A little more than a day after President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority accused rabbis in Israel of calling for their government to poison the water used by Palestinians, he retracted the allegation in a statement on Saturday, saying it had become “evident” that it was “baseless.”
Mr. Abbas made the unsubstantiated allegation during an address to the European Parliament on Thursday. The remarks echoed anti-Semitic claims that led to the mass killings of European Jews in medieval times.
The Palestine Liberation Organization had initially published the allegation on a website run by one of its offices, and it spread through some regional news media outlets.
Mr. Abbas’s retraction was sent to reporters early Saturday morning, issued by the P.L.O., of which Mr. Abbas is the chairman. It said that Mr. Abbas “rejected all claims that accuse him and the Palestinian people of offending the Jewish religion.” It added that he “also condemned all accusations of anti-Semitism.”
“After it has become evident that the alleged statements by a rabbi on poisoning Palestinian wells, which were reported by various media outlets, are baseless, President Mahmoud Abbas has affirmed that he didn’t intend to do harm to Judaism or to offend Jewish people around the world,” the statement continued.
It's very nice that Abbas has admitted this, after he felt the pressure from the news media.
But what about the other lies Abbas made in this speech alone?
- -He said that Israel has arrested a million Palestinians since 1967, a clear lie that gets bigger every year.
- -He said that Israeli settlers were making Palestinian lives miserable, when in fact far more settlers have been killed by Palestinians than vice versa in the past year.
- -He implied that Israeli settlements were ever-expanding, when in fact they have added practically no areas in over two decades.
- -He said that his people have been in the area for thousands of years, when in fact every major clan can be traced back to other areas of the Middle East.
- -He called all of the areas under his control "a big prison" while he himself had no problem going to Brussels, and over 100,000 Palestinians cross the Green Line every day.
- -He claimed that women were equal to men under Palestinian law when in fact the penalty for "honor killings" of women is still lighter than for murdering a man.
- -He said he doesn't want a religious war when he in fact incited the knife attacks last year by saying that Al Aqsa must be protected from Jews visiting by all means.
- -He claimed to want peace and to be against terror while the political party he heads praises terrorism explicitly and credits him for inspiring the terror spree. Abbas himself also praises terrorists, even today.
And these were only some of the lies Abbas said to the EU Parliament. We are not even mentioning the litany of lies he has said in the past.
This incident shows an important fact: Abbas can be shamed. Yet reporters wouldn't have asked him for comment if Israel hadn't slammed that one specific egregious lie.
The most important part of the political reporter's toolbox is to point out contradictions and lies by major world figures. Yet this is the exception that proves the rule - reporters are reluctant to ask Abbas about all of the other inconsistencies and outright lies that he has said over the years.
The refusal to ask hard questions shows the bias that journalists have. Deep down, they want to see a peace deal, and they believe that exposing Abbas' lies will make that deal more difficult. Only Israel must be pressured, in their minds. So Abbas can lie with impunity until Israel makes the lies into a story that cannot be ignored.
And that is why Abbas feels he can get away with it.
We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.