blood libel

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blood libel (plural blood libels)

  1. The false, anti-Semitic accusation that Jews abduct and murder non-Jewish children to use their blood for their religious rituals and holidays.
    • 1911 August 27, Herman Bernstein, “Ritual Murder Libel Encouraged by Russian Court”, in The New York Times[1]:
      The Jews of Russia are accused of having murdered a Christian child for ritual use. The blood libel against the Jews, which cropped up from time to time in various countries for centuries, has long been established as a myth invented by anti-Semites.
    • 2002, Anna Sapir Abulafia, Religious violence between Christians and Jews[2], page 99:
      The Jewish reaction to blood libels appears less articulated than we might have expected, because although it denied any Jewish culpability, it internalized some of the narratives which nourished the ritual murder accusations.
  2. (by extension) Any false or purportedly false accusation of murder of a non-Jew by a Jewish person or organization.
    • 1982 September 20, David K. Shipler, “Killings a Shock, Israeli Aides Say”, in The New York Times[3]:
      The Israeli Cabinet, meeting in emergency session, issued a statement tonight calling allegations of Israeli responsibility a "blood libel."
    • 1984 November 13, David Margolick, “Trial in Sharon Libel Suit vs. TIME Opens Today”, in The New York Times[4]:
      Charges "Blood Libel." Mr. Sharon, the architect of Israel's war in Lebanon and now Minister of Industry and Commerce, has charged that he was libeled in 1983 by a Time article suggesting that he condoned, if not directly encouraged, the September 1982 massacre by Christian Phalangists of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps near Beirut.
    • 1987, Uri Dan, Blood libel: the inside story of General Ariel Sharon's history-making suit against Time magazine[5], page 108:
      [ Ariel Sharon: ] "Time published a blood libel about me. How the hell do you settle a matter like this? A blood libel you fight!"
  3. (by extension) Any false or purportedly false accusation of guilt, especially of guilt in mass murder or homicide.
    • 1989 September 3, Leon Wieseltier, “At Auschwitz, Decency Dies Again”, in The New York Times[6]:
      In Washington, the conservative commentator Patrick Buchanan refined the analogy between Jews and their killers, and wrote that those who call for sensitivity to the Jews in this matter are guilty of "a blood libel" against Catholicism.
    • 1989 September 12, Patrick J. Buchanan, “'We Did Not Go to Auschwitz to Be Beaten'; In Defense of Pius XII”, in The New York Times[7]:
      What I called blood libel was the charge that Pope Pius XII, and my church, were moral accessories to mass murder.
    • 1997, Shanto Iyengar, Richard Reeves (editors), Do the Media Govern?: Politicians, Voters, and Reporters in America[8], page 44:
      [ John Seigenthaler to Oliver Stone re JFK: ] "Is there any regret on your part for what I consider to be a blood libel on Lyndon Johnson for that accusation of murder?"
    • 1998 February 1, Alan Ryan, “Hot Spots (review of The Warrior's Honor: Ethnic War and the Modern Conscience by Michael Ignatieff)”, in The New York Times[9]:
      The fantasies of blood libel that Bosnian Serbs retailed about Bosnian Muslims were the fantasies that Rhinelanders had centuries earlier retailed about the Jews they had murdered.
  4. More generally, any canard or virulent lie about someone.
    • 2000 November 21, Josh Marshall, quoting Peter Deutsch, “TPM Editor's Blog”, in Talking Points Memo[10]:
      Listen to Florida Democrat Peter Deutsch last night on Crossfire: "Let me just talk a little bit about... the worst statements I have ever heard probably in my life about anything. I mean, almost a blood libel by the Republicans towards Al Gore, saying that he was trying to stop men and women in uniform that are serving this country from voting." .... You don't just toss around charges that the possible next president of the United States is conspiring to take the vote away from American soldiers overseas. Given the volatility of the moment and the divisions already existing in American society it really is almost like a blood libel. Almost.
    • 2006 October 15, Frank Rich, “The Gay Old Party Comes Out”, in The New York Times[11]:
      Bush administration allies exploited the former Congressman’s predatory history to spread the grotesque canard that homosexuality is a direct path to pedophilia. It’s the kind of blood libel that in another era was spread about Jews.
    • 2006 November 25, Andy Newman, “Standoff at Miami Papers Ends in Cartoonist’s Arrest”, in The New York Times[12]:
      This week, Mr. Fiedler accused an op-ed contributor for El Nuevo Herald of "blood libel" for suggesting that a Herald reporter who broke the Martí story had ties to Cuba’s spy agency. In an editor’s note, Mr. Castelló called the spy claim unfounded.
    • 2011 January 12, Michael D. Shear, “"Blood Libel" in the Pages of History”, in The New York Times[13]:
      The phrase "blood libel" dates back to antiquity.... In more recent times, it has been appropriated by some to mean simply a virulent lie stated about someone.