Oops Report: French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner

October, 06 2008


French FM Bernard Kouchner almost got Israel into some serious trouble yesterday, when he misspoke and said Israel would “eat” Iran. Reuters reports:

“I honestly don’t believe that it will give any immunity to Iran … because you will eat them before,” Kouchner was quoted by Israel’s Haaretz newspaper as saying in an interview about the possibility of Tehran gaining a nuclear weapon.

But the French Foreign Ministry issued a brief statement later saying Koucher had said ‘hit’ — meaning carrying out a surgical pre-emptive strike — rather than ‘eat’.

We all know that native French speakers often drop the H from English words. A little more prudence on the part of Kouchner and Ha’aretz wouldn’t have been so hard, though, right? It seems like a silly mistake to make when tensions between Israel and Iran are so high.

Reuters, at least, had the wit to remind us of “Allo Allo,” a British sitcom whose humor relied almost singularly on French mispronunciation (see video above).

You can find Kouchner’s Ha’aretz interview, corrected, here.

Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

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