Merriam-Webster Blames Apartheid Reference on Computer Error


The Merriam-Webster dictionary has removed a reference to Israel as an example of apartheid, in response to a complaint from a reader, The Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday.

The objectionable passage, which had been culled from the Star-Tribune of Minnesota, read: “As Israel prepares to formally annex the most fertile, most water-rich third of the Palestinian West Bank, will America continue to enable Israeli apartheid and the Hundred Years’ War on Palestine?”

In a response to the reader, Merriam-Webster Correspondence Coordinator Carolyn Polis said the sentence had been removed. She went on to explain that it was not the result of human, but machine, error. Example sentences come from an automated program, and “there are occasionally some objectionable example sentences that sneak through our filters,” Polis wrote back.

“It is, of course, never our intention to provide example sentences that may be offensive or inappropriate to any of our readers, and we do our best to remove those example sentences immediately when they are noticed or brought to our attention. We appreciate you reaching out to us and helping us ensure that our information is as accurate and useful as possible.”