A few weeks ago I wrote about the Palestinians’ water libels against Israel in which Israel was accused of cutting off water to Palestinian villages. The water libel has not gone away but, just like the antisemitism that fed this libel, it has mutated into a a slightly different version. In this version Israel was accused of “not providing adequate water to Palestinians” – on German public television no less. It is gratifying to note that the show aroused huge controversy and criticism within Germany itself as well as from Israel and the Jewish community:
BERLIN – A German public television broadcast that accused Israel of failing to provide adequate water to Palestinians in the West Bank is now embroiled in a row over allegations it demonized the Jewish state.
Since the show from ARD’s studio in Tel Aviv aired on August 14, the program and its journalists have faced sharp criticism from politicians, viewers and media experts.
“Why did Tagesschau broadcast a badly researched – or even not researched report – quote a questionable ‘expert’ and convey falsehoods?” asked Social Democratic Bundestag deputy Michaela Engelmeier on her Facebook page, saying she expects the supervisory board of the public station will address the report and issue a correction.
The water expert Engelmeier referenced is Clemens Messerschmid, a German national who lives in the West Bank and has contributed articles to pro-boycott Israel and anti-Semitic websites, including the German-language Muslim-Markt website, which supports Iran’s regime. Germany’s intelligence agency has monitored Muslim-Markt and said it propagates “anti-Zionist and anti-Israel propaganda.”
Avraham Nir-Feldklein, the deputy chief of Israel’s embassy in Berlin, told the Bild newspaper the ARD report contained “one-sided and false accusations against Israel and did not ask for Israel’s position.”
ARD reporters Susanne Glass and Markus Rosch wrote on the station’s website that they could not find Israeli experts because of the “Jewish holiday.” They did not specify to what “holiday” they were referring. In any case, critics said there was no time-sensitive requirement for the report and that the journalists should have waited to secure comments from Israeli hydrology experts.
But the German journalists need have gone no further than the Palestinians themselves! The Palestinian Water Authority has accused employees of the Palestinian town of Sair of stealing water:
The Palestinian Water Authority and the Sa’ir Municipality are at odds over the disappearance of large amounts of water from Sa’ir, a town of 25,000 northeast of Hebron, as the region experiences water shortages.
The PWA, which coordinates and regulates the distribution of water in the Palestinian territories, said in an August 12 statement that it had uncovered an ongoing water-theft operation in the village.
A number of Sa’ir residents have long made illegal openings in the village’s pipes, diverting water without the knowledge of the water authority. However, in this case, the authority accused the Sa’ir Municipality of being behind the theft and, in coordination with the Palestinian Customs Authority, arrested 13 municipal employees, including Mayor Kayed Jaradat.
Jaradat, a top Fatah leader and former Palestinian ambassador to two African countries, on Thursday denied the charges to The Jerusalem Post in his office in the Sa’ir Municipality.
“The accusation that the municipality has stolen water is completely false. Members of the municipality’s water department have never illegally diverted water,” he said.
The mayor admitted, however, that some residents do divert water illegally.
“I know that there are cases of theft, but none of them has involved municipal employees and, as a mayor, I do not have the tools to monitor them,” he said, calling on PA Hebron Governor Kamal Hamid to open an investigation to examine the facts about what is taking place.
The only upside to this story is that the Palestinians didn’t accuse Israel of stealing the water. Maybe peace is about to break out…?