.

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“Of course, when it comes to my principles, I would feel better translating for a president that did not offend about half of the American people. But when I work, this should not be reflected in anything that I do.”

Rozenblum and a colleague in Washington, D.C., were hired to translate Trump’s May 21 speech in Saudi Arabia at the Arab Islamic American Summit. They were told to expect a 3,000-word draft of the speech at 6 a.m. California time on May 20, and agreed to divide it in half and then proofread the other’s work.

The draft arrived 12 hours late — at 6 p.m. Saturday — and the two translators were given until 6 a.m. Sunday to turn in their work. After Trump gave the address, the Hebrew version was updated to reflect minor changes he made in the actual speech.

“This president speaks in very short sentences, so it wasn’t a very difficult speech to translate,” Rozenblum said.

In the Jerusalem speech at the Israel Museum on May 23, Trump went off script to add a reference to the Manchester bombing. Rozenblum also changed her colleague’s translation of one of Trump’s comments there.

Talking about the American security partnership with Israel, Trump said, “Under my administration you see the difference — big, big beautiful difference.” Her colleague in Washington “made it sound better” in the Hebrew version, Rozenblum said, but she stuck with his original words because “I wanted it to sound as lame as it was [by using] his usual hollow words.”

Rozenblum, who translated Obama’s 2009 “A New Beginning” speech at Cairo University into Hebrew, said the previous administration was well organized and the speeches were more challenging to translate because they were better written and included quotes from the Talmud and the Quran.

Rozenblum traveled to the Middle East with Obama and his predecessor, George W. Bush, as an interpreter.

“The protocol requires that the president is interpreted by an American. They always travel with an interpreter, they cannot use local interpreters,” she said. “Just like there’s a special unit that brings the president’s water and food, they bring their own interpreters.”

A graduate of Bar-Ilan University’s program for translators and interpreters, Rozenblum also translates Spanish into Hebrew. She said she felt better working for Obama than she does for Trump.

“I am not very proud of translating for this particular president, but I feel that I do my work for my colleagues, for the American people,” she said. “This is what I do, and I do it the best I can.”



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Read Comments (11)  —  Post Yours »

1

 May 30, 2017 at 02:23 PM Liepa Says:

Ah shoitah !!!

2

 May 30, 2017 at 03:12 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Liepa Says:

Ah shoitah !!!

Hmmm. About whom could you possibly be referring? To the academic and educator, skilled sufficiently in at least three languages and trained professionally as a translator / interpreter? To the casino operator who "speaks in very short sentences"?

3

 May 30, 2017 at 03:15 PM Heeb Says:

If she is unhappy working for this president, she is free to quit. last I checked slavery was abolished in America almost two hundred years ago. She can go back to Israel as well, and translate for her Arab friends.

4

 May 30, 2017 at 03:22 PM Anonymous Says:

Plenty of fish in the sea. Fire her and get someone else.

5

 May 30, 2017 at 06:19 PM favish Says:

stupid liberal.

6

 May 30, 2017 at 06:30 PM TrumpISprez4-8 Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

Hmmm. About whom could you possibly be referring? To the academic and educator, skilled sufficiently in at least three languages and trained professionally as a translator / interpreter? To the casino operator who "speaks in very short sentences"?

I see a very common thread among you and many vin commentators. You guys have some notion that intelligence is based on one proper speaking , grammar or spelling. That's so false and fake. I have many very bright asians whom I work with. There are quite intelligent. There are lots of other metrics when it comes to intelligence. Stop thinking so backwards. We are in the new twitter, text era. Proper grammar skills are a thing of the past.

7

 May 30, 2017 at 07:20 PM yamsar Says:

Reply to #3  
Heeb Says:

If she is unhappy working for this president, she is free to quit. last I checked slavery was abolished in America almost two hundred years ago. She can go back to Israel as well, and translate for her Arab friends.

Don't be obnoxious. She is unhappy, but she needs her job. She is expressing her worldview in a very respectful manner.

8

 May 30, 2017 at 09:27 PM PaulinSaudi Says:

Thank you for a very interesting story.

9

 Jun 01, 2017 at 02:39 AM yosher Says:

The Yored, the Israeli that chooses to move to Golus, is typically one of few ideals. This one has ideals, bad ideals, as this is the first President of the US who has shown this much fondness of Israel. Shame on her vile mouth.

10

 Jun 01, 2017 at 10:10 PM Shlomo-1 Says:

Reply to #6  
TrumpISprez4-8 Says:

I see a very common thread among you and many vin commentators. You guys have some notion that intelligence is based on one proper speaking , grammar or spelling. That's so false and fake. I have many very bright asians whom I work with. There are quite intelligent. There are lots of other metrics when it comes to intelligence. Stop thinking so backwards. We are in the new twitter, text era. Proper grammar skills are a thing of the past.

I would assume, though, that the Asians with whom you work are probably able to speak lucidly in their native tongue. It's difficult to make that argument when English is President Trumps language.
While language continues to evolve, we are not yet in a post-grammar era: being able to communicate clearly is still a valuable asset.

11

 Jun 01, 2017 at 10:54 PM TrumpISprez4-8 Says:

Reply to #10  
Shlomo-1 Says:

I would assume, though, that the Asians with whom you work are probably able to speak lucidly in their native tongue. It's difficult to make that argument when English is President Trumps language.
While language continues to evolve, we are not yet in a post-grammar era: being able to communicate clearly is still a valuable asset.

Fair point. However, you do not need strong grammar skills to succeed and add value. Nowdays, its more about bringing in positive results. I think as a president, its definitely a nice virtue but far from a most.

12

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