In the Middle Ages, anti-Jewish rumors periodically swept Christian Europe. In the 14th Century, European Christians widely believed that the Jews had caused outbreaks of Black Plague, by poisoning Christian wells. The fact that Jews also were dying from the Plague did nothing to dispel the charge, which led to massacres of Jewish communities and the expulsion of Jews from several cities and towns.
Another medieval anti-Jewish rumor was the infamous blood libel, the belief that Jews required blood drained from a Christian child in order to make their Passover matzah (see woodcut at left). In modern times, the blood libel re-appeared in Damascus in 1840, when members of the Jewish community were arrested, tortured and tried for the ritual murder of a missing Franciscan monk; and again in Czarist Russia in 1913, when a Ukranian Jew named Menachem Mendel Beilis was arrested and tried (and fortunately acquitted) of the ritual murder of a 13-year old Ukranian Christian child, allegedly to drain his blood for Passover matzah.
Often these incidents were used as a pretext for anti-Jewish pogroms and campaigns. During the Damascus blood libel, one of the accused Jews died from the effects of torture during his interrogation, and another felt compelled to convert to Islam to save his life.
Perhaps because the non-Jewish world was embarrassed by the excesses of Jew-hatred in the Holocaust, the phenomena of blood libels disappeared for the most part after World War II, surfacing occasionally in Arab media as part of their propaganda campaigns against Israel. The Syrian government produced a dramatic television series in 2003, based on the Czarist secret police forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which portrayed "Zionists" committing a ritual murder in order to obtain non-Jewish blood for baking Passover matzah. But outside of the the Arab world, manifestations of the blood libel have been rare.
Unfortunately, as reported at "Israel Behind the News," recent weeks have witnessed a resurgence in Europe of blood libels--now mostly directed at "Israel" and "Zionists" rather than at "Jews" generally. A Swedish newspaper has repeatedly published completely unsubstantiated stories that the Israel Defense Forces have collected and sold organs taken from murdered Palestinian Arabs. Of course, it was baseless accusations by shameless Palestinians that first gave rise to the stories, and now the stories in the Swedish newspaper are cited by the Palestinians as substantiation of their libel.
Israel Behind the News also reports:
This week, a leading journalist from Holland claimed that Jews are responsible for the recent outbreak of swine flu. Holland's largest daily, De Telegraaf, printed the allegations [that]the ongoing global flu pandemic was part of an international Jewish conspiracy to reduce the world's population, as were previous outbreaks of bird flu and other forms of flu.
And in Athens, for the past two months, leading figures of the government, media and labor unions of Greece have organized protests over Israel’s destruction of the Christian hospital in Gaza. There is no Christian hospital in Gaza.
These are the toxic fruits of the ugly, unrelenting campaign waged by the enemies of Israel.