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January 4, 2010 Special Dispatch No. 2730

Palestinian Journalist: Medieval Blood Libels Against Jews are Based in Fact

January 4, 2010
Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 2730

In an April 13, 2009 article in the UAE daily Al-Bayan, Jordanian journalist and researcher Nawwaf Al-Zarou, who is of Palestinian origin, justified the medieval European blood libels against the Jews. He claimed that at the foundation of Jewish heritage lays a bloodthirsty and terrorist nature, the expression of which has reached new heights in Israel's crimes against the Palestinians. Al-Zarou based his claims on a February 2007 article in the Israeli daily Haaretz, which included an interview with historian Ariel Toaff, a professor at Bar Ilan University, who wrote a controversial book, Passovers of Blood: The Jews of Europe and Ritual Murders, that alleged a basis for some of the blood libel accusations in medieval Europe.[1]

Following are translated excerpts from Al-Zarou's article:[2]

"Jews Used Christian Blood on the Jewish Holiday of Passover"

"U.S. President Barack Obama reminded us of the Jewish Passover recently, when he invited close friends and some members of the administration to a special dinner at the White House... on the occasion of the Jews' Passover... Senior White House officials said, 'The dinner comprised foods from the Jewish kitchen. The Jews call this meal the "Passover seder."' They think that this is the first time an American president has held a Jewish meal in the White House.

"The National Jewish Democratic Council praised Obama's initiative, announcing: 'President Obama, who held a Jewish Passover feast [in the White House] for first time in the history of the U.S., has shown his deep personal connection with the Jewish community.'

"We must ask: Does President Obama really [grasp] the connection between 'Passover' and 'blood,' or between Passover and the Jews' blood dances? Or are [his actions] only sycophancy towards the Jewish council, aimed at pleasing them and atoning for his recent statements regarding the 'two-state solution'?...

"A large part of the historical statements and stories about the Jews' blood dances in Europe were based on genuine texts – not imaginary ones, as a few claim. The Jews used Christian blood on the Jewish holiday of Passover. This fact was recently mentioned by the Jewish historian Professor Ariel Toaff of Bar Ilan University, in a new book titled Passover of Blood, published in Italy. This book, which is a document of confession, provoked enraged and harsh responses to its author from Jews and Israelis.

"In an interview with [the Israeli daily] Haaretz,[3] historian Ariel Toaff clings to his position on the use of blood by the medieval Ashkenazi Jew, saying: 'I will not give up my devotion to the truth and academic freedom even if the world crucifies me.' Despite the condemnations directed against him, Toaff clung to the arguments presented in his book – according to which there is a factual basis for certain accusations of blood libel in Europe. He said that he was 'trying to show that the Jewish world at that era was violent,' and that, 'within Ashkenazi Judaism there were extremist groups that could have committed such an act and justified it.'[4] [Toaff explained] that he had arrived at these conclusions after coming across several testimonies from the 1475 trial for the murder of a child, Simonino of Trento, which [in the past] were discounted as false, but which in fact had an actual basis and could not be disregarded.

"He also said: 'Since 2001 I have been teaching at Bar Ilan about the blood libels. I took the testimony from [the trial on] the murder of the boy Simonino, and examined the details appearing in it, so as to learn whether they were indeed fabricated and introduced arbitrarily by the investigators. I found that there are statements and several testimonies that are not part of the culture of the Christian judges, and that could not have been invented or added by them'...

"[Toaff] revealed that he had managed to prove, in many dozens of pages, that the matter of the blood libel is central to Passover, and concluded that there was [indeed] use of blood on this holiday – primarily by the Ashkenazi Jew, who ascribed curative powers to the blood of children, and accordingly used powders made from blood. Toaff added that he found proof of rabbinical permission to use blood, even human blood. In his view, blood was an important element in medieval European medical practice, and German medicine merchants sold human blood."

"The Terrorist, Bloodthirsty Zionist Nature is a Fundamental Element Hidden at the Foundation of This [Jewish] Heritage"

Al-Zarou then translates loosely from a February 20, 2007 article in Haaretz on Toaff's book:[5] "Der Sturmer published a special issue of the paper on May 1, 1934. An illustration on the front page showed a German boy lying on a table surrounded by Jews with long beards and hats. They are sucking the blood out of his body through long tubes – another link in the long chain of stories about the 'Passover of Blood' that started off in Norwich, England in the 12th century, where it was said that the Jews bought Christian children prior to Passover, and then drank their blood and crucified them while brutally torturing them. Similar stories cropped up all over Christian Europe – from Torino [sic],[6] Italy and La Guardia, Spain in the 15th century; to Poland, Hungary, Greece, France, Russia and Germany in the 17th and 18th centuries; to the famous Beilis 'Passover of Blood' in 1911 in Kiev, Ukraine. There were also stories of the drinking of blood in Damascus in 1840, in Beirut in 1887 and in 1892."

He then continued, "Moving to present-day Palestine, we can demonstrate, after [knowing] the abovementioned weighty facts exposed by the historian Toaff, that are proven by much evidence and documents, that we are not adding anything new in our emphasis that the terrorist, bloodthirsty Zionist nature is a fundamental element hidden at the foundation of this heritage. The revelation [of the Zionist nature], that reached new heights in recent years, underlines that the ideas of seeing others as infidels and using blood and terror are planted deeply in their nature...

"The ugly face of Zionism [is revealed] in the murderous crimes that the Israeli occupation carries out criminally, systematically, and openly against our Palestinian homeland, against our people, our land, our trees, our heritage, and our identity... "

Endnotes:

[1] Ariel Toaff is the son of Elio Toaff, a former Chief Rabbi of Rome.

[2] Al-Bayan (UAE), April 13, 2009.

[3] For the English version of the Haaretz interview with Prof. Toaff, see http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/824823.html.

[4] In quoting this passage, Al-Zarou makes some significant omissions. Haaretz quotes Toaff as saying: "I tried to show that the Jewish world at that time was also violent, among other things because it had been hurt by Christian violence. Of course I do not claim that Judaism condones murder. But within Ashkenazi Judaism there were extremist groups that could have committed such an act and justified it."

[6] The Haaretz article says "Trento."

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