No hate. No violence
Races? Only one Human race
United We Stand, Divided We Fall
Radio Islam
Know Your enemy!
No time to waste. Act now!
Tomorrow it will be too late

English

Franç.

Deutsch

Arabic

Sven.

Español

Portug.

Italian

Russ.

Bulg.

Croat.

Czech

Dansk

Finn.

Magyar

Neder.

Norsk

Polski

Rom.

Serb.

Slov.

Indon.

Türk.

New Jewish revelations on Jewish ritual murder and "blood libel"

from research made by the Israeli son of Rome´s Chief Rabbi

 

Here comes some astounding information on the case of the accusation of Jews historically having committed "ritual murder" of Christians, an accusation that always has been dismissed as pure "anti-Semitic" propaganda and "hate speech" by the leaders of the Jewish communities.

Now an Israeli researcher, Ariel Toaff - who also happens to be the son of Rome´s Chief Rabbi - has published a book on the subject, and his conclusions differ from those of the mainstream, official, Jewry. 

 

 


Ariel Toaff


the book cover
 


 

Bar-Ilan prof. defiant on blood libel book 'even if crucified'

By Ofri Ilani, Ha´aretz Correspondent

Israeli paper Ha´aretz, 12/02/2007

 

The author of a book on the use of blood by Jews in Ashkenazi communities in the Middle Ages said Sunday, in the face of the furor its publication aroused, "I will not give up my devotion to the truth and academic freedom even if the world crucifies me."

In an interview with Haaretz from Rome, Professor Ariel Toaff said he stood behind the contention of his book, "Pasque di Sangue," just published in Italy, that there is a factual basis for some of the medieval blood libels against the Jews. However, he said he was sorry his arguments had been twisted.

"I tried to show that the Jewish world at that time was also violent, among other things because it had been hurt by Christian violence," the Bar-Ilan history professor said. Of course I do not claim that Judaism condones murder. But within Ashkenazi Judaism there were extremist groups that could have committed such an act and justified it," he said.

Toaff said he reached his conclusions after coming across testimony from the trial for the murder of a Christian child, Simon of Trento, in 1475, which in the past was believed to have been falsified. "I found there were statements and parts of the testimony that were not part of the Christian culture of the judges, and they could not have been invented or added by them. They were components appearing in prayers known from the [Jewish] prayer book.

"Over many dozens of pages I proved the centrality of blood on Passover," Toaff said. "Based on many sermons, I concluded that blood was used, especially by Ashkenazi Jews, and that there was a belief in the special curative powers of children's blood. It turns out that among the remedies of Ashkenazi Jews were powders made of blood."

Although the use of blood is prohibited by Jewish law, Toaff says he found proof of rabbinic permission to use blood, even human blood. "The rabbis permitted it both because the blood was already dried," and because in Ashkenazi communities it was an accepted custom that took on the force of law, Toaff said. There is no proof of acts of murder, Toaff said, but there were curses and hatred of Christians, and prayers inciting to cruel vengeance against Christians. "There was always the possibility that some crazy person would do something."

Toaff said the use of blood was common in medieval medicine. "In Germany, it became a real craze. Peddlers of medicines would sell human blood, the way you have a transfusion today. The Jews were influenced by this and did the same things.

"In one of the testimonies in the Trento trial, a peddler of sugar and blood is mentioned, who came to Venice," Toaff says. "I went to the archives in Venice and found that there had been a man peddling sugar and blood, which were basic products in pharmacies of the period. A man named Asher of Trento was also mentioned in the trial, who had ostensibly come with a bag and sold dried blood. One of the witnesses said he was tried for alchemy in Venice and arrested there. I took a team to the archives and found documentation of the man's trial. Thus, I found that it is not easy to discount all the testimony," he added.

Toaff, who will be returning to Israel today, said he was very hurt by accusations that his research plays into the hands of anti-Semitic incitement. "I am being presented like the new Yigal Amir. But one shouldn't be afraid to tell the truth." Toaff also said, "unfortunately my research has become marginal, and only the real or false implications it might have are being related to. I directed the research at intelligent people, who know that in the Jewish world there are different streams. I believe that academia cannot avoid dealing with issues that have an emotional impact. This is the truth, and if I don't publish it, someone else will find it and publish it."

Still, Toaff says he is sorry he did not explain some of the points in his book more clearly.

He claims that he has been making the same arguments for a long time. "After 35 years of research, I have not become a stupid anti-Semite, and have not published a book to make money."

In any case, Toaff says he believes his findings have current implications. "Extremists in the past brought disaster on us by false accusations. I wanted to show that hatred and incitement of this kind can develop, because there will always be someone who will take advantage of it."

Meanwhile, Bar-Ilan University announced Sunday that its president, Professor Moshe Kaveh, will summon Toaff to explain his research. The university's statement said it strongly objected to what was implied in media publications regarding Toaff's research, and condemned "any attempt to justify the terrible blood libels against the Jews." However, the university also reiterated that Toaff was among the senior lecturers in his field in Israel and internationally.

 



Historian angers Jews by probing medieval accusations of anti-Christian hatred

By Ariel David, Associated Press

Posted 2/10/2007

 

ROME — An Italian-Israeli historian has angered fellow Jews by taking on a subject that has long haunted his people: alleged anti-Christian hatred he says fueled medieval accusations that Jews killed Christians in ritual murders.

Ariel Toaff's book, just released in Italy, shocked the country's small Jewish community — in part because he is the son of Elio Toaff, the chief rabbi who welcomed Pope John Paul II to Rome's synagogue two decades ago in a historic visit that helped ease Catholic-Jewish relations after centuries of tensions.

The author, who teaches medieval and Renaissance history at Bar-Ilan University outside Tel Aviv, Israel, delves into the charge that Jews added the blood of Christian children to wine and unleavened bread for Passover — allegations that resulted in torture, show trials and executions, periodically devastating Europe's Jewish communities over the years.

Historians have long disputed the medieval allegations, dismissing them as racism. But "blood libel" stories remain popular in anti-Semitic literature today.

In his Pasque di Sangue— Bloody Passovers — Toaff cites confessions from Jews accused of ritual murder to expose what he claims was a body of anti-Christian literature, prayers and rites among the communities of central Europe.

Jewish and Catholic scholars have denounced Toaff's work, saying he simply reinterpreted known documents — and has given credence to confessions that were extracted under torture.

In interviews with the Italian media and in parts of his book, Toaff has suggested that some ritual murders might have really taken place, committed by Ashkenazi Jews seeking revenge for a slew of massacres, forced conversions and persecutions suffered by German Jewry from the First Crusade of 1096 onwards.

Such acts were "instinctive, visceral, virulent actions and reactions, in which innocent and unknowing children became victims of the love of God and of vengeance," Toaff wrote in the book's preface. "Their blood bathed the altars of a God who, it was believed, needed to be guided, sometimes impatiently pushed to protect and to punish."

Fearing the book would fuel anti-Semitism, Italy's Jewish community has condemned the work. Italian rabbis issued a statement recalling that Jewish law has always banned ingesting blood or using it for rituals.

"It is absolutely improper to use statements extracted under torture centuries ago to construct eccentric and abhorrent historical theses," the statement said. Toaff's 91-year-old father has been silent about the book and didn't sign the statement, but news reports and Jewish community officials said he agreed with the criticism.

The first few thousand copies of the book were released on Thursday, and publishing house Il Mulino said it had already ordered a reprint. There were no immediate plans for editions in other languages.

In an interview Friday with The Associated Press, Toaff claimed that his work had been partly misunderstood. He said he did not intend to imply that ritual murders had really occurred.

"I believe that ritual murders never happened," he said. "There is no proof that Jews committed such an act."

But Toaff said the confessions do hold some truth — as when the accused recount anti-Christian liturgies that were mainly used on Passover, when the celebration of the Israelites' liberation from ancient Egypt became a metaphor for Judaism's hope for redemption from its suffering at the hands of Christians.

"These liturgical formulas in Hebrew with a strong anti-Christian tone cannot be projections of the judges who could not know these prayers, which didn't even belong to Italian rites but to the Ashkenazi tradition," he said.

Toaff said in the interview that he believes Jewish converts to Christianity spoke about these liturgies and helped spark the "blood libel" accusations.

Toaff's work looks mostly at "blood libel" stories in northeastern Italy, focusing on the 1475 death of a 2-year-old called Simon in the town of Trento. Many court documents on the case survive.

After Simon's body was found around Easter in a canal near a Jewish home, all members of the tiny Jewish community of German descent were arrested, including women and children. Nine Jews who signed confessions after weeks of torture were tried and burned on the stake or beheaded.

Simon was canonized a century later but was removed from the list of saints and his cult banned in 1965 after a Church investigation concluded that the Jews were innocent.

The 65-year-old Toaff, a rabbi himself who holds dual Italian and Israeli citizenship, claimed that he hadn't considered the book's "possible exploitation" by those wishing to reopen the debate on "blood libel."

"I wanted to see how the Jews felt in this climate of hatred," he said.

While medieval Jewish texts containing disparaging remarks about Jesus and Christians have long been known to scholars, it is unscientific to use the Trento confessions as proof of widespread hatred, said Anna Foa, a modern history professor at Rome's La Sapienza University who has read Toaff's book.

"They used formulas in Hebrew only because they had to give the judges something plausible," Foa, who has written books on the trials of witches, Jews and heretics, told the AP. "You cannot reconstruct the image the Jews had of the world based on what they said to the Inquisition."

Monsignor Iginio Rogger, a church historian who in the 1960s led the investigation into Simon's case, said many scholars have concurred that the confessions were completely unreliable.

"I wouldn't want to be in (Toaff's) shoes, answering for this to historians who have seriously documented this case," he said. "The judges used horrible tortures, to the point where the accused pleaded: 'Tell us what you want us to say."'

 

 



A blood-stained version of history

By Roni Weinstein

Israeli paper Ha´aretz, 01/03/2007

"Pasque di sangue" ("Bloody Passovers") by Ariel Toaff, Bologna: Il Mulino, 2007

 

On the cover of "Pasque di sangue" by Ariel Toaff is an illustration showing an old, bearded patriarch clutching a knife, about to use it to slaughter a small boy. Beside him looms a pillar of fire with an angel hovering overhead, observing the events on earth with visible worry. There is no indication on the cover of where the illustration comes from, or any explanation of what it depicts. A reader unfamiliar with medieval art could easily mistake it for a picture of a Christian child being murdered by a rabbi. Only after careful perusal of the book does one discover that it is an illustration from a "Jewish" text, and it depicts a biblical scene - the sacrifice of Isaac.

This illustration appears again in the book (figure 15), but this time it includes the ram that becomes a substitute for Isaac, which makes it identifiable as an episode from the Bible. On the cover, the ram is missing. Maybe this is nitpicking, but a book jacket is one's first encounter with the book and is meant to convey the spirit of the text. And that indeed is the spirit of Toaff's new book, which has already kicked up a storm and been pulled off the shelves: veiled hints, half-truths, and misuse of intriguing sources and important testimony.

In the opening chapter, Toaff sets out the major research goals of the book. Until today, he claims, historians have avoided serious and honest study of Inquisition and court documents pertaining to cases in which Jews were accused of ritual murder of Christian children. These murders were ostensibly carried out with the object of mocking Christianity. At a later stage, it was claimed that the Jews used blood obtained this way for Passover preparations and magical cures, to stop bleeding in general, and especially hemorrhaging in circumcised babies.

Toaff claims that this material was not simply overlooked. He insists that apologists and intellectual lightweights deliberately turned a blind eye because the truth was too painful. He finds further confirmation for his theories in the testimony of Jewish apostates. Toaff is aware of that this testimony is biased, in particular the confessions extracted under cruel torture, when suspects broke down and gave the Inquisitors the "truth" they wanted. In order to get around this problem, Toaff offers a double methodological solution.

Influenced by historian Carlo Ginzburg, whom he quotes briefly, he says that court testimony outside the cultural world of the (Christian) interrogator, all the more so a milieu that is strange and unfamiliar to him, may be drawn upon as reliable evidence of the religious and cultural beliefs of the person under interrogation. To complete the picture, one needs to establish which components in the culture (in this case, Jewish) make the charges credible, or worthy of serious investigation. In this way, both the interrogator and the interrogated are on the same plane, and both the torturer and the victim supply the historian with testimony that is equally credible.

To back up his argument that Jewish culture provided the impetus for accusations of ritual murder, Toaff cites the research of Yisrael Yovel, "who bases himself on the thought-provoking and pioneering work of Cecil Roth." Yovel sees a relationship between the blood accusations and the cases of suicide and murder of children in the Jewish community of Germany during the First Crusade. In other words, blood libels originated in the deviant behavior of the Jews, and the Christians' misinterpretation of these acts. In the German towns where Jews were massacred, there were acts of collective suicide and infanticide from which the non-Jews concluded that if Jews could do this to their own offspring, they were certainly capable of doing it to innocent Christian children (this is a circumstantial argument that does not appear in any explicit form in sources from those days).

There is a critical difference, however: Yovel never claimed, as Toaff does, that the Jews participated in the killing of Christian children for ritual purposes. He says that blood accusations originated in German society and anti-Jewish stereotypes spread throughout the Catholic world from there.

What concrete evidence does Toaff bring? While the book offers nothing new in the way of documentation or archival material, Toaff's "contribution" is a new interpretation. His theories mainly revolve around the trial of the Jews of Trent, a town in northern Italy, who were accused of murdering a boy named Simonino in 1475. Soon after the murder, the town declared the boy a local martyr, and he went on to become a pan-Italian saint.

A large number of documents related to the investigation and trial of these Jews has survived. A scholarly edition of these documents was published, with the addition of an important introduction by two Italian historians, Diego Quaglioni and Anna Esposito, that provides scholars with a wealth of material for fascinating studies on Jewish-Italian and Italian dialects, folklore and local customs, artwork inspired by these events, and the inauguration of saints.

The trouble is that Toaff uses the testimony from this trial, even confessions extracted by torture and violence, as authentic evidence of Jewish life. Nowhere in the book does he subject this data to historical scrutiny. In consequence, the first chapters are full of unequivocal statements about how the Jews caught young Christians, hid them and finally murdered them to drain their blood. A look at the footnotes reveals that Toaff consistently relies on literal translations of trial transcripts from Latin to Italian, as if records of this type were the honest truth. Adopting such an approach means the historian is not free to add commentary of his own or question the data.

Free of bias?

Quaglioni and Esposito have written in the Italian press about how "shocked and incredulous" they were to read Toaff's interpretation of the affair. Pope Sixtus IV, for example, sent a special delegate to rebuke the local bishop for using excessive force in interrogations and gravely deviating from proper judicial practice, but Toaff hardly relates to this.

Were the judges in Trent free of bias? This question might be asked, first and foremost, about the man who ordered the trial - Prince-bishop Hinderbach, who brought anti-Semitic stereotypes with him from his native Germany, including the idea that Jews kill Christians and collect their blood. Hinderbach describes how starving German soldiers were reduced to eating dogs and rats during the war, and how they did not even balk at eating the flesh of Jews. The implication is that even before the trial, there was a link between violence, religious fundamentalism and cannibalism in the minds of people in northern Europe, and it goes without saying, the judges and interrogators in Trent.

What is important here is not only Hinderbach's personal outlook, but the fact that anti-Jewish myths were already entrenched at this point in time. Looking back, there was already a long line of incidents, from the William of Norwich affair in 1144 and the publication of the first hagiographic treatise in which a Christian baby allegedly killed by the Jews was declared a saint, to a whole host of blood accusations in England, France and Germany. So by the second half of the 15th century, when the Trent trial took place, anti-Semitic myths were firmly rooted in Europe, and the judges knew very well how to go about constructing a ritual murder case.

Toaff finds further backing for his claim in the testimony of baptized Jews called to the witness stand in Trent and elsewhere. These statements were particularly colorful and full of detail, complete with dates and references to well-known figures in the Jewish communities of northern Italy and Germany. Although the relationship between the Jewish community and converts to Catholicism was extremely sensitive in medieval and early modern times, not all converts were in the same category. Not all of them acted out of hatred and hostility toward their former co-religionists. Clearly, though, the ones whose testimony Toaff cites are among the most vicious. Two of them were particularly active in anti-Jewish propaganda and played a major role in the burning of the Talmud in 13th century (Provence) and 16th century (Italy). Other converts to Christianity cited in the book wrote and carried out their missionary work long after the Trent trial.

The anti-Jewish invective of figures like Benedetto Bonelli (whose book Toaff calls "a serious scholarly work"), Paul Sebastian Medici and Julio Morosini is explored in a fascinating study recently published by Marina Capiero, which probes how the Church pressured the Jews of Rome to convert in the 17th and 18th centuries. The strategies included breaking up families, kidnapping young boys, and baptizing small children who got lost in the street.

These Christian converts, some of them educated in Catholic theological seminaries, played a central role in the campaign of hostility and violence toward the Jews. Others, less well known, provided the Spanish theologian Alonso de Espina, with "inside" information, which he used in "Fortress of Faith," a book that contributed to the spread of blood libels all across Europe.

'Between the worlds'

The importance of these converts in the judicial process cannot be emphasized enough: They were the ones who supplied the most sensational details, but also the most concrete. These were people who lived "between the worlds," and were thus highly sensitive to what their new milieu would want to hear. But none of this rates so much as a mention in Toaff's book.

The second axis of the book is the Jewish "contribution" to the accusations of ritual murder. Toaff does not bring a single, documented case outside the non-Jewish court system. His argument is that such accusations fit in with the culture of "the fundamentalist circles of Ashkenazi Orthodoxy" in the late Middle Ages. The use of terms like "fundamentalism" and "Orthodoxy" in connection with medieval Jewry is surprising, but obviously connected to modern day fears of religiosity and the threat that fundamentalism poses to the liberal lifestyle. Toaff offers no scholarly explanation for such terminology. Nor does he delve deeper into the disturbing phenomenon of mass suicide and infanticide in the Jewish communities of the Rhine valley during the First Crusade (1096), or the encounter with movements preaching social or religious rebellion that took out their aggression on the Jewish minority. Instead of historical explanation, Toaff passes moral judgment on Ashkenazi Jewish society, with its urge for revenge on its Christian tormentors.

Earlier studies have shown that the experience of pogroms did leave Ashkenazi Jewish society in the Middle Ages more attuned to rituals of blood, death, suffering and revenge, which reached a peak with Passover and the seder. The blood of circumcision (symbolizing the pact between God and Israel), the blood of the lamb sacrificed on Passover, the blood of Ashkenazi martyrs - all these were linked in the minds of medieval Jews and served as a mental outlet for their anger at the outside world. Some of the major components of the Ashkenazi Passover ceremony mimicked or mocked Christian rituals and Christian theology, especially the crucifixion of Jesus as crucial for salvation. Curses against the Christians were added, as well as "inverted" rituals that poked fun at Christian rites.

Toaff claims that all of this points to active hostility toward the Christian world. One small psychological step, and it becomes "possible" for the Jews to use Christian blood in their rituals. Possibility and likelihood are all very well, but where are the facts? A historian who spends all his time speculating on what sounds likely or might have happened, rather than examining what did happen, effectively eliminates any chance for serious scholarly debate.

But blood, it is worth noting, was not just a symbol of protest against the Christians in Ashkenazi Jewish counter-culture. It was also a major component in magic and the occult, in both Jewish and non-Jewish society. Evidence for this can be found in a wide variety of sources from different periods and geographical regions. Toaff does not explain how books of folk remedies and Jewish customs became sorcery manuals, but he quotes from them as if they contain truths about practices that were widespread among the Jews.

In fact, the issue is more complicated than it appears in this book. The perception of blood as helpful in healing and preserving the body's youthfulness and vitality was not limited to "primitive" sectors in Italian society, nor was it the private preserve of witches and healers. Interesting discussions on this topic can be found in "The Book of Life" by Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), one of the leading humanist philosophers in Florence. Should we conclude from this that the humanists committed ritual murder, without need for further documentation?

If Toaff's book contains any contribution, it may be in the second half, although, again, Toaff dwells solely on the truthfulness of the ritual murder accusations, without exploring the role of the occult in Ashkenazi society. The book offers several intriguing and valuable testimonies that simply cannot be ignored about human fascination with the power of blood (wisely including a reference to Piero Camporesi's disturbing but gripping book "Juice of Life: The Symbolic and Magic Significance of Blood").

"Sefer Hahasidim," a compilation of writing by several 11th and 12 century authors and a showcase of Ashkenazi Jewish culture in the Middle Ages, is packed with magical beliefs that are clearly derived from Germanic culture, some of it even pre-Christian. Researchers of Ashkenazi culture have been strangely hesitant to enter this minefield and claim that magic and demons played a part in the world of Ashkenazi Jewry. Toaff's book does it.

A final comment on the response of Italian scholars to Toaff's book: All the leading historians specializing in the Inquisition, Jews, conversion and Judeo-Christian relations in Italy have fiercely attacked the book. The author's decision to halt book sales (after the first edition sold out) has sparked criticism of another kind. So now, instead of a scholarly debate on the issues raised in the book itself, historians must ponder the question of whether the academic community is guilty of lynching Toaff, and whether academic discourse and freedom of research have their limits.

 

Dr. Roni Weinstein is a research fellow at the University of Pisa and a researcher of Italian Jewry in modern times.

 


 


"When a Jew, in America or in South Africa, talks to his Jewish companions about 'our' government, he means the government of Israel."

- David Ben-Gurion, Israeli Prime Minister


Palestine banner
Viva Palestina!

Latest Additions - in English

What is this Jewish carnage really about? - The background to atrocities

Videos on Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam and Blacks and Jews 

How Jewish Films and Television Promotes bias Against Muslims

Judaism is Nobody's Friend
Judaism is the Jews' strategy to dominate non-Jews.

Islam and Revolution
By Ahmed Rami

Jewish Manipulation of World Leaders - Photos

Elie Wiesel - A Prominent False Witness
By Robert Faurisson

The Gaza atrocity 2008-2009


Iraq under Jewish occupation
Iraq - war and occupation


Jewish War against Lebanon!

Jew Goldstone appointed by UN to investigate War Crimes in Gaza

Hasbara - The Jewish manual for media deceptions

Britain under Jewish occupation!


Jewish World Power
West Europe    East Europe
Americas          Asia
Middle East       Africa
      U.N.              E.U.

 

The Internet and Israeli-Jewish infiltration/manipulations

Books - Important collection of titles

The Power of Jews in France

The Israel Lobby - From the book

Jews and Crime  - The archive!

When Jews rule...
The best book on Jewish Power


Sayanim - Israel's and Mossad's Jewish helpers abroad

Listen to Louis Farrakhan's Speech - A must hear!

The Israeli Nuclear Threat

The "Six Million" Myth

Jewish "Religion" - What is it?

Medias in the hands of racists

Strauss-Kahn - IMF chief and member of Israel lobby group

Down with Zio-Apartheid
StopJewish Apartheid!