Tower of … Babylon?
Posted by adiamondinsunlight on August 18, 2008
Hizbullah is having a busy week in Lebanon, it seems. In between calling for Lebanese prisoners in Syrian jails to be repatriated and signing a MoU with “the Salafists” (which I never realized was a discrete organization. I thought it was a tendency, or an orientation – not a club.), it has been pushing to expand the upcoming national dialogue to include issues beyond national defense.
That’s all fine with me – I mean, I personally don’t support two of those activities, but I’m all in favor of hard work and a busy schedule. What intrigues me is a small aspect of the English-language media coverage of March 14 reactions’ to Hizbullah’s desire to broaden the dialogue.
According to Now Lebanon, Prime Minister Siniora said that he was against broadening the dialogue because it would create a “Tower of Babel”-like situation:
“If the participants would like to expand the dialogue, we could add some terms, but then we would be cancelling the constitutional institutions and the parliament’s role, which would lead to a situation similar to Tower of Babel,” he commented.
Now Lebanon’s command of English is nothing to write home about, at least when it comes to its news updates and “Today in Lebanon” section, but I would agree that “Tower of Babel” is the correct translation for “burj Babil”.
Naharnet, on the other hand, seems to have gone utterly off the linguistic deep end. Here’s the title of its article on the same subject:
Hizbullah Weapons into the Babylon Tower Dialogue
Oh yes – clear as mud, as they say. The article opens with back-to-back present participles and more passion than reportage:
Hizbullah appeared heading to flooding the proposed national dialogue with an expanded agenda and an expanded list of participants as Premier Fouad Saniora warned that such a trend would only end up in a “Babylon tower” disarray.
“Babylon Tower”? Does anyone know anything about this? My memory of the Tower of Babel chapter in Genesis is that both it and the city of Babylon were in the same kingdom, but were not at all the same. But “Babil” in Arabic is translated both as “Babel” and “Babylon”, so maybe the translation was an honest mistake.
Or it may be that Babylon grew over time and absorbed the old Tower site – just like Beirut grew and absorbed the formerly rural areas of Achrafiye, Zarif, and Ras Beirut.
I’m eager to know more, if anyone has information (or an opinion!) to share :).