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The pattern of enabling Arab antisemitism is the same today as it was in 1840

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In February 1840, Capuchin friar Thomas and his Muslim servant disappeared, and the Capuchins claimed that Jews had murdered both men to use their blood for Passover. With the cooperation of the French consul (Catholics in Syria were under French protection at that time), local authorities fabricated evidence and obtained confessions by torturing and killing Jews and by kidnapping 63 Jewish children. The incident was reported internationally, and most of the press presented the unproven accusations as facts. Innocent Jews were held in captivity until August when they were released due to pressure from the West, particularly Western Jews. Despite the official withdrawal of the accusations, many Syrian Christians continued to repeat them and claimed that the Jews were freed only due to international Jewish influence. Several books were written to perpetuate the antisemitic accusations. In addition to the local Jewish victims, this incident was used as an excuse for more antisemitism internationally and made Jews everywhere increasingly afraid for their own safety. This historical event is referred to as the Damascus Blood Libel.

The most direct reason why this libel is still relevant today is that the lie is still being repeated in the Arab world. As written in the Jewish Virtual Library, “The idea that the ritual charge had been authenticated conclusively in Damascus in 1840 is repeated from time to time in Arabic-language media and by diplomats representing various Arab states. The tomb (allegedly) housing Father Thomas’ remains still stands in the Franciscan Terra Sancta church in Damascus and carries the statement that he was murdered by the Jews on February 5, 1840”. As an example, in 1986, Syrian Defense Minister Mustapha Tlass wrote a book called “The Matzah of Zion” that repeated the unfounded accusations, and the book appeared in 2021 in Saudi Arabia in the largest book fair in Saudi history (together with several other antisemitic books such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Mein Kampf), under the........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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