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memri
October 22, 2002 No.
432

Al-Hayat Highlights Large Popularity of Syrian Defense Minister's Blood Libel Book at Syrian International Book Fair

Today, the London Arabic daily Al-Hayat[1] reported that Ba'ath party leader for decades Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass's book "The Matzah of Zion," which presents the Damascus blood libel of 1840 as a "historical fact,"[2] enjoyed high popularity at the international book fair held in Damascus. The following are excerpts from the article:

"A source in the Tlass Publishing House for Research and Translation told Al-Hayat that this book is very popular among both the 600 books of the Tlass publishers, and the 38,000 books exhibited in the fair. The reason for its popularity, said the source, is 'the will of the next generation to know about the Jews, how they harmed Arabs and others, and their motives to murder other human beings.'"

"Due to the large demand, the Tlass publication decided to publish its eighth reprint of the book in Arabic, and to publish it in other languages as well, such as English, French, and Italian."

"Tlass promised that to every new reprint, he will attach a document or a new chapter which will shed light on the distortion of the Torah [by the Jews] and on the criminal Jewish religious rituals. He said he will do it on the basis of the belief in Allah's words, be he praised..."[3]

"The present reprint includes a part of Tlass's dissertation and a translation of a book named 'The Young Martyr of Prague' that tells the story of the murder of the youth Simon Abeles in 1694 in Prague, Czechoslovakia.[4] It also includes the reactions to Tlass's book since its first issue. Recently, Tlass responded to accusations that he is antisemitic, saying: 'Don't they know what antisemitism means? Do they know I'm an Arab, and the Arabs are semites, and being anti-Arab is being antisemitic?'"

"The official Syrian response to the same accusation was: "We are not racists, we are not against the monotheistic religions and the Jewish religion amongst them; we are against Zionism."


[1] Al-Hayat (London), October 21, 2002.

[2]See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 99: The Damascus Blood Libel (1840) as Told by Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass, Special Dispatch No. 150: Leading Egyptian Newspaper Raises Blood Libel, Special Dispatch No. 190: The Arab Answer to 'Schindler's List'.

[3]At this point he quotes from the Koran, Sura 13:17.

[4]See the Jewish Encyclopedia on this issue: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=494&letter=p.