'Blood libel' author halts press

Toaff donates proceeds of book to ADL.

By MATTHEW WAGNER, AP
February 14, 2007 22:52
2 minute read.

The author of a new book that suggested there was factual basis to blood libels that led to the murder of millions of innocent Jews announced on Wednesday that he was suspending the book's distribution. Ariel Toaff, an Israeli-Italian professor at Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv, said in a statement that he ordered the Italian publisher of his book to freeze distribution of his book so that he can "re-edit the passages which comprised the basis of the distortions and falsehoods that have been published in the media." Earlier, Toaff issued an apology in which he promised to direct the Italian publishing house, El Molino, to stop distribution of his book, entitled Pasque di Sangue (Bloody Passover), and re-edit passages which "comprised the basis of the distortions and falsehoods that have been published in the media." "I was astounded by the sheer force of these misrepresentations, which turned what is a research book into a vehicle used to harm Judaism and the Jewish people and, God forbid, as a justification for blood libel." Toaff also promised to donate all the funds forthcoming from the sale of his book to the Anti-Defamation League. "I will never allow any Jew-hater to use me or my research as an instrument for fanning the flames, once again, of the hatred that led to the murder of millions of Jews. I extend my sincerest apologies to all those who were offended by the articles and twisted facts that were attributed to me and to my book." Bar-Ilan University expressed "great anger" and "extreme displeasure" Wednesday regarding Toaff's research. Bar-Ilan spokesman Shmuel Elgrably said that firing Toaff was never an option. "Whether or not Toaff's research was good will be decided in academic circles." In a press release, Bar-Ilan University announced that, "Following a preliminary investigation into the circumstances surrounding the publication of Toaff's book in Italy, Bar-Ilan University is expressing great anger and extreme displeasure at Toaff, for his lack of sensitivity in publishing his book about blood libels in Italy."His choice of a private publishing firm in Italy, the book's provocative title and the interpretations given by the media to its contents have offended the sensitivities of Jews around the world and harmed the delicate fabric of relations between Jews and Christians. "Bar-Ilan University strongly condemns and repudiates what is seemingly implied by Toaff's book and by reports in the media concerning its contents, as if there is a basis for the blood libels that led to the murder of millions of innocent Jews. "Bar-Ilan University's executive leadership and academic faculty have consistently condemned any attempt to justify the terrible blood libels against the Jews. Toaff should have demonstrated greater sensitivity and caution in his handling of the book and its publication, in a manner that would have prevented the distorted and offensive reports and interpretations."


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