Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is now serving the twelfth year of his four-year term. He is an absurd and contemptible figure. In a perfectly timed companion to the Brexit referendum, Abbas had the honor of addressing the European Parliament this past Thursday. Abbas drew a standing ovation for his EU speech.
In the course of his remarks Abbas accused (mythical) Israeli rabbis of “demanding” that the Israeli government poison Palestinian water. Yair Rosenberg took up Abbas’s remarks at Tablet.
Abbas’s assertion was the kind of anti-Semitic lie in which he and his colleagues specialize, yet State Department spokesman John Kirby could not bring himself to denounce Abbas’s accusation Thursday. “I’ve seen the comments,” Kirby said: “I can’t confirm the veracity of that” (italics added). Kirby had an open mind on the possibility that rabbis had called for the poisoning of the Palestinians.
As if that weren’t enough, Kirby made the usual idiotic call for evenhandedness, calling on “both sides” to mind their manners. “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,” he said. “We just don’t find that sort of rhetoric helpful.”
Diaa Hadid follows up on the story in today’s New York Times. She reports that the PLO retracted the accusation early this morning. The retraction, if that is is what is, reads: ““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.”
Was the PLO statement published in Arabic in addition to English? I don’t know.
Hadid adds this uncharacteristically quizzical note to her report (italics added): “It was not immediately clear why Mr. Abbas repeated the allegation on Thursday, days after it was widely debunked. Neither the rabbi who supposedly made the claim, nor the organization quoted in the original P.L.O. article, appear to exist.”