Knesset Members demanded Monday that the state prosecute Prof. Ariel Toaff, author of Pasque di Sangue [Passover of Blood], which suggests that there might be hard facts behind the accusations of blood libels against the Jews. Blood libels are accusations, traced back to the 12th century, that Jews used human blood in religious rituals. Many blood libel accusations purported that Jews used the blood of young Christian children for their Pessah rituals. Blood libel accusations have persisted in 21st century conspiracy theories.
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MK Michael Melchior (Labor-Meimad), chairman of the Knesset Education Committee, said that Toaff has caused "damage to the Jewish People and to the Nation of Israel." MK Ze'ev Elkin (Kadima) suggested that the committee appeal to Bar-Ilan University to fire Toaff from his position there as a Professor of Medieval and Renaissance History.
MK Marina Solodkin (Kadima) said she thought "there are valid reasons to prosecute the author of the book," and called to "bring him to trial over historical truth and the Jewish people's reputation."
Due to the controversy, Toaff has already suspended the distribution and printing of the book, and has said that he would donate his profits from the 3,000 copies already sold to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
"As far as the ADL is concerned the damage is done. This is one of the most disastrous episodes in or battle against conspiracy theories. They are not marginal, they are flourishing," said Arieh O'Sullivan, spokesman for the ADL in Israel. "Enemies of Israel will seize on this book as a gift. They will argue that because of this 'courageous' Jew with impeccable credentials, the son of a the former chief rabbi of Rome and from Bar-Ilan, all the other conspiracy theories will be true."
Bar-Ilan University President Professor Moshe Kaveh said that he had met with Toaff and issued a press release condemning the book.
In the book, Toaff discusses the blood libel of Trent in 1475, and suggests that Jews may have murdered the young child mentioned in that story. Last week, Toaff said that he would clarify in a journal, and state that the Jews did not routinely murder Christian children for their blood.