An image of Israel Defense Forces soldiers drinking blood was shared on Instagram by anti-Zionist NGO Jewish Voice for Peace last Thursday, leading to accusations by Jewish social media users that the NGO engaged in the classic antisemitic narrative of the "blood libel."
Israeli soldiers drinking blood
The picture, entitled "Independence Day," depicts celebration of Israel's independence day by Israeli soldiers, who raise their blood-filled glasses in toast. The appendage of a construction vehicle holds up a string of blue and white decorations, which is being cut by a Palestinian boy with scissors. The ground is soaked in blood and strewn with the bodies of Palestinians and uprooted trees.
"Truly disgusting. Jewish Voice for Peace posted a cartoon of two Jews drinking blood. In addition to being extremist and anti-Israel, JVP can add antisemitic to its resume."Aviva Klompas, former head of speechwriting at Israel's mission to the UN
"Israeli soldiers drinking blood?," said one commenter on the social media post. "That is taken directly from antisemitic blood libel stereotypes."
This cartoon posted by @jvplive is undeniably #antisemitic. Regardless of one’s views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, everyone should be appalled by this fictitious image, which appears to show Israeli soldiers drinking Palestinian blood. This is immensely dangerous. pic.twitter.com/InsIJEKace— ADL (@ADL) June 1, 2022
JVP and controversial art
The sentiment that JVP had shared content that evoked the blood libel was echoed by others in the comments on post, which shared 10 pieces of art on "Palestinian resistance, Israeli violence, and American complicity by" UK and Bahrain-based artist Sara Qaed.
The illustrations shared by JVP covered several topics, including the death of Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed in a Jenin firefight between IDF soldiers and Palestinian gunmen. An investigation is ongoing into her death, but is widely considered to so far to be inconclusive as to how Abu Akleh was hit, and who fired the bullet.
Another image entitled "Ukraine Israel" shows IDF soldiers stealing homes from Palestinians to provide them to Ukrainian refugees. In March, JVP accused Israel of "pitting refugees against each other" by "settling Jewish Ukrainian refugees on land it illegally occupies" while preventing "seven million Palestinian refugees from returning."
Qaed's art also touches on the Jerusalem Day flag march, in addition to Independence Day, which shows Palestinians as having deep roots to the land, while Israelis bounce around on springs. In early May, JVP asserted that Israeli national holidays were fabricated to create "harmful Zionist" narratives rather than having historical grounding.
Commenters supportive of the art pieces noted that the artist removed the Star of David from the Israeli flags, which they praised as an attempt to avoid accusations of antisemitism and to express that Zionism was incorrectly connected to Judaism.
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What is the blood libel?
The antisemitic blood libel narrative holds that Jews ritually murdered Christian children to to obtain their blood —which they imbibe, consume in matzah, and use in Passover rituals.
The narrative has been used to dehumanize Jews, and there were dozens instances in the Middle Ages in which Jews were put on trial based on the blood libel.
The first recorded instance of the libel was when the body of a child, William of Norwich, was found in a forest in England. A Jewish convert to Christianity claimed made the assertion that it was a Jewish ritualistic murder. Another notable instance of the blood libel was over the death of Simon of Trent in the 1400s, in which the Jewish community was accused of being responsible, and several Jews were tortured and put to death.
The blood libel has proliferated in the modern Middle East. In 2019, An Egyptian academic claimed that the practice of baking matzah for Passover with human blood used to be common among Jews but only ultra-Orthodox people do so today. In 2014, Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan was revealed by CNN's Wolf Blitzer to have claimed that the blood libel was fact on Al-Quds television.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.