June 29, 2017 Special Dispatch No. 6983

From The MEMRI Archive: The Damascus Blood Libel (1840) As Told By The Late Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass

June 29, 2017
Syria | Special Dispatch No. 6983

Former Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass died on Tuesday (June 27, 2017) in Paris. Tlass, who served as defense minister in 1972-2004, joined the Syrian Ba'th Party in 1972 after participating in the 1966 Neo-Ba'th coup that ousted president Amin Al-Hafiz.

Tlass authored several books, including the antisemitic best-seller The Matzah of Zion (1983), which repeats the Damascus blood libel of 1840, namely the allegation that the Jewish community perpetrated the ritual murder of a Christian priest in order to use his blood to bake Passover matzah.

The second edition, published in 1986, was purportedly more 'scientific' than the first; footnotes were added to ground the allegations, and the appendix featured photocopies of official documents (with accompanying Arabic translation) exchanged by the French Consulate in Damascus, the French General Consulate in Alexandria, and the French government, regarding the affair.

The covers of both editions show a man with his throat slashed and his blood collecting in a basin. The first edition's cover displayed a group of Jewish people carrying out the murder, sketched to look 'Jewish' according to Nazi depictions. The second edition features a Menorah, the Jewish symbol, cutting the victim's throat.

Tlass's book is known to be influential in international antisemitic circles as a reliable source of information on "ritual murder by the Jews." The book can be purchased on the Internet in the original Arabic and is available in French, Italian, and other languages.

The following is a translation (from the Arabic) of Tlass's introduction to the 1986 edition, as previously published by MEMRI in June 2002:


The cover of The Matzah of Zion (image:


Historical Circumstances

"During the 1830s, Muhammad 'Ali, the ruler of Egypt on behalf of the Ottoman Empire, managed to unite Syria with Egypt [thus ruling both]. This sparked a grave international crisis because of the dangers this unification posed to European interests… During this stormy time, Damascus was shocked by a terrible crime – the priest Tomas Al-Kaboushi [the Capuchin] fell victim to a group of Jews who sought to drain his blood to prepare baked goods for their Yom Kippur holiday [sic]."

"This crime was not the first of its kind. The West had known many similar crimes, as had Czarist Russia. Some of these were exposed and reported in the protocols of investigations, despite all the efforts to eradicate them and hide their traces… Thus, the crime of the murder of the priest Tomas and his servant was not the first of its kind and certainly will not be the last.[1] Yet this event had some unique elements due to the political circumstances at the time."

"The Cairo and Damascus authorities expressed great interest in the abhorrent crime, and the French Consul [in Damascus] participated in the investigation because the [victim] most treacherously murdered was a French subject. In addition to the loathsome crime itself, the investigation revealed grave issues regarding its motives, linked to the precepts of the Jewish religion, as set out in the Talmud..."


The Jews' Attempt To Hide Their Crime

"[Following the exposure of the crime], the Jews caused a great uproar everywhere. Their leaders and supporters beat down the doors of the European and American rulers to [urge them] to intervene, to wipe out the traces of the crime, and to acquit the Jews of the charge. And, as happens today, the Jews carry out a crime, after which they stir up a storm in the world and do not settle for acquittal but even exploit the opportunity to gain profit."

"They [convinced] the Austrian consul to intervene in the investigation in favor of some of the accused, on the pretext that they were Austrian subjects… Similarly, they exploited the tolerance of the Egyptian authorities and the French consul [in Istanbul], and contacted the accused to urge them to deny [all charges]. They pressured those of the accused who confessed and threatened them so they would withdraw their confessions… Similarly, the national authorities [in Syria], which oversaw the investigation, were accused of using torture to extract confessions from the accused [Jews]… If indeed torture took place, it was the acts of individuals with no connection whatsoever to Islamic law. Similarly, torture aimed at extracting confessions was an accepted method in those days in Europe and America, and it would be no exaggeration to say that it is still customary in these countries today."

"[Furthermore], the Jewish leaders in Europe and America swung into action, and exploited their financial and media influence to urge the great powers to intervene in their favor. They activated their supporters in Parliament and the press, organized support demonstrations, and sent off prominent European Jews [to help the accused]. By these means, the Jews managed to extract a firman [a ruler's order] in their favor. [However,] the Jews did not settle for this, but sought to wipe out what was written on Father Tomas's grave in the Franciscan church: 'Here lie the bones of the Capuchin missionary Father Tomas, murdered by the Jews on February 5, 1840'…"[2]


Why Do The Jews Get Away With Murder

"The 1840 incident recurred several times in the 20th century when the Zionists carried out the mass crimes in Palestine and Lebanon – acts that shocked the conscience of good people all over the world and were condemned by world public opinion. But each time, the Zionist financial, media, and political influence managed to pacify the anger and distract the people from these crimes. Instead of being punished, the Zionists received a reward...: great financial aid and horrifying stockpiles of advanced weaponry. Instead of one Muhammad 'Ali in the 19th century... they found several Muhammad 'Alis [in the 20th century]."

"The crime took place in Damascus, a city of tolerance and peace, just as many similar [crimes] took place in other parts of the world. How [could] this happen while the Jews are just a tiny minority in the heart of the societies in which they live? How have these societies ignored this hate-saturated minority?… Perhaps the atmosphere of tolerance instituted by the Muslim Arabs is what allowed the Jews to live in complete freedom in the Muslim Arab lands. The Jews knew these countries well. They isolated themselves so as to surround themselves with mystery, so the Muslim world knew almost nothing about them. Thus, it is not surprising that Damascus was shocked by this loathsome crime. [However], it rapidly overcame its ignorance about [the Jews]... and now every mother warns [her son]: 'Be careful not to stray far from home, lest the Jew comes, puts you in his sack, takes you, and slaughters you and drains your blood in order to prepare the 'matza of Zion' [the Passover matzos].' Generation after generation has passed on this message of the 'treachery of the Jews.'"

"[In the meantime] a state arose for the Jews in Al-Sham [Greater Syria]. But has the Jewish enmity disappeared, or do the precepts of the Talmud – with all their crimes and distortions - continue to play their hate-filled role against humanity and the society around the Jews? Monitoring the daily events in the occupied territories proves, beyond a doubt, that what is called 'Zionist racism' is only the continuation and refinement of Talmudic precepts…"[3]

"With the publication of this book, I intended to illuminate some of the secrets of the Jewish religion by [describing] the actions of the Jews, their blind and repugnant fanaticism regarding their belief, and the implementation of the Talmudic precepts compiled in the Diaspora by their rabbis who distorted the principles of the Jewish belief (the religious law of the Prophet Moses), as it is said in the Koran [2:79]…"[4]



[1] In the footnotes to the introduction, Tlass mentions several other cases: "An incident of this type took place in Algeria in the mid-18th century. The Jews abducted a Christian child and drained his blood, but because of the money they paid the Turkish ruler of Algeria, they managed to obscure the matter." Another example is, "A Christian child named Henri Abd Al-Nur was abducted and his blood was drained. The investigation proved the Jews' responsibility [for the crime] but they bribed the rulers and obscured the signs of the crime." To document such cases, Tlass mentions Yusuf Hana Nasrallah's Treasures of the Talmud, which is actually a translation of the notorious antisemitic professor August Rohling's 1871 book Der Talmudjude.

[2] The photo of the priest's headstone in the 1986 edition shows the inscription: "The Jews slaughtered him, [his body] was not found in its entirety… and these are the remains of his bones."

[3] The 1983 edition states that, "the investigators exposed the crime and even the covert religious motive underpinning it. The governor of Al-Sham decided to execute the criminals, [but] at this point the foreign states and their consulates began to play a major role. The foreigners divided the areas of influence among themselves. Austria undertook to defend the Jews. France undertook to defend the Catholics… All the sides agreed to resolve the affair in the Jewish style, by appeasing the parties with money. The accused were released from Damascus prison and went to Muhammad 'Ali Pasha's Egypt… Some 150 years have passed since that crime, and still the crime has lost nothing of its gravity, since over time the small crime has developed into a large crime, and a powerful connection remains between the two."

[4] At the end of his introduction Tlass thanks his comrade-in-arms Col. Bassam 'Assali, who was his "right hand in preparing the book." He goes on to express his hope that he had fulfilled "part of his obligation to expose the historic activities of the enemies of our nation." Tlass also draws conclusions regarding "the importance of national sovereignty." According to him, the impudence shown by one of the accused Jews towards the president of the Syrian court could not have happened "without the influence of the foreigners in Syria at that time." He reminds the Arabs that "sovereignty cannot be divided, and no foreigner must impinge upon it. Sadat's calamitous error, which led to his assassination, was his scorn for the national rights of the Egyptian people, and [the fact that] he had sold his land to Satan… Following the Camp David agreements, Egyptian sovereignty became partial…"

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