The Blood Libel - the claim that Jews use the blood of Christians to make the Matzah (unleavened bread) eaten at Passover - is an ancient accusation against the Jewish people. In modern times, this claim has surfaced in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict. In 1984, long-time Syrian Defense Minster and Ba'athist leader, Field Marshal Mustafa Tlass, wrote a book entitled 'The Matzah of Zion' about the 1840 Damascus Blood Libel which he described as an historical event that was researched and verified by several European Universities. More recently, in November 1999, Al-Usbu' Al-Adabi, a weekly of the Syrian Arab Writers Association, published an article mentioning the 1840 Damascus Blood Libel.
With the continuing Israeli-Palestinian violence, these accusations are resurfacing. In a television debate on the Qatari based Arabic cable news channel Al-Jazeera, the Palestinian Liberation Army Mufti, Sheikh Colonel Nader Al-Tamimi, claimed that there can be no peace with the Jews because they use and suck the blood of Arabs on the holidays of Passover and Purim. In this appearance, Al-Tamimi also called for the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak - prompting the Egyptian government to call for a boycott of Al-Jazeera and close its offices in Egypt.
However, on the issue of Jewish use of Arab blood for religious worship there seems to be less of a disagreement. The government-sponsored daily Al-Ahram - the leading paper in Egypt - published an almost full-page article by columnist 'Adel Hamooda entitled, "A Jewish Matzah made from Arab Blood." Following are excerpts from this article:
The Murder of Father Toma
"Every time I see the children of the stones in occupied Palestine as they spring like blood from the arteries I remember my grandfather who used to gather all the neighborhood children in his home in Alexandria to give them candy and tell them the tale of the Jew who slaughtered a boy and made Passover Matzah from his blood. Then, drunk with lust and barbarity, they devoured it."
"I thought that my grandfather's story was a fairy tale like the story about the wicked witch who turned children into frogs. But when I matured and read... I found out that the story of the Jewish blood Matzah is true [and] that all its details are recorded in the Shar'i [Islamic Religious] Courts in Damascus, Aleppo and Hama in 1840. The French Orientalist Charles Laurand published these details in a book called The Murder of Father Toma and his Servant Ibrahim Amara. The book was translated to Arabic by Dr. Youssef Nasrallah and published in Cairo in 1898."
"On February 7, 1840 the French Consul-General in Damascus complained to the Ottoman Governor that two days earlier Father Toma went to the Jewish Quarter... When his servant Ibrahim Amara discovered that Father Toma [was missing]... he went to look for him in the Jewish Quarter and also did not return.... The police found one of Father Toma's leaflets in the shop of Suleiman, an Israeli barber who lived near the synagogue. ...[Suleiman,] after being whipped, admitted that Father Toma was in the Jewish Quarter with a group of Rabbis including Moshe Behor Yehuda, Moshe Abu Al-Afia, Yosef Laniado, David Harari, and his two brothers Isaac and Aaron. Then he admitted that all of them went to David Harari's home. The barber Suleiman confessed that he was invited a half-hour after sunset to Harari's home and was asked to slaughter the handcuffed Father Toma. He said he could not do it, but the men promised him gold and silver coins. He still did not agree and they told him that whoever does it pleases God and will enter Paradise and will play with the female of the whale whose meat God promised that righteous Jews will eat on the day of resurrection."
"...They threw Father Toma on the ground, put his neck on a basin, and slaughtered him. They were very careful to make sure that not a single drop was spilled. Then they moved him to another room, burned his clothes, and cut his body to pieces, which they put into a sack and threw to the sewage near the Jewish Quarter."
The Barber Sulieman's Interrogation
"Question: Did they pay you?
Answer: They promised to pay me if I keep silent. If I reveal it, they will blame me for the murder. They promised the servant who witnessed the murder that they would arrange a wife for him."
"Question: At what time did the murder occur?
Answer: I think it occurred at dinner or a little after... The priest was held above the basin for 30-45 minutes until all of his blood poured into it."
"Question: Did blood dribble from the bag?
Answer: No they kept every drop the way they guard gold or the Talmud."
"Question: What for?
Answer: They use it to make Matzahs."
Aaron Hariri's Interrogation
"Question: How did you slaughter him?
Answer: We brought him into David's home and with everyone's consent we killed him to take his blood. After we bottled the blood we sent it to Rabbi Moshe Abu Al-Afia. We did it from the conviction that blood is an essential component in the implementation of a religious edict."
"Question: How is blood used in your religion?
Answer: It is used to make Matzah."
"Question: Is the blood distributed to all the Jews?
Answer: No there is no need for it, the blood is kept with the Chief Rabbi."
Rabbi Moshe Abu Al-Afia's Interrogation
"Question: How is the blood used? Is it put in the Matzah, is it given to the whole Jewish people?
Answer: The blood is put into Matzah, which is not given to everyone, only to the most Orthodox Jews. They send flour to the Chief Rabbi Yakov Antebi who kneads the dough himself and puts the blood into it secretly without anyone knowing it. He sends Matzah to whoever sends him flour."
"Question: Did you ask the Rabbi if he sends the blood to Rabbis in other countries or is it for Syrian Jewish residents only?
Answer: He told me he is obliged to send blood to the Jews of Baghdad."
"Question: Was the intention to kill a specific priest or any Christian?
Answer: They wanted the blood of any Christian, but they took Father Toma because he fell into their hands accidentally."
Talmud Permits Crimes Against non-Jews
"After Rabbi Moshe Abu Al-Afia finished his testimony he asked to convert to Islam, chose the name Muhammad Efendi and wrote, with his own hand, a letter to the Governor explaining everything that happened. He mentioned that the use of blood for Jewish Matzahs is found in an ancient holy book [the Arabic name for the book is unclear] which no one renounces."
"The amazing thing is that none of the Rabbis who committed this terrible crime repented or felt that they committed a crime. The explanation for this is found in the Talmud... According to the Talmud, Jewish souls are more precious to God than other souls, because the souls of non-Jews are devilish and resemble animal souls. They believe the non-Jews are like dogs, donkeys, and bulls and that their homes are mangers and that they are profane souls whose lives are worthless which is why it is permitted to murder, slaughter, cheat, deceive, steal from, and beat them, rape their wives and mock them."
"These [Jewish] convictions justify in their eyes, the murder of Father Toma and his servant Ibrahim Amara. This also explains what we see on TV screens where Israeli occupation armies kill children mercilessly while chewing gum as if they are on a trip or at a ball... not as if they kill human beings, rather as if they were killing stray animals in accordance with the religious law set forth in the Talmud..."
Israelis Using the Blood of Palestinian Children
"The bestial drive to knead Passover Matzahs with the blood of non-Jews is [confirmed] in the records of the Palestinian police where there are many recorded cases of the bodies Arab children who had disappeared being found torn to pieces without a single drop of blood. The most reasonable explanation is that the blood was taken to be kneaded into the dough of extremist Jews to be used in Matzahs to be devoured during Passover."
"If what is written in the Talmud is implemented then every devout Jew who keeps the Lord's edicts is forbidden to live in the cities that are holy for the Jews [Jerusalem, Hebron, Safed, Tiberius] unless he eats one of the blood Matzahs. Otherwise he will be like the idol worshippers, the Muslims and the Christians... whose food Jews may not eat. Whose good deeds Jews may not mention, whose daughters they may not marry, and in whose tombstones they may not touch even though they are allowed to drink from their blood..."