Last week I wrote about the disgraceful “water-libel” published by the Independent newspaper, where Israel was accused of turning off the water to Palestinian villages, particularly during Ramadan. Despite the refutations by several Israeli bloggers as well as official denials by the Israeli authorities, the Independent has not apologized or even retracted besides a one-line edit to the article to the effect that “COGAT says it was a burst water pipe and not a deliberate water cut”.
It should not be surprising that Palestinian President-for-Life Mahmoud Abbas took this watery blood libel and spewed it out – at the European Parliament of all places. Political commentator Evelyn Gordon gives us the revolting details: (via Calev Ben Yefuneh):
Hats off to the British. Aside from all the other reasons to applaud Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (i.e. democracy, national sovereignty), it has voted to secede from an enabler of Palestinian terror and hate education. And if that accusation sounds harsh, consider what transpired in the EU Parliament on the very day of the Brexit referendum.
While the British were voting, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was addressing the EU Parliament in Brussels. By any objective standard, the visit didn’t start off well: Upon arriving, Abbas immediately rejected a personal plea by the parliament’s president, Martin Schulz, to meet with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who happened to be in Brussels at the same time. [See the Jpost report on Abbas’s rejection of Rivlin’s overture – Ed.] But things quickly got worse when Abbas started speaking.
Abbas’s speeches are always full of anti-Israel slander, and this one was no exception. He accused Israel of “massacring” Palestinians’ “history, heritage, identity and geopolitical entity.” He termed the Israeli “occupation” the longest in history and deemed it uniquely evil, “unlike anything that has happened to any other people anywhere in the world,” to quote one reporter’s live tweeting of the speech (I haven’t managed to find a transcript); in reality, of course, not only have there been many longer occupations, but few conflicts have ever entailed so little bloodshed. He accused Israel of being “fascist” and “racist,” of committing extrajudicial killings, and of turning “our country into an open-air prison.” All this is pretty standard, as was the conclusion, in which he paid lip service to his willingness to make peace with the monstrously evil country he just described.
But even by Abbas’s standards, this speech was exceptionally vile in two respects. First, he accused Israel of responsibility for all terrorism worldwide, ludicrously asserting that “Once the occupation ends, terrorism will disappear, there will be no more terrorism in the Middle East, or anywhere else in the world.” After all, Israel is clearly the reason why Muslims are killing fellow Muslims by bombing mosques, schools, and hospitals in Muslim countries like Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan, right?
Then, he resurrected a medieval blood libel, accusing Israel of poisoning Palestinian wells. Granted, he was speaking in Arabic, and this accusation wasn’t in his prepared English translation; but the simultaneous translator rendered it into English, and Israeli reporters had no trouble hearing it; thus one has to assume it was audible to EU parliamentarians, as well.
So how did those parliamentarians respond? By giving him a standing ovation. In other words, they told him that hurling blood libels at Israel and refusing to meet with its president and would not be penalized, but rewarded.
Tablet Magazine takes up the story and runs with it, noting that even Reuters noted the libelous nature of Abbas’s wild accusations:
Just 24 minutes into his address, the Palestinian president veered into explicit anti-Semitism, telling the assembled European dignitaries that “only a week ago, a number of rabbis in Israel announced, and made a clear announcement, demanding that their government poison the water to kill the Palestinians.” As Reuters reported, this “appeared to be an invocation of a widely debunked media report that recalled a medieval anti-Semitic libel.” Jews were accused throughout the Middle Ages of poisoning Europe’s wells, most notoriously during the Black Plague. Such slanders invariably led to the slaughter of Jews, and have resurfaced through the centuries to the present day.
Remarkably, no European official has as yet rebuked Abbas for his bigoted remarks, despite the disturbing historical legacy of the libel on the continent. That the Palestinian leader would publicly make such remarks, however, is less remarkable.
The article continues with Abbas’s Holocaust-denial as well as other antisemitic utterances and notes:
Abbas’s latest whopper raises some troubling questions. In April, when former London mayor Ken Livingstone publicly declared that Hitler “supported Zionism,” he was widely pilloried across the British political spectrum, debunked by scholars and the press, and suspended from the Labour party. Yet oddly, even as Abbas continues to make similar and worse anti-Jewish statements in public forums, he has largely been given a free pass by the media and Western leaders. His spurious accusation of Israeli genocide in 2014 at the United Nations, for instance, was not even mentioned in the New York Times report on the speech.
This is not simply a question of journalistic accuracy about one man’s prejudice. It gets to the heart of understanding the Israeli-Palestinian impasse. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing government’s policies undoubtedly deserve their share of the blame for the failure of recent peace negotiations. But surely the fact that their Palestinian counterpart is led by an unreconstructed anti-Semite who denies the Holocaust and repeats medieval blood libels also plays a role.
I would wish to note here that although I don’t think for one minute that Netanyahu is infallible, I don’t agree that Netanyahu or his government’s policies deserve any blame for the failure of any peace negotiations. No matter what concessions Netanyahu has offered – including crossing the Likud’s red line of a two-state solution, Abbas has rejected them all.
Returning to Abbas’s disgraceful libel, here he is in full technicolour:
An uproar ensued after his speech libelling nameless “Israeli rabbis” for calling to poison wells , and Abbas retracted. Only he didn’t really. It was a “Sorry, not sorry” excuse for an apology. Israellycool tells us more about his dishonest retraction: (some emphases added):
Following the uproar in the wake of his water blood libel to the EU parliament – which even included a NY Times report by Diaa Hadid decrying it (but not from the EU parliament itself, which applauded him after the speech) – PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ PLO has retracted it.
The comments prompted a harsh condemnation from Israel, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accusing Abbas of propagating blood libel, referring to anti-Semitic allegations against Jews that arose in the Middle Ages.
The PLO’s statement Saturday said that Abbas “rejected all claims that accuse him and the Palestinian people of offending the Jewish religion.
“After it has become evident that the alleged statements by a rabbi on poisoning Palestinian wells, which were reported by various media outlets, are baseless, President Mahmoud Abbas has affirmed that he didn’t intend to do harm to Judaism or to offend Jewish people around the world,” the statement read.
The retraction also added that Abbas condemned all accusations against him of anti-Semitism.
But here’s the deal. Even this retraction is dishonest.
As I posted last week, the blood libel seems to have originated with the PLO itself, being first published by the PLO’s National Bureau for the Defense of the Land and to Resist the Settlements on June 16th – days before it appeared in other news outlets. So when the PLO retraction blames it on “various media outlets,” they are deliberately and dishonestly hiding the fact they were the ones who started it, these media outlets merely parroting the PLO story.
In other words, this came from Abbas. His own PLO started the blood libel and he embellished on it, trying to make it sound even worse when he stood up in front of the EU Parliament.
And the EU Parliament? As Evelyn Gordon noted in her article, they applauded dozens of times.
What a disgrace! Another reason that I am delighted that Britain has Brexited.