“Mord Rytualny (Ritual Murder),” an 18th century painting by Charles de Prevot that depicts the anti-Semitic blood libel (using the blood of Christians for religious rituals), was put on public display in the Cathedral of Sandomierz, Poland this past Friday.
It was included as part of the Catholic Church’s celebration of the International Day of Judaism, also referred to as the “Day of Jewish-Catholic Dialogue.”
The ghastly painting depicts Jews ritually murdering a Christian child in order to use its blood for Passover matzoh (unleavened bread). But a plaque next to it informed viewers that the Jews do not actually commit ritual murder and that Judaism prohibits such actions. (JTA)
The painting has hung in the cathedral for many years, although more recently, it has been hidden under a red curtain.
Showing the painting on the International Day of Judaism is meant to encourage dialogue through practical activities.
This special day of recognition of the Jewish roots of the Church was first introduced in Italy. Part of its intent was to build on a dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Jewish community that had begun with the Second Vatican Council (1962–65).
Such dialogue is extremely important since many people who call themselves Christians still believe this ancient blood libel. It was on lies such as this that the Holocaust was built.
The blood libel has been responsible through the ages for the murder of many innocent Jews.
For instance, in 1945, rumors of ritual murder allegedly committed by the Jews sparked a wave of anti-Jewish pogroms (violent persecutions and/or massacres) in Poland.
Today, many in the Arab world also believe these false charges, which are often repeated in the media.
One example of the media repeating the blood libel occurred last May in an interview that aired on Al-Hafez TV, a Salafi Islamist channel from Egypt that promotes the Koran (the central religious text of Islam).
In the interview, Khaled Al-Zaafrani of the Egyptian Justice and Progress Party stated,
“It’s well known that during the Passover, they [the Jews] make matzos called the ‘Blood of Zion.’ They take a Christian child, slit his throat and slaughter him. Then they take his blood and make their [matzos]. This is a very important rite for the Jews, which they never forgo … They slice it and fight over who gets to eat Christian blood.
“The French kings and the Russian czars discovered this in the Jewish quarters. All the massacring of Jews that occurred in those countries were because they discovered that the Jews had kidnapped and slaughtered children, in order to make the Passover matzos,” Al-Zaafrani continued. (MEMRI)