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June 28, 2018 1:56 pm

Bigoted Columnist Claims Israeli Jews Are ‘Poisoning the Wells’

avatar by Simon Plosker

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Britain’s Prince William disembarks from a plane upon his arrival at Ben-Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv, Israel, June 25, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen.

The official visit of future British monarch Prince William to Israel has generally been a very positive event. It’s disappointing, then, to see British journalist and commentator Peter Oborne using the opportunity to write a nasty anti-Israel piece in The Daily Mail.

It is disgusting, however, to see Oborne spreading blatant antisemitism:

Yes, you read that correctly — Oborne is charging Israeli settlers with poisoning Palestinian wells, which he claims to have personally witnessed.

Jews poisoning wells is a classic antisemitic canard that dates back to Medieval European times, when Jews were accused of being responsible for spreading disease such as the Black Death. This in turn led to massacres of Jewish communities.

As for the accusation that Israeli settlers are taking the best agricultural land and depriving Palestinians of water, this is a falsehood. Israeli tech turns barren land into thriving agricultural areas, and Israel actually supplies Palestinians with water and prevents them from wrecking their own and Israel’s supplies.

Oborne made this antisemitic claim only a few years after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas retracted the very same charge made in a June 23, 2016, speech to the European Parliament.

As the The Jerusalem Post reported:

The PA president had made the unsubstantiated charge in an address Thursday to the European Parliament, prompting harsh condemnation from Israel, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accusing Abbas of propagating a blood libel, referring to antisemitic allegations against Jews that arose in the Middle Ages.

The retraction, which was issued by the Palestine Liberation Organization, which Abbas chairs, said Abbas “rejected all claims that accuse him and the Palestinian people of offending the Jewish religion.”

“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 read.

So rather than witnessing Israeli settlers poisoning Palestinian wells, it appears that Oborne took his cue from an unsubstantiated blood libel that Abbas later retracted.

Either way, if Mahmoud Abbas has seen fit to retract a blatant antisemitic canard, a similar retraction and apology is the least that we should expect from Peter Oborne.

In the interests of full disclosure, when it comes to Oborne, HonestReporting has a history. Back in 2009, Oborne presented an episode of the Channel 4 investigative program Dispatches. The broadcast examined “one of the most powerful and influential political lobbies in Britain, which is working in support of the interests of the State of Israel,” directly attacking and smearing HonestReporting in the process.

Oborne and his cameraman even burst into HonestReporting’s Jerusalem office, with the camera rolling, looking for evidence of HonestReporting’s involvement in a shadowy “Israel lobby” operating in UK politics and media. Needless to say, Oborne’s conspiracy theories did not lead anywhere.

But this latest incident does nothing to dispel the impression that Peter Oborne is nothing more than a disgusting bigot.

We made a complaint about the piece.

Shortly afterwards, The Daily Mail made a shocking edit to Peter Oborne’s article, adding the words “according to a number of respectable sources” to justify the blatantly antisemitic allegation promoted by Oborne.

The Daily Mail’s reaction is almost as sickening as Oborne’s original offense.

Simon Plosker is Managing Editor of HonestReporting, the world’s largest grassroots organization monitoring anti-Israel media bias. This article was originally published at HonestReporting.com.

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