The Return Of Blood Libel Claims

August 24th, 2014 § 0 comments

In a recent post, HG mentioned that Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan stood by his statement that Jews had historically used blood from murdered non-Jewish children for making their matzos. Oddly, this ridiculous claim of blood libel (hearkening back to medieval anti-semitic insanity) drew little outcry from the determinedly anti-Israel European (and American) intelligentsia and left. Mused HG: How little have we progressed in 100 years. It was in 1913, in Kiev, Russia, that Menahem Mendel Beilis, father of five and superintendent in a brick factory, went on trial for the murder of 13-year-old Andre Yuschistky. Beilis, who had been kept in prison for two years before the trial, was accused of killing the boy with a knife in order to obtain blood for use in making ritual matzos. The accusation and trial sparked outrages against Jews throughout Russia. At the trial, a principal witness was a priest who was an alleged expert on the Talmud and Jewish ritual practices. His testimony was so blatantly fraudulent and incompetent that he was the object of courtroom laughter. The press in the United States and other western countries condemned the trial as an example of Russian anti-Jewish policies. Beilis was acquitted and moved to Palestine. He expressed gratitude to a number of non-Jewish Russians who supported him–namely detective Nicolas Krasovsky (who discovered the true murderers of Yuschistky) and the eloquent journalist Brazul-Brushkovsky. In later life, Beilis moved to New York where he died in 1934. He is buried in the Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Queens. HG’s father is buried there as well as the author Sholem Aleichem (whose work inspired ‘Fiddler on the Roof’) and Leo Frank, a Jew who was lynched in Georgia after a spurious murder trial. Some 4,000 people jammed the Eldridge Street Synagogue and surrounding street for the Beilis memorial service (SJ’s Deadly Dragon reggae headquarters is close to the Synagogue). Bernard Malamud loosely based his novel The Fixer (It won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award) on the Beilis case. A work of imaginative fiction, the book angered Beilis’s descendants since the protagonist had little resemblance to the real life Beilis. Malamud’s letter of apology did not appease them.

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