It is 24 hours after Abbas’ blood libel speech at the EU parliament.
It was widely reported – Reuters and the New York Times both featured his lies in their articles. Even Al Arabiya’s coverage noted that there was no evidence for the claim.
Yet the only groups that have condemned it so far are groups that are explicitly Zionist to begin with. (Or they claim to be, in J-Street‘s case, even though that group seems to have ignored Abbas’ many previous statements that are nearly as inflammatory and false.)
The EU parliament gave Abbas a a 30-second standing ovation after the speech. European Parliament President Martin Schulz welcomed him by saying, “Your presence here today, the day after President Rivlin delivered his address, sends a strong signal that the will to achieve a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine is still alive.” But he has been silent since then.
QUESTION: Are you familiar with the comments – the part of his speech in which he said that there were some rabbis who were wanting to poison Palestinian water? MR KIRBY: I’ve seen the comments. I can’t confirm the veracity of that. QUESTION: You can’t – I’m not asking you to confirm it. I’m asking you what you think of it. MR KIRBY: Well, look, I mean — QUESTION: I mean, is this the kind of – is this the kind of language that you guys want coming from someone who says that he’s a partner for peace and wants to negotiate, and then he accuses the other side of trying to poison his people? MR KIRBY: We’ve been – without speaking to specific comments, as you know I’m not wont to do, we have been very clear – the Secretary’s been clear about our concerns about inflammatory rhetoric and incitement and — QUESTION: Well, this is before the EU parliament. What — MR KIRBY: Again, we want – here’s how I’d put it, Matt: We — QUESTION: You don’t think it’s — MR KIRBY: As we’ve said before, we — QUESTION: You don’t think it might be true, do you? MR KIRBY: I – again, I’ve seen nothing to indicate the truth of that. But we have long said what we want is for both sides to ratchet down not just the violence but the rhetoric, which can inflame some of the violence. And we just don’t find that sort of rhetoric helpful.
Oh, accusing Jews of poisoning the wells is not “helpful” and is an opportunity for both sides to ratchet down the rhetoric. Thanks for those strong words from Israel’s best friend.
The fact is that while diplomats routinely and forcefully condemn Israel for actions that their own states are far more guilty of, there is nothing but praise for Mahmoud Abbas as he spouts his lies and incitement (Unbelievably, Abbas even began the speech saying that he is against incitement.)
The double standards cannot be clearer. And while they would deny this up and down, it is hard to construe the lack of reaction to this as anything other than an attempt to paper it over because the lie of Abbas as a peacemaker is too strong to be overcome by pesky facts.
The Palestinian Authority has revived the medieval blood libel that Jews are poisoning the wells. The PA even named a nonexistent rabbi and rabbinical council as being responsible for this call to poison all Palestinian water sources.
Official PA TV reporter: “An Israeli human rights organization has exposed a religious ruling issued by Rabbi Shlomo Melamed (sic), Chairman of the Council of Settlement Rabbis (sic), that gave the settlers permission to poison the drinking water and the natural wells in the [Palestinian] villages and towns throughout the West Bank.” [Official PA TV News, June 20, 2016]
The PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs went so far as to warn that there will be thousands of Palestinian deaths, and condemned the international community for its silence.
“What is the international community waiting for to interfere; the death of thousands of Palestinians of thirst? To meet such incident with silence and ignore the war Israel is waging against Palestinians is a cause of shame for the international community.”
[PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs, June 19, 2016]
Palestinian Media Watch has researched different sources to demonstrate how this libel has evolved and expanded since its beginning just a week ago. The following is the anatomy of this Palestinian Authority libel:
Stage 1- The libel is seeded
This latest libel started recently when Yehuda Shaul, a leader of the extreme left-wing Israeli NGO named Breaking the Silence, told foreigners in a private lecture that Israelis – “settlers” – had “poisoned” all the water of a Palestinian town a number of years ago causing the Palestinians to leave:
“This village, actually, it’s new, but they came back because a few years ago, the settlers basically poisoned all the water systems of the village.”
[Israeli website NRG, June 14, 2016]
Stage 2 – PLO expands the NGO’s story, from a single event “years ago” to an broad current policy
The PLO’s expanded libel rewrote the NGO’s story about an alleged “poisoning” of one water system that supposedly happened a few years ago into the libel that Israelis are now, in 2016, poisoning all the water sources “throughout the West Bank.” In addition, they created another fictitious story that Israeli TV had reported on a religious ruling “a year ago” by an unknown Rabbi Shlomo Melamed “giving the settlers permission to poison the drinking water… throughout the West Bank.”
This is the PLO version of the libel:
“An Israeli human rights organization has exposed that Jewish settlers are working intently on poisoning the drinking water in the Palestinian towns and villages throughout the West Bank. Yehuda Shaul, founder of the organization Breaking the Silence… said that the goal of poisoning the water is to cause ‘the local Palestinians to leave their villages and towns, so that the settlers will be able to take control of their lands.’…
It should be noted that an investigative report that was broadcast on the Israeli [TV] Channel 10 around a year ago exposed that Rabbi Shlomo Melamed, chairman of what is known by the name ‘Council of Settlement Rabbis’ (Ed. note: no such rabbi or body exists), issued a religious ruling giving the settlers permission to poison the drinking water and the naturally flowing wells [of Palestinians] throughout the West Bank.”
[PLO’s National Bureau to Defend the Land and Resist Settlement website,
June 16, 2016]
Note: This story has been denied by both the supposed source of the story, the Breaking the Silence group, and by a Rabbi Zalmen Melamed – there is no Rabbi Shlomo Melamed. (See source below)
Stage 3 – Palestinian Authority Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls Israel’s “poisoning” the wells “a crime against humanity” and condemns the international community’s “silence,” and for not preventing the future “death of thousands of Palestinians”:
“This call by Rabbi Mlmad is considered a crime against humanity because it targets humans, animals, corps and all forms of life in the occupied Palestinian territory.
The ministry held the Israeli government full responsibility of the consequences of such calls. It demanded the arrest of the Rabbi for inciting murder and the enforcement of necessary procedures to protect Palestinians from individuals who might attempt to poison water sources.
What is the international community waiting for to interfere; the death of thousands of Palestinians of thirst? To meet such incident with silence and ignore the war Israel is waging against Palestinians is a cause of shame for the international community.”
[PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs, June 19, 2016]
Stage 4- Official PA TV News yesterday further expanded the libel, saying that it was not a single rabbi but an entire rabbinic council that recently made the decision. It further expanded the libel by explaining the Israeli motivation to poison the water: Kill Palestinians and force them to emigrate.
News report on official PA TV
Official PA TV newsreader: “The Council of Settlement Rabbis (sic) has called to poison the drinking water in all districts of the homeland [Palestine], in order to cause [Palestinian] residents to emigrate, or in order to kill them.”
Official PA TV reporter: “As part of the Israeli attempts to utilize religious sources of authority to achieve political goals, an Israeli human rights organization has exposed a religious ruling issued by Rabbi Shlomo Melamed (sic), Chairman of the Council of Settlement Rabbis (sic), that gave the settlers permission to poison the drinking water and the natural wells in the [Palestinian] villages and towns throughout the West Bank. This, with the goal of causing the [Palestinian] residents to leave their lands, enabling the settlers to take control of them.”
[Official PA TV News, June 20, 2016]
When the PA shouts its lies and libel so emphatically many around the world believe them. The Arab League was quick to accept the libel and join in condemning Israel:
“The Arab League strongly condemned the call of the chairman of the Council of Settlement Rabbis, Rabbi Shlomo Melamed, which gives the settlers permission to poison the drinking water that sustains the Palestinian towns and villages throughout the occupied West Bank.”
[WAFA (the official Palestinian news agency), June 20, 2016]
Finally, it should be noted that the Jerusalem Post has reported that no rabbi of the name “Rabbi Shlomo Melamed” exists, and even the left wing Israeli NGO upon which the PA is basing its story – has denied the poison wells story:
“The Jerusalem Post was unable to find evidence that either a Rabbi Shlomo Mlma or Mlmad, or the Council of Rabbis in West Bank settlements exist.
There is a Council of Rabbis in Judea and Samaria, led by Yishai Babad. There is a Rabbi Zalman Melamed of Beit El. Mlmad is similar to Melamed, and Zalman is Yiddish for Shlomo.
Rabbi Zalman Melamed told Gidon Shaviv, a senior research analyst for press watchdog CAMERA, “I did not say that and do not believe any rabbi would say something like that.” Melamed also called the report a blood libel.
In addition, Breaking the Silence’s spokesman said he did not know of any testimony about poisoning water.”
[The Jerusalem Post, June 20, 2016]
This analysis of the development and expansion of the PA libel shows how anxious the Palestinian Authority is to demonize and libel Israel in front of its people and the world. From one false accusation about a supposed poisoning of water “a few years ago,” the Palestinian Authority in just a week, without any information or basis, is now accusing Israel of planning to murder thousands of Palestinians by poisoning wells throughout the Palestinian Authority. The PA even invented a rabbi and a rabbinical council to blame for the poisoning. And to top it off they are even condemning the international community for not stopping Israel from its planned mass murder.
Finally, it should also be noted that Israelis and Palestinians share many of the same water sources.
A media watchdog blasted a report in The Independent that falsely accused Israel of cutting off drinking water to Palestinians in the West Bank during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
The report, written by freelancer Peter Yeung and published Wednesday, alleged that tens of thousands of Palestinians were being denied water resources “at a time when temperatures can exceed 35C.”
UK Media Watch, a media monitoring organization, consequently investigated the charges and learned from Israel’s national water utility, Mekorot, that it has reduced allocations of water to both Israeli and Palestinian communities due to increased demand in the summer and declining water levels in the West Bank’s mountain aquifer. “However, to make up for this shortage and, most importantly, to address the changing water needs of Palestinian Muslims during the holiday of Ramadan, Israel INCREASED the amount of available water to the Hebron and Bethlehem communities, and INCREASED the amount of available water during the night, the time when religious Muslims will need it the most,” UK Media Watch wrote.
According to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Unit (COGAT), the Israeli government body that works with authorities in the West Bank, a burst pipeline temporarily disrupted the water supply, but the pipeline has since been repaired.
At the very end of his article, Yeung quoted a representative of COGAT who said: “Several hours ago, COGAT’s Civil Administration team have repaired a burst pipe line, which disrupted the water supply to the villages of Marda, Biddya, Jamma’in, Salfit and Tapuach. The water flow has been regulated and is currently up and running.”
“Given the failure to develop infrastructures as a result of the unwillingness on behalf of the Palestinians to convene the Joint Water Committee (JWC), there are problems in the water supply,” COGAT added.
Yeung further claimed that “Israel has limited the water available to Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since its forces occupied the territories” in 1967, repeating a charge discredited by Akiva Bigman in the Myth of the Thirsty Palestinian, which was published in the April 2014 issue of The Tower Magazine.
At the end of Jordanian rule in 1967, the West Bank Palestinians received a relatively low 65 million cubic meters of water per year.
Whatever the depredations of the Israeli occupation may have been, there is no doubt that they did not apply to the issue of water supplies. Within five years of the Israeli takeover in 1967, the water supply grew by 50 percent; and the IDF Civilian Administration, which rules over the territory, established a pumping system that brought water directly to city centers, where residents could fill water containers for personal use. …
In terms of per capita consumption, there has also been substantial improvement. In 1967, per capita consumption stood at 93,000 liters per year. In 2006, it stood at 129,000 liters per year, close to the average in Israel proper—170,000 liters per year.
Bigman also documented the history behind the false charge that Israel deliberately deprives Palestinians of drinking water:
What about unused water sources? The majority of this is located in the eastern aquifer, which flows beneath the Jordan Valley. It contains approximately 70 million cubic meters of water a year that is left unused. The rights to this water were granted to the Palestinians under the Oslo Accords. Unfortunately, the Palestinians have yet to exercise these rights to any significant degree, and the failure do so is entirely their own. For example, over 40 potential drilling sites in the Hebron area were identified and approved by the Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee; but in the two decades since then, drilling has taken place in only three places, and this is in spite of substantial funding provided to the PA by donor nations. This is both tragic and ironic, because undertaking these drilling projects could entirely solve the area’s current water issues; instead, the Palestinians have chosen to both blame Israel for their water problems and drill into the Western aquifer, which provides water to Israel.
In regard to waste and optimal use of water sources, it is also clear that the Palestinians are very far from fulfilling the most basic requirements of international law. Because the PA does not properly maintain its water system, it suffers from a 33 percent rate of water loss, mostly due to leakage; in contrast to an 11 percent loss from the Israeli system. In addition, a large percentage of Palestinian agriculture uses surface irrigation, a primitive and wasteful technology profoundly unsuited to the region’s limited water sources. The use of more efficient methods, such as drip or sprinkler irrigation, as well as better water purification and distribution, would both conserve resources and free up a much larger amount of fresh water for home use—according to the Israeli Water Authority, as much as 10 million cubic meters.
To the extent that a viable water supply infrastructure exists in the West Bank, it is because Israel built and maintained it. While this infrastructure was certainly constructed, in part, to service Israeli communities, its benefits have not been denied to the Palestinians, and no one familiar with the statistics involved can claim otherwise without being patently dishonest.
That Israel is so consistently blamed for this problem is especially problematic because it makes it less likely that the Palestinians will deal with it themselves. As shown above, the Palestinians have the ability to both live up to their obligations under international law and solve their existing water problems in doing so. The money, technology, and knowledge they need all exist and are available to them from both foreign and Israeli sources. That the Palestinians have either chosen not to avail themselves of such aid or cannot do so effectively due to internal problems is tragic, but it is not the fault of the State of Israel.
An official Israeli government report declared Sunday that Mohammed al-Dura, the 12-year-old boy whose picture convinced the entire world that the IDF had killed him, not only did not die but also may never have been shot.
Now, 13 years after the supposed killing that incited the senseless murders of Israelis as well as Jews throughout the world, the Israel government report categorically concluded that the France 2 report was much more of a hoax than thought several years ago.
“Contrary to the claim that the boy was dead, the committee’s review of the raw footage indicates that at the end of the video – the part that was not broadcast – the boy appears to be alive,” according to the report by the Ministry of International Affairs and Strategy.
“The probe has found that there is no evidence to support the claims that the father, Jamal, or the boy Mohammed, were shot. Furthermore, the video does not show Jamal being seriously wounded. On the other hand, many signs indicate that the two were never hit by the bullets.”
The panel was comprised of officials from the Defense and Foreign ministries, experts from outside the government and the police, and it was headed by Yossi Kuperwasser, former director general of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs.
The revelation puts another nail in the coffin of the “Al Dura news report” that was challenged by a French Jew, Philippe Karsenty, who charged that France 2 journalist Charles Enderlin created a media lie by broadcasting edited footage that alleged that the IDF killed the boy.
An emotionally wrenching photo that was seen around the world shows Mohammed supposedly crying out as he and his father took cover during a gun battle between the IDF and Palestinian Authority terrorists at the beginning of what has been termed the Second Intifada, also known as the Oslo War, in 2000.
The alleged shooting of Mohammed Al Dura was filmed by Talal Abu Rahma, a Palestinian Authority photographer who free-lanced for France2. The film lasts for 55 seconds and shows the boy screaming before the sound of gunfire, followed by a scene of the boy apparently dead over his father’s legs.
Enderlin told viewers the boy was killed and had been the “target of fire from the Israeli positions.” The gunfight occurred on the second day of the Oslo War and spread venom throughout the Arab world, inciting terrorist against Israel.
To make matters worse, the IDF apologized within 24 hours even though the military had not verified the alleged shooting.
The timing of Sunday’s government report is astounding because a French court is to rule later this week on a libel suit filed by Enderlin against Karsenty, who previously was backed by a lower French court, which stated that Karsenty presented a “coherent mass of evidence” and that the Palestinian Authority cameraman for France 2 was not “perfectly credible.”
Karsenty’s investigation revealed that France 2 had edited the film and it was not clear whether the boy died from Israeli or Palestinian Authority fire. At the same time, media watchdogs began documenting “Pallywood” productions that the Palestinian Authority staged for journalists, who gobbled up faked scenes of supposedly wounded Arab victims of IDF gunfire who magically were later seen walking around freely after having been shoved into ambulances.
From a further perspective, the Israeli report punctures another Big Lie that has haunted Israel ever since the Six-Day War in 1967 way.
A small sample of other lies includes:
— Israel occupied Judea and Samaria, most of which were in fact taken over by Jordan without any international authorization;
— Children of Arabs who were chased out of Israel or who fled Israel are ”refugees,” a second generation status that the United Nations does not grant to anyone in the world except Arabs who claim Israel as their home;
— Israel aggressively attacked Lebanese “guerillas” who pulverized northern residents before the “Peace for the Galilee campaign, now known as the First Lebanese War, in which Israel established a security zone in southern Lebanon to defend the north;
— Israel committee war crimes for years, especially during the Operation Cast Lead counterterrorist campaign in the winter of 2008-2009. The United Nations Goldstone report claimed Israel for dozens of war crimes but the report’s author, Judge Richard Goldstone, later admitted that had he known then what he knows now, he would have reached different conclusions;
–Israel built an “Apartheid’ Wall that creates a separation between Jews and Arabs. In fact, most of the “wall” that runs for more than 200 miles is a fence, which has helped reduce the number of suicide terrorist attacks against to near zero. The fence also does not “keep out” Arabs because Israel operates checkpoints at numerous gates to make sure that Arabs who are not terrorists can travel freely into the rest of Israel; and
— Israel “degrades” Palestinian Authority Arabs at checkpoints, even though it uses the same search methods that the United States and other Western countries use at airports and borders.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said after the new report was released that the France 2 film in 2000 “was an example of the deceitful delegitimization that we are constantly subject to. There is only one way to battle lies – by telling the truth.”
The supposed killing of the boy has been cited as the catalyst for the grizzly and barbaric lynching IDF reservists the following month in Ramallah, where they had arrived by mistake. The “Al Dura incident” also was said to have incited the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl as well as Osama bin Laden.
The question remains whether Mohammed al Dura was ever wounded, or if he even was a real person.
There is a less of a question concerning the credibility of international coverage of Israel.
Day by day, reports covering the “peace process” and the “Palestinian struggle” show fatigue in continuing to report Arab claims that have become so ludicrous that they simply are ignored.
Without media support, and without media incitement, the Palestinian Authority is increasingly being left with an audience of one hand clapping.
One other question arises: Can France 2 can be accused of inciting war crimes against Israel?
Prior to the launch of the new lines Israeli buses did not stop in towns controlled by the P.A., and Palestinians were dependent on transportation services by “pirate” (Arab) companies. (Alternately they could travel to an Israeli settlement, such as Ariel, and take a bus from there to Israeli cities across the green line).
The Israeli government will on Monday begin operating a “Palestinians-only” bus service to ferry Palestinian workers from the West Bank to Israel, encouraging them to use it instead of travelling with Israeli settlers on a similar route.
However, at no point does Urquhart attempt to buttress this sensational claim, nor indicate the source of the (“Palestinians only”) quote.
In fact, he then notes the following:
Officially anyone can use them, but the ministry of transport said that the new lines are meant to improve services for Palestinians.
In a statement to the Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, the ministry said: “The new lines are not separate lines for Palestinians but rather two designated lines meant to improve the services offered to Palestinian workers who enter Israel through Eyal Crossing.
As Lori Lowenthal Marcus of the Jewish Press pointed out, the “restrictions” pertain to “only” stopping at Palestinian towns in the territories, where Jews don’t live.
Information on the new services, which are operated by the company Afikim, have reportedly only been advertised in Arabic and distributed only in Palestinian areas of the West Bank.
However, if the goal of the new bus line is to improve service for Palestinians living in the West Bank but working in Israel, it would certainly make sense to advertise the lines in Palestinian towns, and only in Arabic.
Palestinians used to use Palestinian minibuses and taxis to travel into Israel but Israel has increased the number of permits it gives to Palestinians which has led to more mixing on shared routes.
Indeed, Palestinians were dependent upon transportation services by unauthorized Arab companies which charged far more than the new Israeli lines do, and Urquhart, further in his report, quotes the Transportation Ministry official making a similar point.
For example, the public fare for Palestinians traveling to Raanana is reportedly 5.1 shekels (roughly $1.35), and to Tel Aviv will cost 10.6 shekels ($2.85). This is compared to roughly 40 shekels ($10.75) that passengers have been charged by the private transportation services.
Additionally, Transportation and Road Safety Minister Yisrael Katz was quoted in Israel HaYom as explaining that “Palestinians were permitted to use any public bus line they wished, including the ones used by settlers.”
Lowenthal Marcus makes the additional point:
The new bus lines are not, as the misleading headlines suggest, only for Arab Palestinians, the restriction they have is that they only stop at Arab towns in the territories, where – few would disagree – Jews with or without special identification would not dare go for fear – a legitimate one – of physical violence. The fact remains that any Israeli citizens, Jewish, Christian or Zoroastrians, who live in the “Jewish” towns, were able to and did use the pre-existing bus lines.
As Seth Frantzman observed in the Jerusalem Post today:
The website of the bus company, Ofakim, shows that the No. 211 bus route begins near Kalkilya and travels to Tel Aviv with stops in Petah Tikvah, Bnei Brak and elsewhere. It doesn’t indicate that it is a “Palestinian only” bus or that Jews may not ride it. Ofakim claimed “We are not allowed to refuse service and we will not order anyone to get off the bus.”
Frantzman also argued that “nothing obvious prevents Arabs from commuting to a bus stop near a large Jewish community, to take a bus serving Ariel for instance.” He added that “there is no ‘segregation,’ no ‘separate but equal.’ No one is ‘sitting at the back.’”
Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson sued a Wall Street Journal reporter for libel for calling him “foul-mouthed.”
The lawsuit filed last Friday seeks “damages, including aggravated, exemplary and special damages,” for a December article co-written by Kate O’Keeffe. Only O’Keefe is named in the suit, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
“We will vigorously defend Ms. O’Keeffe in this lawsuit,” said a Wall Street Journal spokeswoman, declining to comment further.
Last August, Adelson sued the National Jewish Democratic Council for defamation after the organization quoted news reports alleging that he had approved of prostitution at his properties in Macau, China. The suit has not been settled.