MINSK, Belarus, July 30 (JTA) — A new era might be dawning in Eastern Europe, but you would not know it if you lived in Belarus. A documentary has been rebroadcast on Belarussian state television that includes the story of an alleged ritual murder of an infant by Jews more than three centuries ago. The film was shown this week, when the Belarussian Orthodox Church celebrated the Day of Belarussian Saints. The majority of the former Soviet republic’s population of 10 million belongs to the Orthodox Church. The infant, St. Gavril of Bialystok, is revered in Belarus as the patron saint of sick children. He was found dead in 1690 in an area that is now part of Poland. He was declared a victim of a ritual murder carried out by Jews — the familiar blood libel that for centuries was used as a pretext to carry out pogroms in Eastern and Central Europe against the local Jewish population. The documentary repeated the accusation against Jews, adding that they were the “members of a secret fanatical sect” that centuries before had demanded that Jesus be put to death. The widely advertised documentary was first broadcast three years ago by the Belarus state-run television station during the same Orthodox celebration. Jewish groups in Belarus, who generally attempt to keep a low profile, did not protest that broadcast. One Jewish activist indicated that he was planning to protest the latest broadcast to the country’s prosecutor general.
Belarussian television airs documentary alleging blood libel