by Joshua Levitt, The Algemeiner, Dec. 9, 2013
A Norwegian trade union repeated an age-old anti-Semitic canard to its membership, telling the 340,000 workers of the Union of Municipal and General Employees who receive its monthly magazine that Israel poisons wells of its Arab neighbors.
The accusations of well-poisoning, along with “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing,” were flagged by blogger Elder of Ziyon from a report by Miff.no, a pro-Israel Norwegian website that saw the original article in Norwegian. The article was written about a group of Norwegian trade union delegates who were received by Palestinian Authority members.
As Elder of Ziyon noted, in addition to the baseless accusations, the internal logic of their argument was flawed: “It notes that the Arab population in the area has increased by a factor of 10 in the past 100 years, and compares that to Norway’s population which has only doubled in the same time period. If the Palestinian Arabs have suffered ‘genocide’ and ‘ethnic cleansing,’ as the union claims, then what do you call what happened to Norwegians?”
“The article also says, as fact, ‘Israeli settlers are known to poison wells.’ Thus we see the medieval blood libel of Jews poisoning wells has become accepted as truth in the 21st century,” the popular anonymous blogger wrote.
Commenters on the Elder of Ziyon site were quick to add context to the poisoned well story.
In recent years, unconfirmed reports of well contamination by Israeli settlers in the West Bank have surfaced. Cases include that of rotting chicken carcases [sic] found in a well at At-tuwani near Hebron in 2004, although suspected settlers blamed Arab infighting. In the following years, various NGOs reported similar occurrences, accusing settlers of deliberately contaminating cisterns.
“The worst case I have seen was about 17 years ago on a USENET newsgroup when the Arabs accused the Jews of putting medicine in their aquifers to make Arabs impotent,” Konrad wrote. “I tried to counter that idiocy on the newsgroup by noting that aquifers are not confined to any one area; and that poisoning Arab wells would also poison Jewish aquifers by seepage; so the charge is ridiculous – since no Jew would take a chance with his own virility.”
In Germany there had already been massacres stirred up by local demagogues: the Roettingen “Knight Rindfleisch,” the Rintfleisch massacres (1298), and the innkeeper-knight Arnold von Uissigheim König Armleder (“King Leatherarm”) of the Armleder massacres (1336–38).
As the plague swept across Europe in the mid-14th century, annihilating more than half the population, Jews were taken as scapegoats, in part because better hygiene among Jewish communities and isolation in the ghettos meant in some places that Jews were less affected. Accusations spread that Jews had caused the disease by deliberately poisoning wells.
The first massacres directly related to the plague took place in April 1348 in Toulon, France, where the Jewish quarter was sacked, and forty Jews were murdered in their homes, then in Barcelona. In 1349 massacres and persecution spread across Europe, including the Erfurt massacre (1349), the Basel massacre, massacres in Aragon, and Flanders. 900 Jews were burnt alive on 14 February 1349 in the “Valentine’s Day” Strasbourg massacre, where the plague had not yet affected the city. Many hundreds of Jewish communities were destroyed in this period.
One Norwegian stood up for her countrymen. Helene Kihle Michelsen said that the country’s newly elected government is much more pro-Israel than the previous administration of the Socialist regime of Jens Stoltenberg, which governed from 2005 until last month.
The new Norwegian government is formed by a coalition of the Conservative (Hoyre) Party and junior partner the Progress Party, which leads The Friends of Israel organization in the Norwegian parliament. Its party leader, Siv Jensen, was named Finance Minister.