Blood Libel and the Beginnings of Anti-Semitism
As portrayed in Jud Suss, we know that Jews have suffered persecution and hatred in Europe and indeed across the world before Nazi Germany, chiefly because many in Christian circles believed that the Jews killed Christ (Wrong, because he was killed by the Romans).
However, a less-discussed and equally as absurd theory that was used to persecute Jews was the theory of blood libel, or an accusation that Jews murdered Christian children to use their blood during holidays. (Chanes)
Now, as we’ve noticed in class, things like logic, reason, and facts often don’t dissuade parties intent on damaging another group, so naturally those who accused Jews of murdering for their rituals probably didn’t read the part of the Torah that forbids murder, or the fine print of the kashrut (colloquially known as “eating kosher”) which decrees that blood from animals must be drained, buried, and preferably placed on the Great Temple altar in Jerusalem, which didn’t exist by 1066. (Gottheil) Additionally, to eat human flesh is completely in violation of the kashrut. I found a common connection this while watching Jud Suss and seeing the obviously dramatized and completely erroneous depiction of a Jewish religious ceremony as some arcane druidic event (which would fit the narrative of human sacrifice), and remembering that Christians justified parts of the Inquisition by saying that Jews would fatten up Christian children to eat them. Of course, the Nazis practiced a different sort of “blood libel” with the Nuremberg Laws, which in part dictated the lines of Jewish ethnicity as well as providing a basis on which to marry or not marry.
Chanes, Jerome A. Antisemitism: A Reference Handbook, ABC-CLIO, 2004, Online.
Gottheil, Richard. “BLOOD ACCUSATION.” The Jewish Encyclopedia. JewishEncylopedia.com, n.d. Web. 9 Oct. 2015.