TEL AVIV – A Belgian Jewish newspaper is demanding that European leaders condemn Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for spreading the libel that rabbis in Israel urged Jews to poison Palestinian water, JTA reported.
In his June 23 speech in front of the European Parliament in Brussels, which earned Abbas a standing ovation, he said: “Just a week ago, some rabbis rose up in Israel and explicitly announced and demanded of their government that it poison the water in order to kill the Palestinians.”
The Palestinian Authority later retracted the libel, but it nonetheless sparked outrage in Israel – not least because of its similarity to medieval blood libels against Jews that resulted in lethal pogroms.
Michael Freilich, editor-in-chief of the Joods Actueel monthly, authored an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in which he noted that both European Parliament President Martin Schulz and the EU coordinator for the fight against anti-Semitism, Katharina von Schnurbein, did not object to Abbas’ outright lie during or after the speech.
Furthermore, Freilich wrote, “Martin Schulz even published a tweet calling Abbas’ speech ‘inspiring.’”
Apparently, Freilich decided to petition Merkel after Schulz’s office told the paper: “The content of the address is a total responsibility of the state leaders and the European Parliament is not in a position to censure or to control it.”
Freilich’s letter assures Merkel that Belgian Jews seek neither control nor censorship, but they do require an “unambiguous rejection of this anti-Jewish incitement in the heart of Europe.”
While Merkel’s office confirmed its receipt of the letter, but it would not issue an official reply, according to Freilich. An online petition demanding action on Merkel’s part was subsequently set up, the report said.