The Global Blood Libel Against Israel

April 6, 2012 12:17 pm 2 comments

Not only was the child pictured March 10 on Twitter not killed by Israel in recent fighting, as implied, but she was not killed by Israel at all. The picture was from 2006 and the girl died in an accident. Photo: Twitter

The blood libel–a false accusation that Jews murder non-Jewish children to use their blood for religious purposes—was a prominent theme in European persecution of Jews during the Middle Ages. But to this day, blood libels persist in the Arab media: headlining articles, inspiring political cartoons, and forming the storyline for comedy sketches and dramatic programming.

Today, Arab and Muslim leaders and media, along with many in the west, have expanded the blood libel to include the false charge that Israel murders Palestinian children. While in the past the blood libels have led to pogroms, the modern-day blood libel led directly to the recent tragedy in Toulouse, France.

When asked about what motivated Mohammed Merah to gun down Rabbi Yonatan Sandler, his 6-year-old son Aryeh, his 3-year-old son Gabriel, and 7-year-old Myriam Monsonego, Interior Minister Claude Guéant explained, “As regards the killing of the children at the Jewish school in Toulouse, he was very explicit. He said he wanted to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children.”

In the days leading up to the Toulouse massacre, a controversy was unfolding regarding a picture tweeted by Khulood Badawi, the information and media coordinator for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Jerusalem, on her Twitter feed “Long Live Palestine.” As rockets rained down on civilians in southern Israel, and the Jewish state sought to root out the terrorists launching them with surgical air strikes, on March 10 Badawi tweeted a photograph of a bloody girl with the comment, “Palestine is bleeding. Another child killed by #Israel. Another father carrying his child to a grave in #Gaza.” This became one of the top tweets for the search term #Gaza.

Not only was this child not killed by Israel in the recent fighting, as implied, she was not killed by Israel at all. The picture was from 2006 and the girl died in an accident. Badawi was previously disciplined by the UN in 2008 for leading a demonstration against Israel, calling Israeli politicians “war criminals” and accusing them of murdering children.

More recently, EU Foreign Minister, Baroness Catherine Ashton, spoke at a Palestinian youth conference. In her statement, Ashton lamented at length the suffering of children in Gaza but only made a glancing mention of Sderot, whose children live under the constant threat and frequent reality of rocket and missile attacks.

There can be no moral equivalence between innocent children deliberately murdered, as in Toulouse, and the unfortunate death of children who are accidentally killed by an army trying to protect its state’s civilians from terrorist attacks. No Palestinian children are ever intentionally killed by the Israel Defense Forces. In fact, Israel makes unmatched efforts to minimize civilian casualties in all its military operations, most of which must be undertaken to protect its own civilians from terrorist attacks.

Ashton makes no reference whatever to Daniel Viflic, a boy who died after his clearly marked, yellow school bus was hit by a laser-guided anti-tank missile fired from Gaza. She also does not mention that Hamas, which has full control of Gaza and is therefore responsible for the suffering of its inhabitants, brags about its killings, openly preaches genocide of Jews, and admits to using children and other civilians as human shields, which not only increases the likelihood of Palestinian civilian deaths, but is a war crime.

The “Jews murder children” theme recurs frequently in media coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict. On August 20, 2011, Reuters ran a story quoting a tweet from Amr Moussa, former Egyptian foreign minister and ex-Arab League chief, “Israel must be aware that the days when it kills our children without getting a strong, appropriate response are gone for ever.” Nowhere in the story did the reporter give an Israeli source the opportunity to refute the charge that Israel kills children.

In the last month, the media reported that Palestinian schoolboy Baraka al-Mughrabi died “of injuries from Israeli attacks.” In fact, the 7-year-old died as a result of guns fired into the air at a funeral. His own parents admitted this to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

False charges that Israel murders children are central to the pervasive demonization of Israel in the public sphere. When EU officials like Ashton participate, when UN officials like Badawi engage in it, when the UN Human Rights Commission invites a Hamas official to speak during its conference, defamation of the Jewish state achieves global status.

Unfortunately, instead of condemning the falsehoods, many influential public officials justify Islamic terrorism and violence as arising from legitimate grievances. In December, U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman attributed the beating of a Jewish girl in a Belgian school by Muslim schoolmates to “a tension and perhaps hatred largely born of and reflecting the tension between Israel, the Palestinian Territories and neighboring Arab states in the Middle East over the continuing Israeli-Palestinian problem.”

Innocent Jewish citizens and especially children continue to be endangered all around the world.  Just a week after the Toulouse massacre, two teenagers shouting anti-Semitic slurs attacked a 12-year-old Jewish boy on his way home from a Paris school. In addition, five bullet holes were found in a window of the Yitzhak Rabin music school in Paris.

Throughout history, demonization of ethnic and religious groups has preceded genocides and mass killings. And yet, the media completely ignore this modern blood libel as they ignore the incitement to hatred by Arab leaders and officials. Instead, many news outlets actually abet the slander: printing false, misleading and unbalanced articles, headlines and photographs, and waging on their editorial pages what could easily be described as a hate campaign against Israel.

Sari Katz is the International Letter-Writing Director of CAMERA, the 65,000-member, Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

2 Comments

  • It is interesting how Catherine Ashton echoed the same sentiments as Mohammad Merah. The focal point in the pro-Palestinian movement is the killing of Palestinian children. The number of children killed in Gaza (a figure based on numbers refuted by Hamas themselves when challenged in Spetember 2010) is an extremely common refrain. In Ireland during the 2009 EU referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, the IPSC movement put up huge posters about the killing of children throughout the country even though it had nothing at all to do with Israel.

    It is pretty comical for the murderer of a three-year old to talk about the death of Palestinian children when they are radicalised by Palestinian society and repeatedly put in harms way. The less fortunate ones have bombs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPU4UN03t7E strapped to their bodies. The luckier ones get sweets from Hamas when Jewish children are butchered.

  • I saw this photo in 2008 as the top Google image search result for “people who smile a lot” for an eight year old to use for a school project, the caption read “Israelis kill a lot of Arab children.” My response last month “15 Real Photos of Arab girls” http://rjstreets.com/2012/03/13/15-real-photos-of-arab-girls/ is still going in Arab countries and has over 13,000 views. Can we make a difference with the media eager to spread falsehoods?

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Opinion Robert Gates’ Memoir is a Jaw-Dropping Read (REVIEW)

    Robert Gates’ Memoir is a Jaw-Dropping Read (REVIEW)

    Former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates’s memoir follows the classic form, telling the story of his years at the Pentagon during the Bush and Obama administrations. He focuses on what he did and experienced personally as secretary, neither writing a broad policy treatise nor recounting the entire history of the administrations in which he served. In so doing, Gates provides penetrating insights about the inner workings of US national security decision-making. Had I been George W. Bush, I would [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews The Media, Israel, and Anti-Semitism (REVIEW)

    The Media, Israel, and Anti-Semitism (REVIEW)

    Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed from A-Z by Lee Bender and Jerome Verlin (Pavilion Press, Philadelphia, Pa. 2013) Sophocles said, “What people believe prevails over truth,” Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed from A-Z is ideal for the arm chair reader who would like a basic grasp of the terms used in the mainstream media’s presentation of the Arab-Israeli situation as is reported today. This is a book whose time has come. This is a book where the reader gains a [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs William Shatner’s One Man Show Keeps Him in the Limelight (INTERVIEW)

    William Shatner’s One Man Show Keeps Him in the Limelight (INTERVIEW)

    JNS.org – On Thursday, audiences around the country can feel what it is like to be William Shatner, the Jewish actor best known for his portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk on “Star Trek.” Shatner’s one-man show “Shatner’s World”—which was on Broadway and toured Canada, Australia, and the United States—will be presented in nearly 700 movie theaters nationwide for one night only on April 24. Sponsored by Fathom Events and Priceline.com (for whom Shatner has famously served as a pitchman), [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews The Origins of Palestinian Refugee Relief Efforts (REVIEW)

    The Origins of Palestinian Refugee Relief Efforts (REVIEW)

    Romirowsky and Joffe’s book Religion, Politics and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief is an important volume for those interested in truly understanding the origins of the Palestinian refugee issue. Utilizing a treasure trove of newly released documents, the authors link UNRWA’s (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine) origins to the Quakers/American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). For those readers who thought they knew most of the Middle East story, Romirowsky and Joffe’s version provides another twist. The authors meticulously [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    The Israel National soccer team could be facing a World Cup ban, and other soccer sanctions, unless it alleviates travel restrictions and increases field access for Palestinian players and coaches. The head of the Palestinian Football Association is pushing for international soccer’s governing body, the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), to issue a ban on Israel competing internationally, claiming Israel’s restrictive travel for Palestinians is equivalent to a form of oppression. “It’s not only the athletes,” Jibril Rajoub explains. [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    JNS.org – While the national debate on “Obamacare” rages on past the recent March 31 sign-up deadline, bestselling Jewish author Dr. Joel Fuhrman says the “current disease care model of what we call ‘health care’ cannot possibly be sustained.” “There is simply not enough money available to support a system in which the lion’s share of expenditures is devoted to acute care, with virtually nothing being spent on preventive medicine, i.e. health care,” Fuhrman says in an interview. “To make [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    JNS.org – “This is how I want to be—without fear. Independent. I want to be like a bird. I want to spread my wings.” So reads part of the description beneath one of the 30 paintings on display until the end of May at the ZOA House in Tel Aviv. The collection represents the first-ever art exhibit of its kind: an exhibit created entirely by Israelis in treatment for eating disorders. Dubbed “Tears of Color,” based on one of the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    JNS.org – Rachel Ament noticed that she and her friends often shared humorous anecdotes that were typically variations on a theme: overprotective, worrying Jewish moms who smothered them with love. That included Ament’s own mother. “My mom is probably every Jewish stereotype scrunched into one,” the Washington, DC, resident tells JNS.org. “At the root of all these stereotypical, worrying, overprotective moms, is love.” A social media writer for Capital One, as well as a freelance writer, Ament decided about three years [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.