Better Understanding Commission Issues Statement on Massena Tale

A statement condemning the ritual murder libel in Massena was issued by the Permanent Commission on Better Understanding between Christians and Jews in America. The statement read:

“Fellow Americans: Were it not for the far-reaching menace implied in the blood-ritual accusation against the Jews, raised for the first time on American soil, this barbarous charge would not merit the dignity of a public statement by the Permanent Commission on Better Understanding Between Christians and Jews in America. However, the history of persecution resulting from religious canards proves that, once started, these false rumors swiftly spread and are virtually impossible of extirpation. Only last month this hideous blood accusation raised its head in Germany, Poland and Jugo-Slavia.

“The incident which occurred in the village of Massena, New York, on the eve of the Day of Atonement, September 23rd, when the heads of the Jewish congregation were interrogated concerning what proved to be the temporary disappearance of a four-year-old Christian girl, as if there might be some relation between her disappearance and the alleged blood-ritual practice, moves this Commission, representing Protestants, Catholics and Jews to declare this ageold accusation to be false. It is, moreover, cruel and unconscionable–an abhorrent fiction, calculated to transplant into American minds a long-refuted mediaeval libel that has been the cause of untold suffering and repeated ats o bloodshed in the Old World.

“Since the twelfth century, Jews in various countries of Europe have been accused of using Christian blood for ritual purposes; and to obtain this blood, to commit assault upon and even to murder Christian chlidren for that purpose. More than one hundred and thirty such accusations are recorded since the year 1144; in each case the accusation was incontrovertibly proved to have been falsely conceived and maliciously spread. So horrible and monstrous is this charge that the best minds of all ages and creeds, including Popes founders of the Reformation and statesmen, have denounced it and publicly warned against its further dissemination.

“As late as 1840, fifty-eight Jewish converts to Christianity, headed by the Bishop of the Anglican Church at Jerusalem, solemnly protested that ‘we have never directly or indirectly heard, much less known, among the Jews of., the practice of killing Christians or using Christian blood, and we believe this charge, so ofter brought against them formerly and now lately revived, to be a foul and Satanic falsehood.’

“Emperors, too, were outraged at this accusation, and Frederick the Great of Germany exonerated the Jews ‘from the grave crime with which they have been charged,’ declaring ‘the Jews of Germany clear from all suspicion.’

“The Permanent Commission on Better Understanding Between Christians and Jews in America, supported by most thorough and authoritative investigation on the part of Protestant, Catholic and Jewish scholars, solemnly affirm that the blood accusation is a cruel and utterly baseless libel on Judaism; that there is no custom, ceremony or ritual among Jews anywhere, no more than there is among Christians anywhere, and nothing in their traditions or literature, which calis for the use of human blood for any purpose: that in the whole of the ## and vicissitudinous history of the Jews throughout the world there has never been nor is there today, even a ## of Judaism that has observed so barbarous and inhuman a practice.

“High-minded Americans had believed that the seeds of so false and monstrous an accusation against the Jews could no more find soil in America than could the stupidities of witchcraft be revived.

“The Massena incident, therefore, moves the Permanent Commission on Better Understanding to urge our fellow citizens throughout the nation, in the interest of true religion and of our common devotion to our country to prevent the spread of this libel on the Jews, to destroy it by the ridicule it deserves, and to forestall its recurrene by enlightenment, lest ill-will and religious enmity be spread among our citizenry and discord disrupt our national life.”

The statement was signed by William H. Faunce, Chairman, S. Parkes Cadman. Martin Conboy. Victor J. Dawling, Francis P. Duffy, Irving ##. Henry Morgenthau, Roscoe Pound. Stephen S. Wise. Isaac Land##. Secretary.

The New York “World”. writing on the ## incident states: “Public ## have been made by the May## Massena. N.Y. and by the State ## invoived for their hysterical ## in questioning a Jewish rabbi on ##-####.Mr. ## has done wisely in ## agging the case our into the daylight. ## is kind of thing is like fire in stub##, easily stamped out at first but ## to control once it gains headway.”

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