Friday, February 09, 2007

Shocking assertion of the day

"Did Jews Drink Blood? According to a new book by history professor Ariel Toaff, [a small community of] medieval Jews not only sacrificed Christian children, they also used their blood as an ingredient in baking matzo." According to a review cited by JPOST, the book further claims that "a minority of fundamentalist Ashkenazis...carried out human sacrifices" and that there were Jewish black markets in human blood.

Let's get a few things straight: (1) People do weird and crazy things. You can imagine a minority doing just about anything -- especially in Medieval times. (2) Until the beginning of the 20th century Catholic Europeans were utterly convinced that Jews were bloodsuckers - and not just the hamon am: the elite, and the educated, too, were deeply in the grips of this crazy idea. The church formally endorsed it, and sent expert witnesses to blood libel trials. Where did this madness start? Could a vestigial memory of a crazy, isolated, insane practice be the answer? Maybe. (3) The book, to a large part, is based on confessions extracted via torture. Dick Cheney may think such statements have value; the rest of us have legitimate doubts. (4) A minority of "fundamentalist Ashkenazis" may have once murdered children for their blood; in our day a minority of fundamentalist Satmar break bread with Jew hating lunatics. Neither the Ashkenazis of yesteryear or the Satmars of our day should be considered representatives of mainstream Jewish practice and thought.

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