Professor's Claim Of Truth To 'Blood Libel' Plays Into Hands Of Anti-Semites
Update: Professor Ariel Toaff has suspended further distribution of the book. In a statement issued February 14, Toaff expressed "profound regret" over the uproar caused by the release of the book, and suggested that his research had been misrepresented in the media. "I will never allow any Jew-hater to use me or my research as an instrument for fanning the flames, once again, of the hatred that led to the murder of millions of Jews," he said.
New York, NY, February 8, 2007… The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called a charge by an Israeli historian that there was some truth to the medieval "blood libel" accusation "baseless and playing into the hands of anti-Semites everywhere." The charge that Jews used Christian blood for ritual purposes appears in the book, Bloody Passovers: The Jews of Europe and Ritual Murders by Professor Ariel Toaff of Bar Ilan University.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
It is incredible that anyone, much less an Israeli historian, would give legitimacy to the baseless blood libel accusation that has been the source of much suffering and attacks against Jews historically.
Toaff's citing the 'testimony' of Jews allegedly admitting to the use of Christian blood for Jewish ritual purposes is absurd on its face since these Jews were tortured and anything they said was under duress and not to be taken seriously. It is like trying to establish the charge of witchcraft based on the testimony at the Salem witch trials.
There is absolutely nothing in Jewish religion law that remotely suggests or allows such activity. The accusation, like many other conspiracy theories about Jews, was made out of whole cloth and reflected the tendency in Medieval Europe, based on Christian anti-Jewish doctrine, to demonize Jews and blame them for problems in society.
This is a time when conspiracy theories about Jews are flourishing. Extremist, anti-Semitic, and Islamic extremist groups will undoubtedly use this charge to further their hostile aims to the Jewish people.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.