An Italian-Israeli academic temporarily discontinued publication of a book that critics say lends credence to 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 accusations that Jews used Christian blood for religious rites may have been based on 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. In the days following the book’s release, the international furor prompted Toaff to ask Al Molino, the book’s Italian publishers, to discontinue publication so he could annotate some of the more controversial passages. Toaff said in a statement that many of his arguments had been “twisted,” and that he hoped the annotations would “prevent the further misuse of my book as anti-Semitic propaganda.” The author promised to donate proceeds from the book to the Anti-Defamation League, which has condemned the book.
SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING