Major Jewish Group ‘Appalled’ by Russian Bishop’s Blood Libel Accusation
A leading Jewish group registered its disgust on Thursday after a Russian bishop claimed that the Romanov family was killed by Jews in an act of “ritual” murder.
Father Tikhon Shevkunov, who heads a commission investigating the 1918 assassination of Czar Nicholas II and other members of the Romanov family by the Bolshevik party after the 1917 revolution, said that “a significant part of the church commission has no doubt that this murder was ritual.”
Responding to his remarks, made at a conference on the issue, the American Jewish Committee said it was “appalled.”
In a statement, AJC CEO David Harris said, “The ritual murder charge, coming from a Russian Orthodox priest, gives undeserved credence to a core antisemitism myth long propagated by fringe elements in Russian society, and, more generally, fits into the incendiary conspiracy theories connecting Jews to every calamity known to humankind.”
He noted Russia’s long history of antisemitism, saying, “The history of antisemitism in Russia is long and painful, with dangerous and harmful repercussions.”
Harris called the blood libel claim “pure slander” and said it “should be condemned unequivocally by both church leaders and the Russian government.”
The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia also condemned Shevkunov’s statement as a “shocking expression of an anti-Semitic myth” and “absolutely unacceptable.”
According to the Moscow Times, the group’s chief Alexander Boroda added, “The accusation of Jews in the ritual murder is one of the most ancient antisemitic slanders.”
Spokesman Boruch Gorin expressed concern that the claim could result in a resurgence in Russian antisemitism. “If the government doesn’t strongly denounce this, then it shows that at any moment antisemitic propaganda can come back into full force like during the late 1970s in the Soviet Union,” he said. “This can blow up antisemitism very forcefully.”
The Federation was joined in its protest by the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress.
The Moscow Times also noted that Shevkunov is “widely rumored to be President Vladimir Putin’s spiritual advisor.”
Claims that the Jews were behind communism and the Bolshevik takeover and therefore collectively responsible for the resulting atrocities has been typical of modern antisemitism for much of the past century.