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Academic revives blood libel debate

An Israeli-Italian academic was accused of reviving European blood libels against Jews. Ariel Toaff, a professor at Bar Ilan University, argues in his book “Bloody Passovers: The Jews of Europe and Ritual Murders” that medieval theories that Jews used Christian blood for religious rites may have been borne out of a rabbinical edict allowing the use of dried blood for medicinal purposes. The author, whose father, Elio Toaff, was chief rabbi of Rome, further writes that the hostility evinced by “extremist” Jews toward Christians at the time may have fueled the blood libels. The book has drawn widespread condemnation, though the controversy has helped sales. Toaff told Ma’ariv on Monday that his research had been quoted out of context. “I would not be surprised if, when I return to Israel, I lose my job at Bar Ilan University,” he said. “What is certain is that I prefer to be attacked in Israel rather than in Italy. At least in Israel I can explain myself.”