This week, an anti-Semitic claim was made on an international stage. It was reminiscent of a play from many years ago, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, which was about the Salem witch trials. In the play, one individual tells a lie, blaming innocent people for a crime that never happened.
The latest lie took place on a world stage, rather than in a show yet accused Jews of poisoning wells. Of course, there were those who believed Jews were baking Passover matzah with the blood of Christian children. Need a scapegoat because a child went missing? It must have been those Jews. Never mind that it is forbidden by Jewish law to eat blood, let alone that of a human; blood libels were never meant to be rational.
Blood libels have been around for a long time and eventually morphed into water libels. When the Black Death hit Europe in the 14th century, the Jews were blamed. The rationale was that the Jews were affected less, thus they must have been poisoning wells and collecting water elsewhere. 510 Jewish communities were massacred between 1348 and 1350. On February 14, 1349, 900 Jews were burned alive in Strasbourg as a preventive measure; the plague had not even arrived there yet. Yet, the main cause of the Black Death’s sweep of Europe was most likely poor hygiene, assisted by fleas and rats.
Just last week, in front of the European Parliament, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, claimed that Israeli rabbis had instructed Jewish residents to poison Palestinian water supplies.
How did this centuries old anti-Semitic claim emerge now from Abbas at a very public forum? That would be the work of the “human rights organization” Breaking the Silence (BTS), a grantee of the extremist American Jewish organization, the New Israel Fund (NIF).
BTS is best known for spreading false allegations of misdoings within the Israel Defense Forces. It appears that they have moved on to spreading blood libels against Jews.
On June 14, 2016, Yehuda Shaul, a co-founder of BTS, was allegedly filmed telling a group of tourists that Israeli settlers had poisoned the water system of a Palestinian village a few years ago, causing its residents to be displaced. In the business of anti-Semitism, that was all that was needed for the story to spread quickly.
On June 16, the PLO expanded the rumor, claiming that a Rabbi Shlomo Melamed, chairman of the Council of Settlement Rabbis, had given permission to settlers to poison the wells in Palestinian neighborhoods across the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority (PA) followed on June 20, claiming on television that the Council of Settlement Rabbis was trying to either scare away or kill Palestinians by poisoning their drinking water. The Arab League condemned the supposed act – and then of course, Abbas took to the international stage with it. What all of these alleged human rights agents forgot to mention is that Rabbi Shlomo Melamed and the Council of Settlement Rabbis do not exist.
Just a few days later, the New Israel Fund sent out a plea urging donors to support BTS because they are being attacked by the Israeli government and were barred from receiving an award from Ben Gurion University. As John Proctor asks in The Crucible “Is the accuser always holy now?” Breaking The Silence does not deserve awards, let alone any funding.