Posts Tagged ‘blood libel’

Beyond the Palin

Posted in General on January 13th, 2011 by Eugene Finerman – 8 Comments

As you probably guessed, I have been tutoring Sarah Palin in medieval history.  You can now expect her to make erudite but casual references to Eleanor of Aquitaine, Thomas Aquinas and the Byzantine Empire. Of course, you have heard and read of her use the term “blood libel.”  Yes, I should take a bow.  

Ms. Palin had been unaware of the canard that Jews murdered young Christian children to improve the taste of matzoh–as if anything could.  Given her encounters with William Kristol and Ben Stein, she assumed that Jews only slobbered over Christian women.  (And but for the dry cleaning, she was quite flattered.)  Through the Middle Ages whenever a child died suddenly or simply disappeared, it had to be a Jewish recipe.  With the expulsion of the Jews from Britain in 1291, apparently no English child fell down a well ever again.   In the 16th century, Martin Luther added some variety to the blood libel by accusing the Jews of being vampires.  At the time, it was not meant as a compliment to our sensuous mystique.  But Luther had a bad word for everyone, and his Anti-Semitism did not incite violence; just four centuries of exclusion from country clubs.

Indeed, thanks to the Reformation, and Catholics and Protestants preoccupied with killing each other, Western Europe became somewhat safer for Jews.  However, Eastern Europe now was catching up with Anti-Semitism.  The blood libel, and its ensuing massacres, were still common in the early 20th century.  It is surprising that Tsarist Russia never issued a celebratory postage stamp:  Go Pogroms!  And today the Arab World is disseminating the blood libel, although the recipe has been changed to young Moslem children.  Evidently, when it comes to inciting Anti-Semitism, that age-old lie is more effective than “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”   

Of course, I had to explain this to Ms. Palin in terms that she would understand.  Medievel means media evil, and the blood libel referred to the New York Times’ recipe to turn her into quiche.

p.s.  And here is the Spanish example of blood libel: