Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been accused of spreading a “blood libel” against Jews.
The charge was made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following a speech Abbas gave before the European Parliament on Thursday, June 23, and it has been picked up and faithfully repeated by the media.
“Echoing anti-Semitic claims that led to the mass killings of European Jews in medieval times, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority accused rabbis in Israel of calling on their government to poison the water used by Palestinians,” the New York Times reported in the lead paragraph of a story published on 6/23.
“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of spreading a blood libel in his address Thursday to the European Parliament in Brussels,” reported The Forward.
“His comments were largely debunked by international news outlets,” claims the Washington Post. “They were also flatly denied by the Israelis, who compared Abbas’s words to the anti-Semitic blood libels of medieval Europe.”
And finally the Jewish Telegraphic Agency–the Palestinian leader’s speech “echoes medieval anti-Semitic libels,” the story contends, while also throwing in a couple of quotes worth noting…from a European Jewish leader who condemns the speech as a “blood libel,” and from the ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt, who denounces Abbas’ remarks as “reminiscent of age-old anti-Semitic stereotypes.”
The story was reported in other media as well, but I deliberately chose these four–the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and The Forward–just to make a point: that when it comes to reporting on the bloody conflict in Occupied Palestine, the so-called “mainstream media” and the Jewish media are all in line with each other.
So what did Abbas say that was so terrible? The quote attributed to him by the Washington Post is as follows:
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. Isn’t that clear incitement to commit mass killings against the Palestinian people?
The call for murder supposedly came from Rabbi Shlomo Mlma, who heads an organization called the “Council of Rabbis in the West Bank Settlements.” All the media assure us that no such rabbi or organization exists (an assurance based apparently on a report in Haaretz).
Whether there is or isn’t a Rabbi Mlma, or whether someone did or didn’t actually call for the poisoning of water is hard to say, but apparently, the origin of the report traces back to the Turkish news organization Anadolu.
The Jewish and mainstream writers–in addition to being bothered by Abbas’ supposed anti-Semitism–are vexed for another reason as well: the Palestinian leader’s 43-minute speech was met by a standing ovation from parliamentarians in Brussels. Hence the heavy pouring-on of the “blood libel” smear–which basically is the standard “you’re-an-anti-Semite” smear on steroids.
“What a horrible, despicable person that Mahmoud Abbas must be–engaging in blood libels against Jews!”–this of course is how a good many “average readers” may respond to such reporting.
But another way of responding might be by taking a different perspective and asking oneself the following question: Is it humanly possible to commit a “blood libel” against a nation presently engaged in genocide against another group of people?
Or perhaps even more pertinently: How mentally moonstruck and psychopathic do you have to be to apply the “blood libel” smear to a member of the group that’s actually being exterminated?
According to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, any one of the following acts, “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group,” constitutes genocide:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Any objective reading of the above would find Israel probably guilty at least on items a-d. And given the Zionist state’s proclivities for lengthy detentions of Palestinian children, a reasonably fair international criminal court might be tempted to throw in item e as well.
Moreover, all of this bodily and mental harm, all of this calculated destruction, all of these acts of murder–individual as well as periodic mass murders–are carried out by Israel with the support of what appears to be the vast majority of the world’s Jews.
But yet in spite of it all, in spite of the horror of genocide transpiring day after day in front of our eyes, the media find a compelling need to accuse Mahmoud Abbas of “blood libel.” How can that be?
How can it be that not a single one of these reports in the Jewish and mainstream media bothered to mention an actual case of water poisoning known to have occurred in Israel’s past? This took place in 1948 when Zionists poisoned the water supply of the city of Acre with typhoid pathogens in what was in essence a biological warfare attack.
The city water supply came from a nearby village name Kabri through an aqueduct. To shorten the siege and enter the city, the Zionist gangs injected typhoid in the aqueduct. Many Palestinians and some 55 British soldiers, who were in the city, got infected. This crime was called the operation “Shlach Lachmecha” as described by the Israeli military historian Urin Milstein [Wendy Barnaby’s “The Plague Makers: The Secret World of Biological Warfare”, London, Vision Paperbacks, 1997, pp 114-116]
The attack on the water supply led to the fall of the city and the forced evacuation of its inhabitants, as the above writer notes:
Burdened by the epidemic the city fell easy prey to the Zionist gangs, who went into a killing spree and a systematic looting campaign as reported by Lieutenant Petite, a French UN observer. He reported the cold-blooded murder of at least 100 Arab civilians, who refused to evacuate the city as ordered by the Zionists. Some of them were captured by the Zionist terrorists and were forced at gun point to drink cyanide; the case of Mohamed Fayez Soufi is one example as documented in “The Palestinian Catastrophe” by Michael Palumbo.
There are also reports of Zionists of 1947-48 who attempted similar water-borne attacks against Arab forces in Egypt and Syria, and more recently we’ve had reports of Jewish settlers poisoning Palestinian livestock, including one incident which occurred last year and which resulted in the deaths of 13 sheep near the West Bank village of Aqraba.
How is it that the media feel free to publish reports accusing Abbas of “blood libel” while mentioning none of this history in the context of these accusations? Is the omission simply because they are unaware of the history? Or is it that they are aware of it but have no qualms about engaging in intentionally dishonest reporting?
Moreover, it isn’t as if Israeli rabbis haven’t called for murder in the past. In 2009, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira published the book, Torat Ha’Melech, or The King’s Torah, which justified the killing of Gentile babies “if it is clear they will grow up to harm us.” There have also been reports of rabbis calling for Palestinians to be killed. One such call emerged in 2008, while another case got reported in January of this year–when Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu is said to have posted such a call on his Facebook page. There is also a report that Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky advised Israeli paramedics in December of last year that if they found a Palestinian in a life-threatening condition they “should leave him or her to die.”
And aside from the rabbis, there are numerous racist comments of Israeli officials such as Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who two years ago referred to Palestinians as “little snakes” in a since-deleted Facebook post. Some construed Shaked’s words at the time as an actual call for genocide, possibly because they included the following:
This is a war. It is not a war against terror, and not a war against extremists, and not even a war against the Palestinian Authority. These too are forms of avoiding reality. This is a war between two people. Who is the enemy? The Palestinian people. Why? Ask them, they started.
More recently, in May of this year, Shaked–disregarding her own call for Palestinian blood two years ago–actually went so far as to accuse European leaders of engaging in “blood libels” against Jews, as reported by the Washington Post:
“In the past, we saw European leaders speaking against the Jews. Now, we see them speaking against Israel. It is the same anti-Semitism of blood libels, spreading lies, distorting reality and brainwashing people into hating Israel and the Jews,” Shaked said in an interview with The Washington Post.
She said supporters of movements such as BDS, which, according to its website, calls for putting economic and political pressure on Israel in a bid to force it to comply with international law and gain rights for Palestinians, are “using the same kind of anti-Semitism but instead of saying they are against the Jews, they say they are against Israel.”
“Blood libels” such as opining, mistakenly or not, that an Israeli rabbi might call for the poisoning of someone’s water well–presumably this is the sort of “blood libel” Shaked had in mind. And yet here again the Washington Post leaves out the context, making no mention of Shaked’s prior Facebook post describing Palestinians as “snakes.” Interestingly, the WP reporter who wrote the story on Shaked, Ruth Eglash, is the same reporter who authored the report on Abbas which I quoted above.
According to the WP, “Ruth Eglash is a reporter for The Washington Post based in Jerusalem. She was formerly a reporter and senior editor at the Jerusalem Post and freelanced for international media.”
You can find out more about Eglash and her apparent conflicts of interest here.
On Saturday, June 25, Abbas’ office issued a statement of clarification rejecting the accusations of “blood libel” but acknowledging that reports crediting statements ostensibly made by the Rabbi Mlma had been “baseless.”
“Palestine is the cradle of the three monotheistic faiths. We stand strongly against any attack on any religion,” the statement said. “President Mahmoud Abbas has affirmed that he didn’t intend to do harm to Judaism or to offend Jewish people around the world.”
Eglash seems to be mollified. Abbas has “apologized for offending Jewish people around the world with a classic anti-Semitic trope,” she reported.
All of this of course raises a number of questions. One is…Do media owners, along with the reporters they hire, have a vested, institutional interest in shaping views about Israel, and by extension Jews in general, in a certain manner? A second question is…Does this institutional interest, if it is applicable, also apply to Jewish historians? And a third question would be…How many countries (since, after all, the specter of “blood libels” has so conveniently been raised) have Jews been kicked out of over history? According to one source, the number is 109 expulsions–out of various countries, cities, and regions–dating back to the year 250 A.D.
This list includes England in 1290 and Switzerland in 1348, followed by three expulsions the following year–Saxony, Hungary, and the city of Heilbronn in Germany. In 1360 we had a second expulsion from Hungary, and there were a total of seven expulsions from France–in the years 554, 561, 1182, 1306, 1322, 1394, and 1453.
Other expulsions included Italy in 855, Upper Bavaria in 1276; Prussia 1510; Strasbourg 1514; Genoa 1515; Bavaria 1551; Prague 1561; Wurzburg 1567; the city of Kiev in 1619, followed by a an expulsion from entire country of Ukraine 29 years later–in 1648. And of course there was perhaps the most famous expulsion of all–that from Spain in 1492, the year Columbus set sail for America (perhaps he couldn’t wait to get away).
And that’s just to name a few.
Were all these expulsions predicated upon nothing more than “blood libels”? This of course would be one possibility. The other possibility is that the Jewish historians have it only half right–and that most of these incidents, or a substantial percentage of them, could well have been prompted by “blood,” though without the “libel.”
There are those who might be inclined to take the word of the Jewish historians; others will be guided by the law of probability. One thing is for certain though: if Zionist apologists persist in accusing people of spreading “blood libels,” “tropes,” “age-old anti-Semitic stereotypes,” and the like, questions such as these invariably are going to keep getting raised.
One would think the apologists, or at least the smarter ones, would take a cue and desist. But as we all know, some people have a hard time learning from their mistakes. And Zionists, most especially the more strident ones, often are their own worst enemies.
Richard Edmondson is an author, novelist, poet, and journalist whose writings often focus on Middle East issues, the Zionist lobby, and religion. His latest novel is The Memoirs of Saint John: When the Sandstone Crumbles, a story about an archaeological team doing a dig in Syria and set amidst the current conflict in the country.
In 2014 Richard attended an International Conference on Combating Terrorism and Religious Extremism, held in Damascus. The book is part two in the Memoirs of Saint John series.
Two other books by Richard are Rising Up: Class Warfare in America from the Streets to the Airwaves, relating his experiences founding and operating an unlicensed or “pirate” FM radio station in San Francisco in the 1990s, as well as a volume of poetry entitled American Bus Stop: Essay and Poems on Hope and Homelessness.
Richard is cognizant of the words of the early Christian writer Tertullian, who in the second century-basically prognosticating the fall of the Roman Empire-wrote: “We have made merry amid the ludicrous cruelties of the noonday exhibition.”
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