Saturday, November 18, 2017

3 x 3 monostich



a     *   west    *   wind

blew  *  fine  *  rain

into   *  their *  faces


-- John le Carré, A Delicate Argument (2013)

(  A monostich      in  matrix  form  )

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Is the President driving us towards nuclear war ? (expanded)


No no, not the present POTUS.   There is commentary by the bushel about that, you don’t need more from me.

Rather, this is simply another noticing of historical precedents and parallels, for the benefit of those who were born yesterday.

~

There is no high-ranking military officer serving the current administration, remotely as scary General Curtis E. LeMay, a proponent of pre-emptive all-out nuclear war, and commander of the SAC (which was in a position to carry out his dream at a nod from their commander).  JFK didn’t like him, but didn’t fire him;  rather, he promoted him to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.   (Partly along the lines of the old maxim, “Better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.”  But that's a risky strategy. )   It would be anachronistic to call LeMay “a character out of Dr Strangelove”;  rather, that movie classic partly based its characters on him.

As McGeorge Bundy phrased it in July of 1961:

The only plan the United States had for the use of strategic weapons  was a massive, total, comprehensive  obliterating attack upon the Soviet Union -- an attack on the Warsaw Pact countries and Red China, [with] no provision for separating them out. … An attack on everything Red.”

Quite different from using a bunker buster on Pyongyang’s missile sites.

As indicated, JFK was not as hawkish as LeMay, nor even as his hot-headed brother RFK.   But he too could be provocative.  Re a June 3, 1961 head-to-head meeting with Khrushchev, which Kennedy prefaced by saying “This is the nut-cutter”:

“Force would be met by force,” Khrushchev warned Kennedy …
“The President concluded the conversation,” noted the transcript, “by observing that it would be a cold winter.”
-- Richard Reeves, President Kennedy:  Profile of Power (1993), p.  171

What -- switching the subject to something less controversial, like the weather, to avoid confrontation?  No;  then as now, there was a problem with self-censured news.

What Kennedy actually said was stronger:  “Then, Mr. Chairman, there will be war.  It will be a cold winter.”
-- id.

And, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, 18 Oct 1962:

Acheson was appalled when he met alone with the President, and heard him use the same phrase, “Pearl Harbor in reverse” -- as if the United States were planning a sneak attack without provocation.
“I don’t know where you got that,” Acheson said to John Kennedy. “It is unworthy of you to talk that way.”
-- id, p. 378

Similarly,

Stevenson was shaken by the President’s casual manner, as two years before  Kennedy had been shocked by Eisenhower’s casual talk of nuclear weapons.
-- id, p. 275



For an even more hair-raising example of Presidential brinksmanship, read about Reagan’s 1983 escapade, that really might have got us all killed:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Able_Archer_83

~

As always, our purpose is neither to trash JFK, nor to excuse the present fellow, but simply to provide a spot of perspective.

For the full roster of posts on this theme, click here.
For the post that launched the series:


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Hammett


 Four old stand-bys, which I read decades ago;  and now at last re-experience as audiobooks.  We won’t summarize the plots (which you can read in Wikipedia), but broadly characterize the work.
 



Red Harvest (1929)


Dashiell Hammett was long associated with Communist causes.  I first read his first novel, Red Harvest, while in Berkeley, surrounded by leftist radicals of every stripe and shade;  and rather looked forward  to a political roman à clef.  But there is no serious politics in the thing, not even a nod to it.  There’s a Wobbly guy, whom we meet briefly before he disappears without a trace;  but that is merely by way of local color, just like there’s a prize-fighter, a gambler, and a bootlegger.   The “Red” refers to blood, maybe;  nothing to do with Marxism
Indeed, it’s amazing that some critics saw this as a communist yarn, even after reading the book. Personville is ostensibly a mining town (Anaconda), but we never meet an actual miner.  There is no mass-action -- indeed, no actual masses, nor even so much as a single active workingman.    They’re all just lumpen.   It’s not Marx/Lenin, it’s Marat/Sade.


No more than Marxism does realism apply to Red Harvest, though that term is often bestowed upon Hammett.   Actually the word is not worth fighting over;  it has been soiled by an ilk of critic who restrict its use to what is sordid.   Leaving that aside, Red Harvest has little in common with such realistic novels as Buddenbrooks, Effi Briest, or Esther Waters, being closer in spirit to German expressionism.
The setting for the action, an unspecifiable place nicknamed “Poisonville”, isn’t really like the situated urban landscapes that would later characterize noir.   The lawless burg is like nothing so much as Brecht’s Mahogonny -- you might even suspect an influence, except that the Brecht/Weil opera had its Uraufführung a year after Red Harvest was published.  There are also affinities with the landscape of the „Naturtheater von Oklahoma“ in Amerika, by Kafka (who had never visited America), written in the 1910’s and fragmentarily published posthumously.   A story-arc of the later radio series “Johnny Dollar”  reproduces the general sense of pervasive rot in an entire small-city or large-town.    The detective of Red Harvest is also more like Johnny Dollar (insurance investigator) than the later classic P.I.s, since the Continental Op, like Agent Dollar, only acts private; he is actually given assignments by the Continental Detective Agency, an echo of Hammett’s earlier employer, the Pinkertons.  (Another reason it’d be touch to put a Wobbly slant on Red Harvest.)

To call Hammett’s technique “realist” (and that, in a commendatory sense) is off-base.   The setting is more like a pinball-table, or (in later ages) a video game.  There is no more plot than in a game of pinball.   Hammett has taken the lawless landscape of a Wild West town, and overlaid it lightly with the urban aesthetic that would be perfected by his disciple Raymond Chandler.

The main other character  is a wised-up gal, who knows the score because she has males in her thrall.  If it were a Western, she would be named Dolly; in the event,   she is named Dinah.   She catches on quick that the Op doesn’t precisely know what he is doing, but is improvising -- winging it.  Stir up the pot, see what floats to the top.   She shrugs and accepts this, as she must the quirks of all the many quirky men she has known.  She joins him in the racket:

If stirring things up is your system, I’ve got a swell spoon for you.
-- Dinah, in Red Harvest (1929), to the Continental Op

(We have looked at this approach in a recent sketch, Simulated Annealing and the Art of Detection.)

Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt "Poisonville"


The Dain Curse (1929)

The structure of this work is peculiar.  Narratively, it is a concatenation of three separate novelettes, each of which is brought to what, in other circumstances, would amount to a satisfactory mystery-story conclusion  within itself (the bar here being set  not especially high).  But they are tied together (would-be interwoven, though it doesn’t quite work) by the detective’s insistence  that the apparent individual solutions  are but mirages, that it all has to be interconnected at some deep level, the explanation of each isolated item  springing from the same deep taproot.   And in line with that, various characters we’d thought (and hoped) to have been done with, keep re-appearing out of nowhere.  Unfortunately, rather than leading to any genuine depth, this tout-se-tient (ou devrait se tenir) approach to his craft  involves the author in impossibly contorted explanations -- not even ingenious, just far-fetched.  And the abysmal upshot is that, instead of the classic scene in which the sleuth gathers the surviving house-guests around the fireplace and crisply lays out sequence and explanation of events, we get a long-winded tacked-on after-passage, in which brand-new plot-points are brought up for the first time in the course of the exegesis.    It is like an inverted shaggy-dog-story:  first we get the disappointing punch-line, and then the rambling anecdote-fleuve of the shaggy dog.

The book is also marred, especially towards the end, by the icky solicitude of the detective towards the girl (who has been nothing but trouble).   It’s not so much that it’s a December/June affair, as that the author himself is operating under obscure repressions -- which, however, briefly part in an allusion to algolagnia.   (An even more wince-making subplot weakens the Godfather novel, concerning a woman suffering from eurycolpia.  Mercifully, that part was omitted from the movie version.)




The Maltese Falcon (1930)

Sam Spade is voiced by Michael Madsen;  and as you might expect from his roles in “Reservoir Dogs” and “Kill Bill”,  he’s got a real rough edge to him, and a voice like coarse-grit sandpaper.  This differs from the Continental Op of the previous novel, who alternated awkwardly between a sort of rough draft of the tough-guy model, and a touchy-feely character mooning over the multiply-handicapped girl.

Whoever voices Gutman wisely decided that no-one can outGreenstreet Greenstreet, so he simply channels the latter, syllable for syllable and sebaceous chuckle as prescribed.  And again, it’s fun to listen to.  The pleasure of Greenstreet is mostly auditory anyway, not visual.

The novel, and the movie made from it, are satisfactory in every way.   At antipodes from the manie d’expliquer of the long-drawn-out, Hey-Jude conclusion to its predecessor from the year before, the dénouement is classic -- crisp and efficient, indeed scarcely even interested in explaining anything or getting at the truth, since “All the law wants is a fall-guy.”   And there --   stands --  Wilmer.

Bye-bye, Wilmer.


The Thin Man (1934)

All the characters are voiced by William Dufris.   He does a creditable job at all of them, especially the detective (Nick Charles); but, oddly, his female characters sound, not like real females (hard to do for a man) but like contemporary twenty-something meta- or metro-sexual males  with that weird drawl that some of them fancy.
The detective here is as different as can be from the ones in the two earlier novels.  He is droll;  an inveterate tippler (like Hammett himself);  and by no means a loner, but married to a woman with whom he can exchange quips.  That is a perfect formula for Hollywood; the resulting movie was successful, and had many sequels, all of which used “The Thin Man” in their titles.   Unfortunately, the “thin man” of the original novel  was not the continuing detective-hero, but a murder victim we never actually lay eyes on.   He is, in fact, a classic example of l’Arlésienne -- oft referred-to, but always “off”;  the novel might have been titled “Six Characters in Search of a McGuffin”.   Since the mysterious unseen figure that all the characters orbit, like planets around a dark star, no longer actually exists at the time of the action,  the tale is almost a shaggy-dog story.   Indeed, the novel contains (pointlessly) a shaggy-dog-story within the shaggy-dog-story:  a tale of cannibalism in the Old West, supposed to illustrate the morbid psychosexual interests of the Thin Man’s adolescent son (and thus, presumably, mark him for the reader  as some kind of suspect), but which never amounts to anything, nor figures later in the book.

For notes on other mysteries & thriller, try this:
=>  The Thriller Literature


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Is the President driving us towards nuclear war ?


No no, not the present POTUS.   There is commentary by the bushel about that, you don’t need more from me.

Rather, this is simply another noticing of historical precedents and parallels, for the benefit of those who were born yesterday.

~

There is no high-ranking military officer serving the current administration, remotely as scary General Curtis E. LeMay, a proponent of pre-emptive all-out nuclear war, and commander of the SAC (which was in a position to carry out his dream at a nod from their commander).  JFK didn’t like him, but didn’t fire him;  rather, he promoted him to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.   (Partly along the lines of the old maxim, “Better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.”  But that's a risky strategy. )   It would be anachronistic to call LeMay “a character out of Dr Strangelove”;  rather, that movie classic partly based its characters on him.

As McGeorge Bundy phrased it in July of 1961:

The only plan the United States had for the use of strategic weapons  was a massive, total, comprehensive  obliterating attack upon the Soviet Union -- an attack on the Warsaw Pact countries and Red China, [with] no provision for separating them out. … An attack on everything Red.”

Quite different from using a bunker buster on Pyongyang’s missile sites.

As indicated, JFK was not as hawkish as LeMay, nor even as his hot-headed brother RFK.   But he too could be provocative.  Re a June 3, 1961 head-to-head meeting with Khrushchev, which Kennedy prefaced by saying “This is the nut-cutter”:

“Force would be met by force,” Khrushchev warned Kennedy …
“The President concluded the conversation,” noted the transcript, “by observing that it would be a cold winter.”
-- Richard Reeves, President Kennedy:  Profile of Power (1993), p.  171

What -- switching the subject to something less controversial, like the weather, to avoid confrontation?  No;  then as now, there was a problem with self-censured news.

What Kennedy actually said was stronger:  “Then, Mr. Chairman, there will be war.  It will be a cold winter.”
-- id.

And, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, 18 Oct 1962:

Acheson was appalled when he met alone with the President, and heard him use the same phrase, “Pearl Harbor in reverse” -- as if the United States were planning a sneak attack without provocation.
“I don’t know where you got that,” Acheson said to John Kennedy. “It is unworthy of you to talk that way.”
-- id, p. 378

Similarly,

Stevenson was shaken by the President’s casual manner, as two years before  Kennedy had been shocked by Eisenhower’s casual talk of nuclear weapons.
-- id, p. 275

~

As always, our purpose is neither to trash JFK, nor to excuse the present fellow, but simply to provide a spot of perspective.

For the full roster of posts on this theme, click here.
For the post that launched the series:


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Word of the Day: "branquignol"


French politicians have  of late  been coming up with choice epithets for their opponents.   It’s fun, plus it guarantees headlines.  The latest:  Today’s JDD reports that premier ministre Edouard Philippe has mocked Les Républicains (the current cover-name for the disgraced UMP) as branquignols.  That means they’re barmy.
As for the etymology, the word is likely a blend of branlant ‘unstable’ and croquignole ‘a mild insult’.

As for politicians employing tasty-crunchy insult words  on our own side of the Atlantic, savor this:
http://worldofdrjustice.blogspot.com/2017/09/of-dullards-and-dotards.html

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Simulated Annealing and the Art of Detection



“My way of learning  is to heave a wild & unpredictable monkey-wrench  into the machinery.”
-- shamus Sam Spade, in The Maltese Falcon (1929)


Dashiel Hammett’s P.I.’s find themselves in large, chaotic situations, in which the methodical self-discipline of, say, Dragnet, won’t get you anywhere.   Joe Friday is scrupulous, professional, polite;  Hammett’s guys  are none of those things.
Nor do they follow the cool, cold-blooded approach of what we might dub “Newton’s method “of successive triangulations and approximations.  Instead it’s: stir up the pot. Stir and observe, stir and observe;  add bullets to taste, p.r.n.

~

And thus it is with Murphy, Private Eye.  He is no master of empirics nor of ratiocination, like Holmes;  nor of intuition into souls, like Father Brown;  but he’s got heart, and he can take a punch, and he’s got a gun;  plus what’s a fella to do?  He’s got a Mission.

So Murphy has what starts out as yet another hopeless case:  His so-called “client” is a ditsy dame with no simoleons to pay him;  plus she gets bumped off practically at the outset;  but he soldiers on.  Because that’s what soldiers do, when they’re on a Mission.
And so it looks hopeless but, he stirs the pot a little, tries this and that, and the next thing you know …

To following this sobering yet inspiriting adventure, simply click here.

For more from Murphy -- philosopher and P.I. -- check out his blog:

=>   http://murphybros.blogspot.com/

Rorschach Morphology


In a classic cartoon, two psychiatrists are depicted in the first panel  as approaching each other, each saying “Good morning.”
In the second panel, as they walk away from either other, each has a thought-balloon, thinking:  “I wonder what he meant by that?”
It’s supposed to be a joke on psychiatrists;  though indeed, anyone familiar with psychology and linguistics recognizes that to be a quite valid, indeed deep, question.

~

So this morning, we have a “Good morning” scandal.   It has been reasonably widely (though not well) reported in the mainstream world press, though so far not the American.  E.g. a high-circulation popular Parisian daily:

http://www.leparisien.fr/politique/israel-un-palestinien-arrete-apres-une-erreur-de-traduction-de-facebook-22-10-2017-7348206.php

La police israélienne a arrêté par erreur la semaine dernière un Palestinien qui avait publié sur Facebook une photo de lui accompagnée des mots «bonne journée ». Selon le quotidien israélien «Haaretz», pour une raison encore inexpliquée, le logiciel de traduction du réseau social a converti cette phrase en «attaquez-les » en hébreu et «faites leur du mal » en anglais.

The BBC’s brief note on the matter  is sociolinguistically useless for readers who wish to figure things out for themselves, since it shows neither the photo nor the Arabic:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-41714152
Israeli police arrested a Palestinian man last week after a Facebook post he made saying "good morning" in Arabic was mistranslated to read "attack them" in Hebrew, local media have reported.

Police confirmed that the construction worker was briefly held under suspicion of incitement but was released as soon as the mistake was realised.

The post showed a photo of the worker next to a bulldozer in the West Bank.

Such vehicles have been used to attack Israelis in the past.

There is only one difference in lettering between the colloquial Arabic phrase for "good morning to you all" and "hurt them", pointed out The Times of Israel.

Actually the Times of Israel doesn’t “point out” any such thing.  It merely piggybacks off an earlier Haaretz report, and does not give either the original Arabic nor the purported “one difference in lettering” that would give the meaning “hurt them”.  -- Indeed, to anyone familiar with printed Arabic, that proviso is a cop-out anyway:  The (usual) unvoweled Arabic ductus is so low in redundancy  that, “merely” by changing “one letter”,  you can radically change the meaning of just about any short message.   -- More anon.

Here is the beginning of the original article in Haaretz:

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.818437
No Arabic-speaking police officer read the post before arresting the man, who works at a construction site in a West Bank settlement

That detail provides an innocent explanation of why the fellow would take a selfie with a bulldozer.  He probably drives the thing.

It continues:

The Israel Police mistakenly arrested a Palestinian worker last week because they relied on automatic translation software to translate a post he wrote on his Facebook page. The Palestinian was arrested after writing “good morning,” which was misinterpreted; no Arabic-speaking police officer read the post before the man’s arrest.

That bit about the dreadful consequences of not having an Arabist on your payroll is a pleasing one (to Arabists).   Compare this:


~

Back to the psycholinguistic intricacies of “Good morning”.

The linguistically naïve reader (here in the hands of linguistically naïve journalists, so no help) will assume that “Good morning” in Arabic  is completely straightforward, and that any translator -- human or machine -- that couldn’t translate that simple phrase, would be utterly incompetent.

Now, there is in fact  a straightforward, MSA phrase for ‘Good morning’ in Arabic,
صباح الخير
Phonetically (and we’ll stick to phonetics from here on, since Microsoft often mangles Arabic script): ṣabāḥ al-xayr.  Literally, ‘morning of goodness’ (syntactically, an idafa), to which the usual Arabic morphosemantic rules apply.
But that is not what he wrote.

Einführung in die vergleichende “Guten Morgen”-Morphosemantik

Of the languages with which I am familiar, German comes closest to having a word-for-word equivalent to “Good morning”:  Guten Morgen.  Yet even that is not linguistically straightforward:  the idiom involves not guter, but guten -- grammatically an accusative.   So, you understand the way the phrase is used, but you probably have never reflected on its grammar, and perhaps could not explain it if you did.
Further, in parts of Germany (e.g. Schweinfurt, where I lived for a summer with a German family), people don’t usually say Guten Morgen anyway, they say Grüß Gott -- a phrase I am fond of, and frequently use, but whose syntax is obscure;  I suppose it’s a sort of iāfa.

In French, a word-for-word equivalent to the greeting is not current.  You don’t say “bon matin”, you say bonjour, literally ‘good day’, or (as in the Le Parisien version) bonne journée (the nuance of difference being untranslatable).
In Spanish, you must go even further afield, using a plural, buenos días, lit. ‘good days’.


As to what such phrases are used for, there are subtle distinctions.  Thus, in current American English, Good morning! is simply a greeting -- a pure illocution, like hi or hello, with no descriptive content.  Good night!, by contrast, cannot be used as a greeting:  it is a formula of leave-taking -- a valediction.   Good day!, the word-for-word equivalent of the French greeting bonjour, is no longer used in everyday American English, though it survives as a breezy greeting in Australia -- the iconic G’dye!  Good afternoon and Good evening can still be used in the U.S., though they sound a bit formal.  And at least the latter has also been used (at one time, primarily perhaps in England) as a valediction.

As mentioned, French doesn’t normally use “Bon matin”, at least not the variety of French I’m familiar with.  Bonne matinée might be used but, like bonne journée, my hunch is that it is not so much a pure greeting as an optative, relating to what might follow the encounter, like the trademarked American “Have a nice day!”  (I first heard that one in Berkeley, California, decades ago;  since then it has spread like kudzu  throughout the English-speaking lands.) 

As for Guten Tag, there’s that accusative, a fossilized echo of its likely origin in such a phrase as “Ich wünsche Ihnen einen guten Tag”, which is an optative.  Do contemporary speakers feel this influence, in which case Guten Morgen is not after all an exact equivalent of Good morning ?  Hard to say.

In Modern Standard Arabic (and in most dialects), ṣabāḥ al-xayr corresponds pretty closely to “Good morning”, but things get colorful from there.  Although you may respond in kind, usually (in line with the Koranic injunction, “When you are greeted, respond with the same greeting, or a better one”) you say something like abā al-nūr (‘morning of light’),  or ṣabāḥ al-full or ṣabāḥ al-yāsimīn (both meaning ‘morning of jasmine’).

In the dialects, things get wilder.  Thus, in Yemeni, a very characteristic morning greeting is kaṣbaḥtu, to which the standard reply is  baḥḥakum Allah bi-xeir (sic; the initial ṣ has been dropped).   And -- save the mark! -- there even exist untranslatable Yemeni expressions involving the ṣ-b-ḥ root, which my Sanaani teacher explained as “a morning warning” -- thus potentially, in line with the interpretation of the Israeli police, a threat.

However, what the Palestinian really wrote was:

يصبحهم

And in view of what has gone before, you will no longer be inclined to jump to conclusions that you understand all the nuances of that.

First, we cannot  without further analysis  give a phonetic transcription of that, since it is a script sans diacritics.   Morphologically, it’s a third-person-masculine-singular transitive verb, with third-person-masculine-plural direct object.   The verb could be either Form I, II, or IV, all of which have transitive uses. 

So, how did the translator the Israelis relied on  parse it?

The “automatic translation software” is not identified, though its digital facepage is doubtless blushing magenta.    I just tried it in Google Translate, and (taking the verb as form-IV) it renders the Arabic phrase  as “become them”, so the mystery remains.

The most straightforward assumption is that we are here dealing simply with the MSA verb, form II (syntactically transitive, semantically delocutive), in which case  the expression means “He says ‘Good morning’ to them.” 

That is actually a somewhat strange thing to say.  You’d expect more like “(I say) “Good morning” (to you(-all))”.   “He” makes sense as referring to the fellow in the photograph; but who are ‘they’?   The object-pronoun is definitely third person (and thus, the BBC rendering as "good morning to you all" is incorrect).
Whether there is some further nuance in Palestinian, I do not know offhand.  And as for a translation as “attack”, with the information we have been given so far, it is inexplicable.

~

For another cautionary-tale  about the perils of interpreting  brief swatches of Arabic, try this:
http://worldofdrjustice.blogspot.com/2017/10/rorschach-philology.html



[Appendix]  The article that prompted this post  was of the “Mistranslation Howlers” motif;  my reply was partly out of annoyance with that complacent genre, which often finds linguistic illiterates gloating  over anecdotes that turn out  either to be more gray-area than appears at first blush (such as the one above), or to be urban legends.  A likely example of the latter is the hardy perennial about the Chevy Nova being marketed among hispanophones under that name.   Laymen observe triumphally that, in Spanish, “No va” means ‘it doesn’t go’; epic fail !!  Actually, nova is a perfectly normal word of Spanish astronomical terminology (https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nova );  it is neither spelled like “no va” (being one word, not two), nor pronounced the same (being forestressed).


The “Good morning” article was at the expense of the Israeli counter-terrorist authorities.  There seems indeed to have been a misstep in the software, though one more subtle than most accounts suggested.  The article first appeared in Haaretz, itself an Israeli publication;  its appearance may have been unmotivated other than by the universal Schadenfreude over (alleged) mistranslations (some of which pass into legend, like “Ich bin ein Berliner”, whether or not the interpretation is linguistically well-founded), or there might have been a little Israel-internal scalpel to grind -- nescio.  But I would like to add a further observation, of respect for those who must work the intricate and dangerous CT mission.




Notoriously, terrorists (and criminals) use cover-terms.  The IC took a beating over a now-celebrated message intercepted (we are told) from Afghanistan on September 10, 2001: “The match begins tomorrow.”  The post-hoc Besserwisser wagged their fingers and berated the Agency for not getting that message translated until September 12 (which, given the exotic language of the message, and the skeleton crew left in CT after the relentless whittling-down of the Clinton and Bush years, is only too understandable.)  More to the point than the timeliness, is the interpretation:  Was it really obvious, or should it have been obvious, that this particular message, among a mass of similar things, foretold the 9/11 attacks?  I personally have no idea (though a later news story did aver that the message was eventually determined to have referred, in fact, to an upcoming soccer-match).

Now, as mentioned, the message in the current case  is rather cryptic:

يصبحهم

It is not (according to a Comment to this post, below, from a colleague with significant language experience in Palestine) a particularly usual way to wish someone (or some third parties, in this case) top o’ the morning.   Might it have been an allusion, a wink-wink, or at least contextually suggested one, to the Israel CT team?  In other words, we need not assume that the team just blindly-blandly took the Hebrew mistranslation as the final word on the subject.  They might (given their special knowledge of the folkways of their target-set) actually have known what they were doing.
 


But surely (objects the straw-man, less savvy than yourself), something as simple as a verb meaning ‘to offer a morning greeting’  could not be re-interpreted to mean anything nefarious.  Yet as present company has learned, language has more tricks up its sleeve  than most folks give it credit for.  Consider the following famous phrase of German, which contains a verb meaning ‘greet’:

Und täglich grüßt das Murmeltier

Now, I know German reasonably well;  but when I first encountered that expression, my hair did stand on end (like quills upon ye fretful Murmeltier).   It has the d’outre-tombe knell of those mystery radio-phrases that Cocteau (with a wry nod to maquisard comsec during WWII) stuck into his 1950 movie Orphée ("L'oiseau chante  avec ses doigts").   What could it possibly mean?  Were it my day-job to interpret such things, if it came up in traffic  my first instinct would be to shut down all our embassies instanter.   Yet it is merely the German version of the movie-title “Groundhog Day”.

Inghimasi Murmeltier ... greets you


.