I would never rely on an automated online translation service to communicate with someone who speaks a foreign language. I might use it for a short sentence, or with apologies in advance, but never in a formal sense.
The Israeli journalists who questioned the Dutch Foreign Minister using a web translator must be extremely embarrassed.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry isn’t too happy either. “How could this email possibly have been sent? These journalists have sparked a major, major incident,” said an Israeli official. “Sure he can’t understand many of the questions, because the English is so bad. But he is being asked about the sleeping arrangements of his mother!”
Apparently the failed translation attempt was from Hebrew to English. I wonder what they would have got from a Hebrew-Dutch service if they’d found one.
I find the web translators useful for gaining a basic understanding of web sites, especially those in German and Dutch, which I partly understand anyway. That’s all I use them for.