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February 14, 2007

Jewish Professor Accused of "Blood Libel" For Suggesting That Ritual Murders Of Christians Really Did Occur During The Middle Ages

It's a bit too muddled to shout "Outrage!"

The professor claims to have been misunderstood, and that his thesis is more limited that his opponents would have it -- that he's saying some Jews engaged in vengeance killings against Christians (who, of course, had a history of killing them) and some of those killings were conducted in a ritualistic manner.

Which seems to me to be a reasonable guess. Pretty much if you tell me that any subgroup of any religion engaged in ritualistic murders at some point in history, I'm inclined to say, "Well, sure, of course they did."

The trouble comes with his evidence -- using torture-compelled "confessions" by Jews of drinking the blood of Christian babies, which hardly seems evidence at all -- and his title, "Bloody Passovers," strongly evoking the Blood Libel of Jews using the blood of Christian babies to make their Passover bread.

Going by the rule that if you're using very weak evidence, that must mean you have little strong evidence (or else why taint your strong evidence with crap "evidence"?), I'm going to call bullshit on the academic end of this book. I.e., I don't really strongly doubt stuff like this happened, but if you can't prove it, it's just a guess and you really shouldn't be publishing a supposedly rigorous academic treatise on the subject.

And it seems this guy is using the Blood Libel as evidence for his thesis -- the Blood Libel isn't being used to prove the Blood Libel per se, just being used to suggest "there must be some truth to these rumors and torture-compelled confessions," etc.

Seems like very sketchy ground.

Maybe he should have just used "ultra-sophisticated computer models" to prove his thesis, a la Global Warming.

The professor has asked his publisher to delay publication of the book, so that he can re-write and clarify the parts of the book accused of of spreading the Blood Libel.

This seems so out-of-line as to suggest bad motives. On the other hand, publish or perish -- and even if you run into a dead-end in your research, well, you still have to get a book out of all of that library work, huh?


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posted by Ace at 04:49 PM

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