‘When someone does you wrong, do not judge things as he interprets them or would like you to interpret them. Just see them as they are, in plain truth.’
Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book Four: Verse Eleven.
In my humble opinion, one of the most intriguing features of the posturing of the Anti-Defamation League, and other Jewish ethnic activist organizations, is their frequent discussion of what they call ‘canards.’ There are, I am informed, many ‘canards’ ranging from allegations that ‘the Jews’ killed God and mutilated communion wafers, to allegations that Jews control the media and have inordinate influence in the areas of culture and politics.
For many years I had been vaguely aware of this list of ‘canards’, and one or two things had consistently bothered me about it. For a start, the many attempts by Jewish writers to lay emphasis on the importance and impact of superstition appeared to me to be little more than crude efforts to shift the blame for ethnic conflict onto Christianity and an allegedly ‘irrational’ populace, and away from some of the harsher realities of resource competition in the Middle Ages. While I have no doubt that the so-called ‘Blood Libel’ contributed to violent actions taken against Jews, I have never been convinced that this charge, and others like it, was in any way sufficient in itself to spark violence. Even adopting the mentality of the age, thickly populated with tales of spectres and demons, it is difficult to imagine that the animosity which arose was rooted solely in such charges.
In fact, I am completely convinced by the theory of respected historian and folklorist Gillian Bennett, who argues that “where accusations of ritual murder were made in this period…it is more probable that they were cause celebres around which anti-Jewish feeling could crystallize, rather than the cause of anti-Semitism in the first place.” The posturing of Jewish ethnic activists about the ‘potency’ of this particular set of ‘canards’, both in the past and the present, can be attributed to their desire to deceive others and themselves. Read more