It’s been a blessedly quiet Passover this year. Unfortunately, that hasn’t always been the case. From the Middle Ages and even well into the 20th century, Passover was a time of blood libels against the Jewish people that often resulted in deadly attacks. In 1936, for example, a band of peasants in the Polish town of Lviv (also spelled Lwow or Lvov) swept through the town burning down Jewish farms
In the latter half of the 20th century, Arabs picked up on the trend – including the PLO— spreading canards about Jews and the use of blood for ritual purposes. In 2007, an Italian Jewish professor published a popular book claiming that blood indeed had been used for Jewish rituals from time to time.
Though blood libel accusations have declined in recent decades, bloodletting in the form of terrorist attacks against Jews was an all-too-frequent occurrence on Passover. In 1931, three members of the Yadjur settlement were murdered on Passover by Arab assailants. The most infamous of these attacks came in 2002, when a Hamas suicide bomber attacked the Park Hotel in the Israeli city of Netanya, killing more than 30 people and injuring more than 140. Dressed up as a woman, the terrorist detonated his bomb in the hotel dining room during the seder.
In America, the U.S. military has maintained a practice not to draft Jewish soldiers on Passover. This custom dates back to 1929, when the U.S. government ceased all deportations of illegal Jewish immigrants for the duration of the holiday. The Army and Navy both came to accept this deferment in deference to Passover, though it has been unnecessary since the end of the military draft in 1973.