The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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

"There have been so many famous cases and trials involving ritual murder
that it is simply not possible to recount them all in a brief overview.
 In 1840, the Jews of Damascus were accused of the ritual murder of a
Capuchin friar, Father Tommaso.  To obtain "evidence" that is was a case
of ritual murder, some seventy Jews were tortured to secure the
necessary  confessions.  There was a concerted surge of international
protest and it did have some effect.  The Sultan Abdul Mejid issued a
firman or proclamation which said in part:

               "An ancient prejudice prevailed against the Jews.  The
               ignorant believed that the Jews were accustomed to
               sacrifice a human being, to make use of his blood at
               their feast of Passover…. The religious books of the
               Hebrews have been examined by learned men, well versed in
               their religious literature, the result of which
               examination is that it is found that Jews are strongly
               prohibited not only from using human blood but even that
               of animals. It therefore follows that the charges made
               against them and their religion are nothing but pure
               calumnies…. We cannot permit the Jewish nation (whose
               innocence of the crime alleged against them is evident)
               to be vexed and tormented upon accusations which have not
               the least foundation in truth.

"The sultan's words-like the words uttered by various popes-proved to be
insufficient to put the legend to rest." (Dundes, p. 343-4)

                                Work Cited

Dundes, Alan, Ed. The Blood Libel Legend, - A Casebook in 
   Anti-Semitic Folklore. University of Wisconsin Press, 1991

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