Media accusations of blood libels against Abbas and Sanders amplify a Jewish
tribal racist fantasy
Yakov Hirsch, MondoWeiss, Jun 27 2016
The goal of every speech by PA Pres Abbas to an international audience is to push his cause. That was the case with his speech to the European Parliament last week. Let us establish some facts about that speech:
He said Israel was acting above international law and by settling the West Bank and had undermined the two state solution; He called on the west to support a two-state solution on the ’67 lines; He said Israel was exporting violence to the occupied West Bank and cited the killings of the Dawabshe family, of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, and the execution of Palestinians accused of attacks; He described Gaza as an open-air prison and asked why international law did not apply to Israel’s isolation of the strip; He brought up the “fascism” charges leveled at Netanyahu by Barak and Ya’alon, maybe hoping they would get the attention they deserved in places like the NYT, which has largely ignored the story till now. He called on Europe to appoint an incitement arbitration committee to call out incitement on both sides. And in that EXACT context he lamented the incitement by West Bank rabbis calling for poisoning the water of Palestinians living under occupation and said that this was an example of incitement and a provocation and a call to violence.
That last statement is the only thing we have seen in the Pindosi press in the coverage of Abbas’s speech. The NYT’s Diaa Hadid set the tone in an article headlined Mahmoud Abbas Claims Rabbis Urged Israel to Poison Palestinians’ Water. Abbas uttered an “anti-semitic trope,” says the WaPo’s Ruth Eglash. AFP also made hay of the Palestinian president’s statement, writing:
Israel accused the Palestinian president of libelling the Jewish people after he charged Thursday that rabbis had called for Palestinian wells to be poisoned. The PMO said in a statement: “Abu Mazen showed his true face in Brussels. Someone who refuses to meet Pres Rivlin … and spreads a blood libel in the European parliament, falsely claiming that his hand is extended in peace.
On Friday night, Abbas issued a statement saying that it has now become evident that statements reported by various Arab media outlets last week, by a rabbi on poisoning Palestinian water, were “baseless.” The WaPo headline was “Abbas apologizes for anti-semitic comments.” The statement released in English stated:
Palestine is the cradle of the three monotheistic faiths. We stand strongly against any attack on any religion. Pres Abbas has affirmed that he didn’t intend to do harm to Judaism or to offend Jewish people around the world.
Netanyahu’s response to the apology upped the ante, saying that Abbas is opposed to peace:
Netanyahu said at Sunday’s
cabinetfan club meeting, referring to Abbas: “Abu Mazen again proved that he isn’t interested in direct negotiations with Israel, and worse than that, he is spreading despicable lies about Israel and Judaism. While he was quick to issue a feeble, half-hearted apology, what he said is compatible with the things he’s said at other opportunities, including at the UN, and people can conclude from this who wishes to advance peace and who doesn’t.
At this point, any half-serious journalist must ask one simple question about this story: Was Abbas’s statement innocent or malicious? Did Abbas think that the statement about the rabbis’ was true and so he was expressing genuine outrage to the European Parliament? Or, as reported, did he intend to repeat a 700-year-old blood libel because he is anti-Semitic? The answer is obvious. Abbas did not know that the the poisoning water story was debunked. Think about what it would mean in real life if Abbas was intentionally attempting to play on ancient anti-Semitic stereotypes here. Abbas would have to be thinking as he went to Brussels, “Nothing seems to be working with this European Parliament audience.” And then suddenly, out of the blue, a Jew hatred epiphany: To get the support of the Christians in the room he needed to remind them of the stories of Jews poisoning Christian water! That would shake them out of their apathy over what was happening to the Palestinian people!
The absurdity of the claim is borne out by the overwhelming response to Abbas’s misstatement. Does anyone think that he really wanted his many points about the occupation to a European audience to be overshadowed by the craziness that has descended on his water comments? Did he really intend for Bibi to get to issue a denunciation of his comments, and for the NYT to run not one but two stories about the mistake? Of course not! No-one was more thrilled by Abbas’s “incitement” than Bibi, because if you have not noticed, his only strategic vision is to win the news cycle, and in this case he won the cycle for two or three days’ running. Did Abbas really mean for all that to happen when he was giving a serious speech to European diplomats? No, he is not that self-destructive. He has not led a conciliatory life into his 80s just so he could throw around slurs against Jews. The only logical interpretation of Abbas’s statement is that it was an innocent mistake. For if Abbas had known it was a bad story, he could have easily predicted the chain reaction to his “anti-Semitism.” Netanyahu and his propagandists’ hasbara campaigns against the Palestinians are no secret. Neither is the repeating message that the Palestinian national movement and its supporters are driven by Jew hatred, and that resistance to occupation by Palestinians and their supporters, whether violent or not, is a continuation of an ancient hatred of Jews which is the impetus of all opponents of Israel. This is the narrative Israeli leaders have been selling. Bibi the old furniture salesman and his apostles here such as Jeffrey Goldberg will lie and cheat to make that sale. So we are supposed to believe that Abbas said to himself: Why don’t I give you guys some gift-wrapped hasbara? Remembering all of Jeffrey Goldberg’s years of hard work tainting the Palestinians and their supporters with the “anti-Semitism” label, Abbas thought to himself, Why not give Goldberg a good old-fashioned “Jews poisoning water” blood libel to work with! And work with it, he did:
Is it in Abbas’s interest that
Jewish tribal racist halfwits such as Yair Rosenberg are now spreading the poison that Abbas is anti-Semitic? How many Jews and others are reading the malarkey in the NYT and other mainstream outlets and thinking, How can Israel trust Abbas? How many of them have even read Abbas’s apology? If they did, would they realize he is not the inciter here? Would they see that it’s obvious he wants Jews on his side of the struggle? Yet how can he compete with the discourse poisoners? On any other issue in the world, the NYT knows the difference between something intentional and unintentional, and knows that it matters if the harm was intended. Does it not interest the NYT that the message has been unambiguous from Israeli intelligence officials as long as anyone can remember, that Abbas does not incite? Does the NYT not understand that Abbas doesn’t need a “blood libel” to condemn Israel? That Abbas does not want for occupation horror stories? That the reality of the occupation is bad enough?
Bernie Sanders’s misstatement of deaths in Gaza as 10,000, an off-the-cuff estimate given to the Daily News, even as he looked around to reporters and asked, “Help me out here, because I don’t remember the figures. Does that sound right?” was also turned by opportunistic
Israel supporters Zionazis into nothing less than a blood libel, and the media blew up an innocent statement into endless headlines. And now the NYT has gotten two big stories in a row out of Abbas’s alleged anti-Semitism. So we come to the real problem: the crazed response to Abbas’s misstatement is a tribal Jewish one: “OMG, there the gentiles go again! How can he say these things about us?” As if Abbas is another evil goy who just can’t wait to spout bigotry. To believe that is to believe that the whole world thinks like ethnocentric Jews: that Abbas when complaining about the crazy settler rabbis is making connections to medieval European Jewish history in his head. Then as soon as the charge of anti-Semitism is made, there can be one legitimate response of our media, outrage, because they have adopted the Jewish tribal racist narrative put out by Bibi and his propagandist disciples, that all the goyim have always hated the Jews and they always will. So when Abbas stumbles in Brussels, there’s nothing innocent about it. That is the real crime here. That is the lie. That is the manipulation. That a Palestinian leader having spent his life compromising on Palestinian rights is somehow going to wait till he’s in Europe in front of non-Jewish leaders to let loose with his hatred of Jews. Indeed, that the whole world just can’t wait to come out with the 700-year-old blood libels against the Jews. When the world really doesn’t even know about that 700-year-old story. When no one in that European audience was thinking, “there go the Jews again, poisoning the water supply.” That is just a fantasy. It has nothing to do with the real world. And the NYT has shown itself to be a proud member of this Jewish tribal racist fantasy world. This is a serious failing, because the newspaper’s decisions about how to report these stories makes peace more or less possible. The NYT should have had the integrity to treat Abbas’s misstatement as an innocent error: it should have left it till the end of the story. It should have told us the real news. Instead it did even worse than that. It tried to make a case against Abbas. The last paragraph of Hadid’s article reads:
In October, he erroneously accused Israeli forces of killing a 13-year-old Palestinian boy who had taken part in the stabbings of two Israelis. The boy had actually been wounded and later recovered.
You cannot read this paragraph any other way than:
This is not the first time Abbas has made stuff up about the Jews.
Meanwhile the reality of Israel and Palestine is just what Abbas actually described in his speech: creeping fascism in Israel and violence in the OPT is the real news. The same day as Abbas was strung up in the world press for a misstatement, IIF troops opened fire on a Palestinian vehicle in the OPT because they suspected that the car was carrying boys who had thrown stones, and as a result killed a 15-year-old boy travelling with his family from an outing, and later admitted they had done so “by mistake.” IIF troops indiscriminately killing a boy with his life in front of him, is the reality in Isro-Pal today, but it will not be the headline in the NYT, so long as an accidental misstatement that remind
ethnocentric racist fanatics about long-forgotten “anti-Semitic canards” is more “real” to editors in New York than another dead Palestinian kid child.