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How the Pro-Hamas Campus Protests Are the Latest Version of the Blood Libel

Pro-Hamas protesters outside Hamilton Hall barricading students inside the building at Columbia University, despite an order to disband the protest encampment supporting Palestinians or face suspension, during the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in New York City, US, April 30, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs

Of the analytical frameworks into which to fit the eruption of anti-Israel protests on college campuses, there is no shortage. There’s the “free speech on campus” concept, the Arab-Israeli conflict paradigm, the lawless-university-radicals-of-the-1960s pattern.

The framework that fits the situation most neatly, though, is one that hasn’t been elaborated much. That is the “blood libel,” which a six-page entry in the Encyclopaedia Judaica defines as “the allegation that Jews murder non-Jews, especially Christians, in order to obtain blood for Passover or other rituals.”

The Encyclopaedia Judaica also calls it “a complex of deliberate lies, trumped-up accusations, and popular beliefs about the murder-lust of the Jews and their bloodthirstiness.” The Judaica traces the origin of the story all the way back to Apion, an Egyptian who lived during the first century of the Common Era.

The historian Josephus writes in “Against Apion” that this claim that Jews deliberately sacrificed a non-Jew is “a most tragical fable … full of nothing but cruelty and impudence” and motivated by “an extravagant love of lying.” Josephus, writing in about 100 CE, calls Apion’s tale “a voluntary lie” that operated “to the delusion of those who will not examine into the truth of matters.”

Two thousand or so years later, we’re at it all over again, with the Jews yet again facing a Passover-season lie about deliberately killing non-Jews. So, at Columbia University, the anti-Israel mob renamed Hamilton Hall as “Hind’s Hall,” after a six-year-old Palestinian girl, Hind Rajab, who Israel has been blamed without evidence for killing.

To anyone who knows history, an Easter or Passover-season tale of Jews intentionally killing a child is familiar. The Encyclopaedia Judaica gives the places and dates: Norwich, 1144; Gloucester, England, 1168; Blois, France, 1171; Saragossa, Spain, 1182; Trent, Italy, 1475; Lublin, 1636.

By setting up the pro-Hamas university encampments on the first day of Passover, the anti-Israel protesters provided useful clarity that their false accusations of “genocide” against Israel fell squarely within this age-old tradition of groundlessly accusing Jews of using the blood of Christian children to bake matzo. The protesters also help by making explicit references to “blood.” The Students for Justice in Palestine chapter at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, for example, advertised a series of events with a social media post headlined, “Palestinian blood is on Israel’s hands.”

Elisha Wiesel, son of Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, writes that his father would ask, “Where are the history lessons on the blood libel, the historical precedent for accusing Jews of murder?”

The Encyclopaedia Judaica entry is by Haim Hillel Ben-Sasson, a professor of history who taught at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The entry ends with a reference to an essay by Ahad Ha’am, who lived between 1856 and 1927 and was a champion of cultural Zionism.

That essay, “Some Consolation,” was written in Hebrew in 1892. It was brought out in English translation by Leon Simon in 1912 by the Jewish Publication Society, as part of a collection of selected essays by Ha’am. The essay contemplates the possibility that, just as on today’s campuses, some individuals of Jewish background will side with the enemies.

“Since everybody hates the Jews, can we think that everybody is wrong, and the Jews are right?” he quotes a Russian writer as asking. “There are many among us Jews on whom a similar question half-unconsciously forces itself. Can we think, they ask, that all the vicious characteristics and evil practices which the whole world ascribes to the Jews are sheer imagination?”

Ha’am writes that the “useful lesson” of such a baldly false accusation is that it may strengthen Jewish confidence and prevent unwarranted guilt.

“There is nothing more dangerous for a nation or for an individual to plead guilty to imaginary sins,” he says. “Where the sin is real, there is opportunity for repentance; by honest endeavor the sinner may purify himself. But when a man has been persuaded to suspect himself unjustly, how can he get rid of his consciousness of guilt?”

The blood-libel accusation, he writes, “is the solitary case in which the general acceptance of an idea about ourselves does not make us doubt whether all the world can be wrong, and we right, because it is based on an absolute lie.”

He adds, “This will make it easier for us to get rid of the tendency to bow to the authority of ‘everybody’ in other matters.”

Today, the Jews aren’t entirely alone; we are blessed with many allies. Yet it can sometimes, in the media or on campuses or at the United Nations, feel again like everybody is against us. That does not make the accusations true.

Ha’am wrote: “‘But’ — you ask — ‘is it possible that everybody can be wrong, and the Jews right?’”

And here is how the Encyclopaedia Judaica entry on “blood libel” by Ben-Sasson concludes, quoting the Ha’am essay in words that ring as true today as in 1892: “Yes, it is possible: the blood accusation proves it possible. Here, you see, the Jews are right and perfectly innocent.”

Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. His media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

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OCAD University student is seeking $1M in damages—alleging a lack of protection from threats and abuse

Samantha Kline, 22, presented photos of antisemitic graffiti she says targeted her.

The post OCAD University student is seeking $1M in damages—alleging a lack of protection from threats and abuse appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad Releases New Propaganda Video of Israeli Hostage

Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov as seen in a propaganda video released by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Photo: Screenshot

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group on Tuesday released a short propaganda video featuring Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov, 28, who was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists during Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

The 30-second undated video shows Trufanov, an Amazon employee, identifying himself and saying that he will soon discuss what has happened to him and other hostages in Gaza.

Similar videos have been released by terrorists groups in Gaza. Israel has lambasted them as psychological warfare.

Trufanov’s mother said in a video released by the family that she was happy to see her son after all this time, but “it was heartbreaking” that he had been a hostage for so long.

Trufanov was an engineer at the Israeli microelectronics company Annapurna Labs, which Amazon owns.

Hamas-led Palestinian terrorists abducted over 250 people during their Oct. 7 onslaught. Trufanov was kidnapped alongside his mother, grandmother, and girlfriend.

All three were released as part of a temporary ceasefire agreement negotiated in November. His father, Vitaly Trufanov, was one of the 1,200 people killed during the Hamas massacre.

“The proof of life from Alexsander (Sasha) Trufanov is additional evidence that the Israeli government must give a significant mandate to the negotiating team,” the Hostages Families Forum, which represents the families of the hostages, said in a statement.

More than 120 hostages remain in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas. Islamic Jihad is a separate but allied terrorist organization in the Palestinian enclave. Both are backed by Iran, which provides them with money, weapons, and training.

Negotiations brokered by Qatar, Egypt, and the US to reach a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas in Gaza have been stalled for weeks.

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Gal Gadot’s Action Movie Nabs Second Place on Netflix List of Most Watched Films in Second Half of 2023

Gal Gadot as Rachel Stone in a scene from the trailer for “Heart of Stone.” Photo: YouTube screenshot

Netflix released its engagement report that details the films with the most views from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2023, and Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s action thriller Heart of Stone secured the number two spot with 109.6 million views.

The film — starring Gadot alongside Jamie Dornan and Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt in leading roles — was the runner-up to Leave the World Behind, the drama starring Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, and Ethan Hawke that garnered 121 million views on Netflix.

Heart of Stone, directed by Tom Harper, was released on the streaming giant on Aug. 11 of last year. The action film is about international intelligence operative Rachel Stone, played by Gadot, who goes on a mission to protect an artificial intelligence system, known as The Heart, from falling in the wrong hands. The film was produced by Pilot Wave, a company founded by Gadot and her husband Jaron Varsano.

Gadot also stars in Netflix’s most popular film of all time, Red Notice, alongside Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds.

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