Beliefs Faith Institutions News Politics Revelations

Palestinian leader’s accusation against rabbis likened to blood libel

European Council President Donald Tusk welcomes Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, at right, ahead of a meeting in Brussels, Belgium, June 23, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
European Council President Donald Tusk welcomes Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, at right, ahead of a meeting in Brussels, Belgium, June 23, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

European Council President Donald Tusk welcomes Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, at right, ahead of a meeting in Brussels, Belgium, June 23, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

(RNS) During a speech applauded by the European Parliament, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made the unsubstantiated claim that rabbis had advised Israeli leaders to poison Palestinian water, a remark Jewish leaders worldwide likened to the persistent anti-Semitic myth of the blood libel.

“Just a week ago, a week, a group of rabbis in Israel announced, in a clear announcement, demanding their government, to poison, to poison, the water of the Palestinians,” Abbas said to the Parliament in Brussels Thursday (June 23).

“Is this not incitement? Is this not clear incitement, to the mass murder of the Palestinian people?” Abbas said.

Abbas made the remark after he called for the revival of a committee to investigate calls to incitement and violence among both Israelis and Palestinians.

But the accusation against Israeli rabbis was considered incitement itself by Jewish leaders.

“Unfortunately, conspiratorial incitement by the Palestinian Authority is not new,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, a U.S.-based Jewish civil rights group. “His charges of an Israeli effort to poison Palestinian water, and claims of Israel serving as the root of terrorism worldwide, are particularly disturbing and significant.”

During the speech Abbas also said that if Israel were to leave land it has occupied since the 1967 war with neighboring states, terror would cease the world over.

“Once the occupation ends, terrorism will disappear, there will be no more terrorism in the Middle East, or anywhere else in the world,” Abbas said.

Abbas’ remarks, which Israeli officials also derided as baseless and incendiary, recall the the canard of the blood libel, a centuries-old myth that Jews kill Christian children and use their blood to make matzo, the unleavened bread that Jews eat during Passover.

Jews historically have also been accused of other conspiracies to hurt non-Jews, including the poisoning of wells.

In territories controlled by Israel now, Palestinians are suffering a water shortage.


READ: The blood libel and the synagogue massacre


“It is unconscionable that a foreign leader proudly states a blood libel in the European Parliament and he receives a standing ovation,” Moshe Kantor, the president of the European Jewish Congress, said in a statement.

The Israeli government said Abbas repeated an anti-Semitic blood libel in his speech. No news organization that looked into the accusation was able to substantiate the claim.

About the author

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe has been a national reporter for RNS since 2011. Previously she covered government and politics as a daily reporter at the Charlotte Observer and The State (Columbia, S.C.)

3 Comments

Click here to post a comment

  • Paint the people you hate as inhuman monsters intent on destroying you. That way, when you destroy them first, you can claim it was justified.

  • Apart from the absurdity of the charge; no, the surrender of the land would not bring an end to global terrorism. There are terrorists of many stripes and shades (no racial pun intended, one has to be very careful not to be misconstrued), eliminate one “cause” and they will merely find another pretext. Hate and fury, no matter the putative underlying basis, are self replicating to the nth degree.

ADVERTISEMENTs