Blood libels then and now

All four of my grandparents emigrated from the Ukraine in the beginning of the 20th century. They came to America because they heard that it was a land of opportunity where Jews weren’t restricted to where they could live or what kind of work they could do; but mainly they left the Ukraine because they were sick and tired of periodic murderous pogroms in which Jews were brutalized and murdered while the authorities stood by or even took part. Many of these pogroms were incited by ‘blood libels’, accusations that Jews killed Christians, usually children, for their blood.

Well, guess what. Although there are far fewer Jews living there today than in 1900-1914, the descendants of the antisemitic pogromists are still at it.

Stories appearing on several Ukrainian Web sites claim Israel has brought around some 25,000 Ukrainian children into the country over the past two years in order to harvest their organs.

The claim, which was made by a Ukrainian philosophy professor and author at a pseudo-academic conference in Kiev five days ago, is the latest expression of a wave of anti-Semitism in the country. It comes a few months after a Swedish tabloid ran an article alleging that Israel Defense Forces soldiers have killed Palestinian civilians for their organs.  — Ha’aretz

The organ-harvesting story  — which the Swedish government, like the Ukrainian authorities in 1905, refused to condemn –  has spread around the world.

But this isn’t the first time something like this happened, or even the tenth. According to one list, blood libels against Jews have been propagated since the year 38 CE, and examples can be found up to 2009.

An artist's conception of the death of Simon of Trent at the hands of Jews in 1475

An artist's conception of the death of Simon of Trent at the hands of Jews in 1475

The Swedish story is not the only modern-day blood libel. The Goldstone report is full of them, unsubstantiated (because they are false) stories of crimes committed by Jews against non-Jews for the worst motives. Indeed, the Palestinians have developed a whole industry dedicated to creating them.

It’s interesting that the historical blood libels were usually aimed not at individual Jews, but rather at the Jewish community — which was invariably punished collectively.  In the Simon of Trent case, the entire Jewish community was tortured until seventeen ‘confessed’ to the crime. In the Kishniev pogrom of 1903, also incited by a blood libel, anti-Jewish rioting spanned three days with the entire Jewish quarter destroyed, almost 50 dead and hundreds injured.

Today’s blood libels are also aimed at the Jewish community, but today the world Jewish community has crystallized as the Jewish state, Israel. So the Swedish blood libel and the new Ukrainian version target the IDF and the state of Israel directly.

Now… please explain it to me again: exactly what is the difference between anti-Zionism and antisemitism?

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One Response to “Blood libels then and now”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    Sweden has become for various reasons one of the most anti- Semitic countries in Europe. The Ukranians were always particularly vicious in their anti- Semitism. Clearly anti-Zionism or Anti- Israel-ism has become the new Anti- Semitism.
    All of this is painfully true and distressing.
    What however most alarms is not the Swedes or Ukranians but the radical Islamic hatred especially that of the Mullahs of Iran. It is the Hatred combined with weapons of mass destruction which most deeply troubles.