Mar 1, 2007
The accusation that Jews practice a ritual in which they murder a Christian child in order to utilize his blood has led to untold suffering inflicted on innocent Jews from the twelfth century into modern times. During the last several generations, all civilized people came to realize that this is a hostile fantasy with no basis in reality. Notwithstanding this consensus, virulent anti-Semites, from the Nazis in Der Sturmer to a disturbing number of contemporary Arab enemies of Israel, have maliciously continued to affirm its validity.
Now, a book by the Israeli professor Ariel Toaff has provided aid and comfort to such anti-Semites by implying that a small group of late medieval Jewish extremists might have actually engaged in such behavior. Toaff has withdrawn the book and insisted that he never meant to say this, but his work has been widely understood to suggest such a possibility. Readers of news reports naturally wonder whether he has really discovered evidence that should lead to a reassessment.
It is extremely important that everyone understand that he has uncovered nothing—absolutely nothing—that calls the utter falsity of the blood libel into question. His argument rests essentially on the following: Some medieval Europeans—Jews and Christians-- believed that blood had curative powers; a few of them traded in medicines containing blood; Jews had reason to be hostile to Christians who persecuted them, and they sometimes expressed this hostility in their religious texts; Jews interrogated under torture confessed to ritual murder; some of these Jews supplied accurate texts of the Passover haggadah to their interrogators, though the texts themselves lend no support whatever to the accusation in question.
It is an insult to the intelligence to affirm that these considerations generate even a minuscule degree of support for the proposition that Jews murdered Christians for their blood. Internal Jewish texts contain not a scintilla of evidence for such a practice. They flatly forbid murder, and the legal principles they embody render unthinkable the practice of blood rituals of the sort that the torturers report. Jews, Christian scholars, even the vast majority of Jewish converts to Christianity through the ages affirmed that such charges are entirely, outrageously false. Indeed, Adriano Prosperi, a distinguished non-Jewish Italian historian, described Toaff’s book as a “carnivalesque joke in the worst taste.” Jew-haters have no interest in truth and will both embrace and inflate reports purportedly confirming their fabrications. It comes as no surprise that their websites have gleefully disseminated the imagined findings of Toaff's book. But people of good will should not be confused. The blood libel has always been a lie—and it remains a lie.
About the RCA:
The Rabbinical Council of America, with national headquarters in New York City, is a professional organization serving over 1000 Orthodox Rabbis in the United States of America, Canada, Israel, and around the world. Membership is comprised of duly ordained Orthodox Rabbis who serve in positions of the congregational Rabbinate, Jewish education, chaplaincies, and other allied fields of Jewish communal work.
For further information contact:
Rabbi Basil Herring
Executive Vice President
The Rabbinical Council of America
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