Jerusalem (Mar. 1)
An attempted blood libel in Aleppo is reported to-day by the Hebrew daily “Doar Hayom” here.
An Arab has been arrested there, it says, who was carrying a sack which he told the police contained fuel for the synagogue. It was found, however, to contain a dismembered body, which be then confessed he was taking to the synagogue at the request of a Greek Orthodox, who had told him to leave it at the door of the synagogue, so that it might create a ritual murder outcry.
In July 1929, a month before the August massacres in Palestine, a blood libel agitation was started by the Arabic and French press in Damascus and Beirut. A story was told that a 60 year old Jew named Chattah was seen in the streets of Damascus carrying a sack in which something moved and struggled, and when it was opened a five year old Christian girl was found there bound and gagged. The story was afterwards found to be an invention.
The Christians of Damascus, nevertheless, started a blood libel agitation and the notorious Damascus blood libel affair of 1840 was recalled and exploited by the agitators against the Jews.
The Damascus blood libel affair of 1840 stirred the Jewish world, and was in part the reason for the founding of the Alliance Israelite Universelle. At that time, Damascus and the whole of Syria, belonged to Mohammed Ali, Khedive of Egypt, who had revolted against the Sultan of Turkey. Public meetings were held in London, Paris, New York and other places. Especially important was the meeting called by the Lord Mayor of London at the Mansion House. As a result, Sir Moses Montefiore and Isaac Cremieux and Solomon Munk of France were sent as mediators to Alexandria to plead with the Khedive. After repeated interviews with Mohammed Ali they obtained from him the unconditional release and recognition of the innocence of the nine prisoners who still remained alive of the thirteen imprisoned. They then went to Constantinople and obtained a firman from the Sultan Majid declaring the accusation of ritual murder absurd.
The blood libel arose in connection with the disappearance of Father Thomas, the Superior of a Franciscan Convent, together with his servant. The French Consul at Damascus, who was an enemy of the Jews, started investigations in the Jewish quarter. A confession was extorted from a Jewish barber named Negrin and several of the most notable Jews were imprisoned and tortured. Their teeth and beards were pulled out, and they were tempted with gold to confess an imaginary crime. The incited populace fell upon the synagogue and destroyed the Scrolls of the Law.
There was a blood libel in Damascus also in 18#2, and another at Passover in 1926, when an attempt was made to accuse the Jews of killing a Christian boy for the Passover festival.