JERUSALEM, April 3, 2013 ― Jews have finally finished celebrating seven days of Passover, the holiday that marks freedom from Egyptian bondage.
This year, because Egyptians are embroiled in their own enslavement at the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders they elected, some of them have been too busy rioting in the streets, while others burn churches, to engage in age-old anti-Semitic tactics.
But they can take comfort in the fact that other Arabs in the region made sure not to slack off and drop the blood-libel ball. Passover would not feel familiar without its tried-and-true rituals. Among these is a favored tradition, carried forth from the Middle Ages by anti-Semites: accusing Jews of using the blood of Christian children to make matza.
If such lies were not responsible for pogroms, terrorist attacks and other inhuman injustices committed against Jews, they would be hilariously funny. Not only do Jews tend to be squeamish, but matza is the driest, most colorless form of food on the planet. And the only children in danger prior to the Passover seder are Jewish kids whose mothers are fed up with having them underfoot while trying to cook and clean.
Nor do most sane people actually believe this nonsense, unless they have been brainwashed since early childhood, without exposure to other information.
This brings us to large swaths of the Arab world, whose thoughts are molded by their parents, teachers and Imams, and whose access to material that contradicts their upbringing is severely restricted.
It is thus not surprising that young, oppressed Arabs should continue to adhere to allkinds of religious beliefs and political positions that are more suited to medieval times than modern.
But what can one say about Arab intellectuals who participate in the spread of ideas that are as primitive as they are pernicious? And how is it possible that some members of this particular elite are women, whose gender alone should be causing them to fight the very anti-female forces they abet?
Two cases in point came to light this week, one in the Palestinian Authority and the other in Lebanon.
An NGO called MIFTAH (the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy came under fire after an article on its Web site asserted that, contrary to current theory, Jews actually do use the blood of Christians for their feasts.
Here is one choice morsel from the piece: “Does Obama in fact know the relationship…between Passover and Christian blood
The outcry from Jewish bloggers and community leaders initially elicited anger from MIFTAH, which cried about being the target of a “smear campaign.”
MIFTAH is headed by Hanan Ashrawi. Ashrawi grew up in Ramallah, the daughter of wealthy parents. She received a BA and MA in English literature from the American University in Beirut, and her doctorate in Medieval and Comparative Literature from the University of Virginia. In 1973, she founded and chaired the English department at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah. She would later become dean of its arts faculty.
The author of poems, short stories, articles and books on Palestinian culture and politics, Ashrawi was appointed official spokeswoman of the Palestinian delegation at the 1991 Peace Conference in Madrid.
In 1996, she became an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council for the Jerusalem district. She also served two years as minister of higher education in the first Palestinian Authority cabinet and as a spokeswoman for the Arab League.
She founded MIFTAH in 1998, and has continued to receive funding for it from American and European organizations.
This is why Ashrawi must have realized that she was going to be in financial hot water if MIFTAH didn’t issue an apology: “It has become clear to us after investigating this incident that the article was accidentally and incorrectly published by a junior staff member. The said staffer has been reprimanded and all our staff has been informed as to the disgusting and repulsive phenomena of blood libel or accusation, including its use against Jews.”
Now there’s remorse for you: Palestinian-style, that is.
But over in Lebanon, there is another high-class lady with a literary background and a poison pen. On March 26, Sana Kojok published an article in the widely read Lebanese daily, Al-Sharq, in which she not only reiterated the Passover blood libel, but also called on Palestinians to murder Jews.
The following excerpt (translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute) is enlightening:
… During the Jewish holiday of Passover… the Zionist Jews eat unleavened bread which during its preparation is mixed with blood – but that blood must be from a non-Jew!! This unleavened bread is called ‘matza.’ Imagine someone eating matza made with blood!? How do these barbarians think? Such barbaric behavior – even in eating and drinking?!…How can the world expect us to negotiate with people who crave the blood of humanbeings – not only in their wars, but even in their holidays? … Their damned Talmud neither respects nor recognizes any monotheistic religion. The Palestinians should challenge the Zionist aggressors and turn their holiday from one of joy and pleasure at the taste of blood into one of weeping and wailing.
Kojok must be aware that the Palestinians are way ahead of her. During a Passover seder at the Park Hotel in Netanya eleven years ago, a Hamas suicide bomber committed a monumental massacre against Jews in the middle of their holiday meal. It was the worst single slaughter of innocent civilians during the Second Intifada.
So Kojok must have been feeling nostalgic for the good old days when she wrote her piece. But since her salary is paid only indirectly from the US and Europe through aid to Lebanon that always ends up in the hands of Hezbollah, she will not have to follow Ashrawi’s suit and issue any retractions.
Ruthie Blum is the author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.”
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