Amazing, the internet. You can feed a phrase in one of the major world languages into a translation site like Babel Fish (, and out it will come another. Type, for example, "internet translation sites like Babel Fish are more trouble than they're worth", click the "English-to-French" button, and you get "les emplacements de traduction d'internet comme des poissons de Babel sont plus d'ennui que la valeur de they're". Put back into English, that yields "the sites of d'internet translation as of fish of Babel are more d'ennui that the value of they're", which, you will agree, is about as close to the original as to make no meaningful difference.

So when indignant officials at the Dutch foreign ministry received an email from a group of Israeli journalists that began, "Helloh bud, enclosed five of the questions in honor of the foreign minister: The mother your visit in Israel is a sleep to the favor or to the bed your mind on the conflict are Israeli Palestinian," they might perhaps have guessed what had happened.

Sadly, they did not. Nor did the follow-up questions ("Why we did not heard on mutual visits of main the states of Israel and Holland, this is in the country of this" and "What in your opinion needs to do opposite the awful the Iranian of Israel") enlighten them. And now, according to the Jerusalem Post, the aforementioned journalists' planned fact-finding trip to the Netherlands as guests of the Dutch government is in jeopardy. "How could this email possibly have been sent?" an anguished Israeli diplomat asked the paper. "These journalists have sparked a major, major incident."

Blame Babel Fish, bud: it mistakes the Hebrew word for "if" (ha'im) for the Hebrew word for "mother" (ha'ima), and reckons "the Dome of the Rock" can reasonably be rendered in English as "bandages of the knitted domes". So let that be a lesson to you. Or, as Babel Fish would have it in German, "Lassen Sie so einfach, daß eine Lektion zu Ihnen seien Sie." Which apparently means: "Leave so simple that a lesson to you are you." Amazing, the internet.