The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: antisemitism/blood-libel/rappaport-001



"Even through the Age of Enlightenment the blood accusation persisted
into so-called modern times.  In fact, it reached another climax in the
nineteenth century.  Cecil Roth gives special significance to the
Damascus Affair of 1840, because it initiated a new era in foreign
affairs and confirmed Occidental Jewry in its position of leadership. On
5 February of that year, Father Thomas, Superior of the Franciscan
Convent at Damascus, mysteriously  disappeared, together with his
servant. By means of the bastinado, a beating with a stick or cudgel on
the soles of the feet, a sort of confession was extorted from a poor
Jewish barber to the effect that a ritual murder had been meditated.  In
consequence several members of the community were arrested and put to
torture.  A general massacre seemed imminent.

"When the news reached Europe and America, public opinion was deeply
stirred.  Meetings of protest, attended by Christians as well as Jews,
were held at the Mansion House in London, as well as in New York and
Philadelphia.  Sir Moses Montefiore (who had been sheriff for the City
of London upon the accession of Queen Victoria, when he had been
knighted) proceeded to the East together with Adolphe Cremieux, the
famous French lawyer, and Solomon Munk, the well-known Orientalist.  At
Alexandria, they obtained an order without difficulty from Mehemet Ali,
governor of Egypt, for the release of the survivors. In Constantinople,
the delegates were received in audience by the Sultan, from whom they
elicited a firman, unconditionally acquitting the accused persons,
pronouncing the ritual murder a gross libel, and confirming the
inviolability of the persons and the property of Jews throughout the
Ottoman Empire." (Rappaport, Ernest.  The Ritual Murder Accusation: The 
Persistence of Doubt and the Repetition of Compulsion p. 309-310)


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