Publication of Jewish 'blood libel' book suspended

The author of a new book that appeared to suggest that medieval "blood libels" against Jews might have been based in fact announced Wednesday that he is 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." Toaff was criticized by Jewish groups and members of the Italian Jewish community after his book led to interpretations that the "blood libels" of the Middle Ages - that Jews used the blood of Christians in rituals - might have really occurred. Jewish and Catholic scholars also denounced his work, saying he simply reinterpreted known documents and gave credence to confessions that were extracted under torture. Toaff later denied suggesting that Jews had used Christian blood in rituals, but his university said it was "dissatisfied" with his explanations. In the statement Wednesday, Toaff said he was freezing publication "in order to prevent the further misuse of my book as anti-Semitic propaganda."