What were they thinking?

2 illuminated billboard ANC ads appeared at the Grayston Drive off-ramp of the M1 in Sandton this week. In Hebrew! Actually, in Hebraic gobbledygook!
by ANT KATZ | Nov 13, 2013

Many among local Jewry claimed to be offended by what they saw as an ‘insensitive’ campaign which they felt were strategically placed to target the historical wealthy funders of ANC election campaigns.

The truth of the matter seems to be almost as bizarre as the many stories doing the rounds in the community.

It seems that the ANC in Gauteng have briefed their election team to reach out to minority communities – resulting in adverts in Greek, Portuguese, etc. But someone at the ad agency seems to have goofed, an inside source told Jewish Report on condition of anonymity, and made two cardinal mistakes.

“The first mistake was in assuming SA Jewry are fluent Hebrew readers,” said the source. “It would be like trying to speak to the local Italian community in Latin and expecting them to understand it!”

9f-ANC1The second big mistake seems to have been that the ad agency tried to use an internet service to translate the message they were trying to convey – and had nobody to proof read it – resulting in the signboards meaning nothing to most SA Jews, and being the laughing stock of Israeli residents – most of whom are not eligible to vote anyway.

 “They think that by writing in Hebrew it will help improve their relationship with Jews,” said the source angrily.

In the sign at right, for example, this reporter was particularly confused by the first word (from right, obviously), as the letters Bet, Tet and Reish mean nothing at all in Hebrew. Until a smarter journo pointed out that if one types “better” into Google Translate, it offers this transliteration.

Jewish Report mustered two Israelis and a competent SA Hebrew speaker and, as best as they were able to work out, what the ad agency people were trying to say in the top poster was: “In 2014 vote for ANC” whereas it actually sort of reads “2014 ANC you should vote for.”

In the second poster the consensus is that the copywriter was trying to say “The living is better in Gauteng: but why the ‘b’ Gauteng, and of course the hilarious gaffe in “better” were too good to pass up.


  1. 2 Vivian 18 Nov
    Lost in translation ... made my Monday, enjoyed the laugh
  2. 1 Sarah 01 Dec
    Random acts of Hebrew must mean something :-)


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