From Black Death to Blood Libels, The Jews did it
"Jews should be slaves to Christians and at the same time treated kindly due of humanitarian considerations." Third Lateran Council, 1179, Canon 24
Part 7 in a continuing series representing a first draft of my book, Antisemitism and Jewish Survival: Zionism for the 21st century. Next week, The Year 1492: "Purity of Blood" and the Spanish Inquisition.
The plague known as the Black Death traveled from the orient to the Middle East and
Another anti-Jewish rumor involved a supposed cabal of rabbis that gathered in
Another myth that grew up in this period accused Jews of ritual murder of Christian boys. The myth usually involved the kidnapping of a pre-pubescent youth who would be tied or nailed to a cross in mockery of the Christian Eucharist. The child would suffer a wound similar to that delivered to Jesus on the cross, the blood then supposed to be used in the baking of Passover matzo.
Simon of Trent, supposedly murdered in this fashion in 1475, was canonized by Pope Sixtus V in 1588. A cult developed around Simon that survives to the present. Although officially disbanded in 1965 by Pope Paul VI, evidence of its continuation is available on Catholic organization internet sites.
Even today blood libel accusations continue to excite the imagination of some Christian communities. The most celebrated modern case involved a Russian Jew, Menahem Beilis, who was arrested on July 21, 1911 for the murder and mutilation of a Ukrainian youth. Acquitted after spending two years in jail, the peasant making the charge eventually admitted that his accusations were based on tutoring by the police.
And one year after the liberation of Auschwitz, of the more than 24,000 Jewish residents of pre-war Kielce, Poland, 200 survivors returned home only to be faced with a pogrom inspired by… a blood libel. Thirty-five were murdered, and two Jews who just happened to be on a train passing through the city were also murdered.
Most recent in this series, Antisemitism and Jewish Survival: