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Ben-Dror Yemini
A current of lies
Op-ed: When one of the heads of Breaking the Silence commits blood libel by saying that Jews poisoned a West Bank village well, the lies which flow out as a result flow into a pool of international slander against the Jewish State.

One of the heads of Breaking the Silence, Yehuda Shaul said regarding a village in the West Bank—in perfect English—that "it's interesting that they've (the residents) returned, because a few years ago, the settlers poisoned the entire village's water."

 

 

I went to Breaking the Silence to try to understand what they meant. They referred me to me an alleged incident that occurred in 2004 wherein several Palestinians lodged a complaint over chicken carcasses thrown into a well.

 

They wrote about this on the Breaking the Silence website, and they put a short video on their Facebook page showing Shaul attributing the events to the work of hooligans. The fact that there are these hooligans who may or may not have thrown chicken carcasses into the well doesn't make Shaul's words true.

 

He talked about "the poisoning of the entire water supply." This never happened. He talked about the "entire village being evacuated for a period of several years. This also never happened.

 

Jews poisoning wells is a well-known anti-Semitic trope. (Photo: Shuttershock)
Jews poisoning wells is a well-known anti-Semitic trope. (Photo: Shuttershock)

 

When we take everything that Shaul has said, and combine them with the words of Breaking the Silence activist Avner Gavriyahu—an activist who claims that the IDF shoots at innocent Palestinians as if they are playing a videogame—the result isn't criticism, but demonization.

 

With this cheap propaganda, people all over the world will come to the conclusion that Israel treats the Palestinians in the same way that the Nazis treated the Jews. This isn't how to bring about the end of the occupation. This is not how to promote mutual understanding and reconciliation between Jews and Palestinians. This is how you increase hostility and hatred. This is how you push peace farther away.

 

The Independent, Al Jazeera, and other media outlets published a story saying that "Israel is cutting off water to Palestinians during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan." This is false information. There was no stoppage of water in the West Bank.

 

Al Jazeera published another article with a response from the West Bank Civil Administration. Meanwhile, the leftist British newspaper insisted in the story that they got the information from Palestinian sources and didn’t find it necessary to fix what they wrote.

 

The Palestinians took the story a step further this week, saying, "Rabbi Shlomo Melamed, the head of the West Bank Rabbinical Council, gave the settlers permission to poison Palestinian drinking water."

 

There is no rabbi with that name who heads the West Bank Rabbinical Council. In fact, the West Bank Rabbinical Council doesn't exist at all.

 

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) exposed this concentric circle of lies; the first circle consists of the lies being spewed by Yehuda Shaul regarding the "poisoning of the wells" in one village.

 

The second circle was an official Palestinian Foreign Ministry communiqué regarding the "poisoning of wells throughout the West Bank," together with Rabbi Melamed and his council, and claiming that the story was covered on Israeli channel 10.The message included a warning over the expected deaths of thousands of Palestinians, and a condemnation of the silence in the international community on the issue.

 

The third circle was an official communiqué coming from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which combined what Shaul was saying and the alleged rabbis of the alleged rabbinical council which allegedly support poisoning Palestinian wells.

 

If we actually examine the water infrastructure in the West Bank, we see that there has been an infrastructure revolution since 1967.

 

The West Bank water supply was never shut off (Photo: Shutterstock)
The West Bank water supply was never shut off (Photo: Shutterstock)

 

When Israel first took the West Bank, only four out of 700 towns had running water. By 2004, that number had grown to 643 out of a total of 708 towns with running water in the entirety of the West Bank. And while the water needs of the Jewish areas are greater than those of the Palestinian villages, Israel doesn't need to use water resources such as aquifers as much, while the Palestinians do. The civil administration has caused an incredible revolution for the benefit of the residents there.

 

There's no need to ask the representatives from Breaking the Silence to tell the whole story—that goes against their agenda. But there's no reason to create a falsehood. There's no reason to take one Jew who cheats and robs, and then turn all Jews into cheaters and robbers.

 

These methods are distasteful when racists do it against Muslims, and they're distasteful when they're used by anti-Semites against Jews. They are also distasteful when used methodologically by Breaking the Silence activists against the State of Israel. We must strive for a civilized Israel, but there's no need to turn Israel into a monster.

 

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