How the ADL Director Emeritus foments antisemitism
The earliest references to Jews having murdered Christian children appear in Greek sources from the first century. However, the Blood Libel myth metastasized into its ugliest form during the Middle Ages in Europe. The libel usually portrayed Jews using the blood of Christian children in Passover matzoh or crucifying children to re-enact Jesus’s death by torture.
Norwich, England, 1144 was the first documented incident of a blood libel accusation, and it set a pattern for the centuries of slander that followed. The body of 12-year-old William of Norwich was found in the woods. An anti-Semitic monk, Thomas of Monmouth, wrote a screed blaming Jews for his death. He further claimed that every year an international council of Jews chose a country where they would kill a child during Easter because of a Jewish prophecy saying that doing so would ensure the restoration of Jews to the Holy Land. Monmouth’s entirely invented story resulted in massacres of Jewish communities in London and York. During the following centuries, when a murdered European child turned up, Jews became a convenient scapegoat (and murderers went unpunished). Thousands of Jews died because of this pernicious lie.
Even in recent times, the myth has persisted in Syria (2003), Russia (2005), Poland (according to a survey of the belief among Christians done in the 2000s), Saudi Arabia (2012), Lebanon (2014), Jordan (2014), and Italy (2020).
Blood Libel, by definition, is false. No one ever produced evidence that the thousands of lynched and massacred European Jews murdered a Christian child, crucified a Christian child, and used their blood in matzoh. I won’t even go into Jewish dietary regulations because that would afford the accusation too much credit.
On May 21st, 2020, the Israeli newspaper of record, Ha’aretz, published pictures of children killed in yet another Gaza war that traces back to provocations against Palestinians by Israeli police and right-wing extremists in Jerusalem. On May 22nd, the New York Times published these pictures.
Abe Foxman, Director Emeritus of the Anti-Defamation League, wrote on Twitter,
I am cancelling my subscription to NYTimes. I grew up in America on the NYT- I delivered the NYT to my classmates- I learned civics- democracy and all the news”fit to print” for 65 years but no more. Today’s blood libel of Israel and the Jewish people on the front page is enough.
Mr. Foxman, these children were not a falsehood. When Israeli bombs fell on their homes, their suffering and their deaths happened. Before that, they were real human beings, loved by their families, as, I assume, you love your own children and grandchildren.
Billions of people in this world have not learned the history of European anti-Semitism. However, they know their own histories of brutal colonization by European empires, which considered the lives of their peoples and the lives of their children disposable. Some people in these countries will hear you dismiss the deaths of Palestinian children as anti-Semitic slander and will draw certain conclusions. You have made the world less safe for Jews.