The Blood Libel As Anti-Semitic Meme

Before there was Twitter, there were blood libels and songs about Jewish ritual murder.

I have Jewish friends outraged by this Alt Right podcast on Jewish ritual murder (with the world’s leading goy, Andrew Joyce), but none of them have listened to it.

From Wikipedia:

Blood libel (also blood accusation)[1][2] is an accusation[3][4][5] that Jews kidnapped and murdered the children of Christians in order to use their blood as part of their religious rituals during Jewish holidays.[1][2][6] Historically, these claims – alongside those of well poisoning and host desecration – have been a major theme of the persecution of Jews in Europe.[4]

Blood libels typically say that Jews require human blood for the baking of matzos for Passover, although this element was allegedly absent in the earliest cases which claimed that then-contemporary Jews reenacted the crucifixion. The accusations often assert that the blood of the children of Christians is especially coveted, and, historically, blood libel claims have been made in order to account for the otherwise unexplained deaths of children. In some cases, the alleged victim of human sacrifice has become venerated as a martyr, a holy figure around whom a martyr sect might arise. Three of these – William of Norwich, Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln, and Simon of Trent – became objects of local sects and veneration, and in some cases they were added to the General Roman Calendar. One, Gavriil Belostoksky, was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church…

The term ‘blood libel’ can also refer to any unpleasant and damaging false accusation, and has taken on a broader metaphorical meaning. However, this usage remains controversial and has been protested by Jewish groups.

Alt Right podcast, Andrew Joyce says: “As a movement, we are quite familiar with the meme. What is a meme? It condenses a sort of truth or meaning in an accessible, humorous, memorable or concise way. A lot of the folklore concerning Jews in the past conveyed the same message. We’re looking at medieval memes. There is a punchline in there, there is a truth, but we need to approach these things with a critical eye.”

“It’s taboo even in our circles [to discuss Jewish ritual murder]. It carries an unsavory, disreputable quality to it. For the past century, it has been unpalatable for Europeans to confront this past of the European past…because a lot of earlier beliefs about Jews involved religion and superstition, so folk wisdom about Jews got thrown out.”

“We have this picture of Jews as coldly rational, always wanting to break down our society…but in the Middle Ages, there was a more pronounced occult in Judaism. Jews had their own folk tales and folk heroes. These would usually involve a rabbi with magical powers.”

“Some of the folk tales became so extreme that Andrew Anglin could not have conceived of them in his wildest imagination.”

“Before you had the National Enquirer, you had the Chronicle of Wonders which reported in Germany in the 15th Century that a Jewish woman had given birth to two piglets.”

“It is important to revive discussion of these things. The whole Jewish ritual murder thing has become powerful to Jews, particularly in the last century, because it is a way of discrediting our ancestors, it is a way of tainting any criticism of themselves as irrational or superstitious or beyond the realm o reasonable discussion. I think this topic can be discussed in a reasonable way. Why didn’t they like Jews? Why did they create this stuff? We had other minority groups in Europe who did not generate the same folk legends. Let’s move past being discredited by this stuff and come back to why did these populations not like Jews.”

Once I came to understand The Protocols of Zion as a novel trying to convey a message, then things clicked for me as far as understanding the critics of Jews. I saw it was pointless to diss the Protocols as a hoax. Would I call other fiction a hoax?

There are disturbing true-life parallels to medieval accusations against Jews:

The Guardian from circa 2010:

Doctor admits Israeli pathologists harvested organs without consent

Israel has admitted pathologists harvested organs from dead Palestinians, and others, without the consent of their families – a practice it said ended in the 1990s – it emerged at the weekend.

The admission, by the former head of the country’s forensic institute, followed a furious row prompted by a Swedish newspaper reporting that Israel was killing Palestinians in order to use their organs – a charge that Israel denied and called “antisemitic”.

The revelation, in a television documentary, is likely to generate anger in the Arab and Muslim world and reinforce sinister stereotypes of Israel and its attitude to Palestinians. Iran’s state-run Press TV tonight reported the story, illustrated with photographs of dead or badly injured Palestinians.

Ahmed Tibi, an Israeli Arab MP, said the report incriminated the Israeli army.

The story emerged in an interview with Dr Yehuda Hiss, former head of the Abu Kabir forensic institute near Tel Aviv. The interview was conducted in 2000 by an American academic who released it because of the row between Israel and Sweden over a report in the Stockholm newspaper Aftonbladet.

Channel 2 TV reported that in the 1990s, specialists at Abu Kabir harvested skin, corneas, heart valves and bones from the bodies of Israeli soldiers, Israeli citizens, Palestinians and foreign workers, often without permission from relatives.

New York Times 2004:

THE ORGAN TRADE: A Global Black Market; Tracking the Sale of a Kidney On a Path of Poverty and Hope

The syndicate that organized the American woman’s transplant, the authorities say, also arranged kidney transfers for at least 100 Israelis. It was led, they say, by a 52-year-old organ broker in Israel, Ilan Peri.

”He’s Mr. Big, the one who started the whole thing,” Johan Wessels, a forensic investigator in South Africa who works for the Department of Health in KwaZulu-Natal Province and has had access to hospital records there, said in Durban.

Mr. Peri works out of a Tel Aviv suburb through a company called TechCom. He faces charges of tax evasion in Israel, accused of improperly declaring nearly $4 million said to have been earned as an organ broker and is also under investigation in connection with inflating the invoices that he did submit to Israeli health care programs.

When reached by telephone in Tel Aviv and asked to comment on the charges, Mr. Peri said: ”I have never been involved in kidney transplants. You are talking to the wrong guy.” He eventually hung up the telephone, but not before amending his statement. ”I’m not involved in that anymore, so I can’t help you,” he said.

To those who monitor organ trafficking, it was no surprise that Israel should emerge as the focal point of a syndicate. Organ donation rates in Israel are among the lowest in the developed world, about one-third the rate in Western Europe, in large part because of what Health Ministry officials and doctors describe as a widespread impression that Jewish religious law prohibits transplants as a ”desecration of the body.”

In reality, religious law is far more nuanced. But influential Orthodox rabbis have been reluctant to make public statements that would encourage either live donors or the harvesting of organs from the deceased.

Israelis needing transplants have suffered as a result. More than 1,000 people in a nation of about 6 million are on Israel’s waiting list for organs, more than half of them for kidneys. The list grows by more than 20 percent each year, health officials say. In an average year, more than 80 people die waiting, proportionally a slightly higher rate than in the United States.

To meet Israeli’s growing demand for organs, middlemen calling themselves brokers, from prominent doctors to a former spokesman for a health maintenance organization, have rushed into the market to set prices for a scarce product that can reach $150,000 for a kidney. Some advertise openly in Israeli newspapers and on radio stations, soliciting recipients and donors.

”As of today, there is no law in Israel that forbids trafficking in human organs,” Meir Broder, a legal adviser to the Health Ministry, explained in an interview in Jerusalem. ”There is no criminal aspect at all.”

A bill drafted by the Health Ministry that would make trafficking illegal and forbid organ donations for money awaits action in the Parliament. But medical specialists say it faces strong opposition and may not pass.

For now, allowing the brokers to operate with few restrictions in effect benefits the state by exporting Israel’s organ shortage overseas. The patients who do go abroad ”save the country a lot of money,” explained Dr. Michael Friedlaender, a kidney specialist at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, ”not only in terms of what doesn’t have to be spent on dialysis, but also by opening places for other people who are on the list.”

For operations in Israel, the Ministry of Health relies on elaborate procedures to ensure that donors and recipients act for ”altruistic” motives and do not exchange money. But another ministry directive also allows Israelis who go abroad for transplants to be reimbursed as much as $80,000.

Much of the remaining costs can often be obtained from insurance plans, though Israeli health maintenance organizations are supposed to ask for proof when donors and recipients say they are related in ”voluntary” operations.

Israeli doctors say those requirements are often ignored, and the government says it has no obligation to monitor operations done abroad. ”In the end, a country can only be responsible for what happens within its own borders,” said Mr. Broder, the Ministry of Health lawyer.

New York Times 2014:

Transplant Brokers in Israel Lure Desperate Kidney Patients to Costa Rica

RAMAT GAN, Israel — Aside from the six-figure price tag, what was striking was just how easy it was for Ophira Dorin to buy a kidney.

Two years ago, as she faced the dispiriting prospect of spending years on dialysis, Ms. Dorin set out to find an organ broker who could help her bypass Israel’s lengthy transplant wait list. Only 36, she had a promising job at a software company and dreams of building a family. To a woman who raced cars for kicks, it seemed unthinkable that her best days might be tethered to a soul-sapping machine.

For five years, Ms. Dorin had managed her kidney disease by controlling her diet, but it had gradually overrun her resistance. Unable to find a matching donor among family and friends, she faced a daily battle against nausea, exhaustion and depression.

A broker who trades in human organs might seem a difficult thing to find. But Ms. Dorin’s mother began making inquiries around the hospital where she worked, and in short order the family came up with three names: Avigad Sandler, a former insurance agent long suspected of trafficking; Boris Volfman, a young Ukrainian émigré and Sandler protégé; and Yaacov Dayan, a wily businessman with interests in real estate and marketing.

The men were, The New York Times learned during an investigation of the global organ trade, among the central operators in Israel’s irrepressible underground kidney market. For years, they have pocketed enormous sums for arranging overseas transplants for patients who are paired with foreign donors, court filings and government documents show.

The brokers maintain they operate legally and do not directly help clients buy organs. Dodging international condemnation and tightening enforcement, they have nimbly shifted operations across the globe when any one destination closes its doors.

The supply of transplantable organs is estimated by the World Health Organization to meet no more than a tenth of the need. Although there is no reliable data, experts say thousands of patients most likely receive illicit transplants abroad each year. Almost always, the sellers are poor and ill-informed about the medical risks.

The vast marketplace includes the United States, where federal prosecutors in New Jersey won the first conviction for illegal brokering in 2011.

But a Times analysis of major trafficking cases since 2000 suggests that Israelis have played a disproportionate role. That is in part because of religious strictures regarding death and desecration that have kept deceased donation rates so low that some patients feel they must turn elsewhere.

“When someone needs an organ transplant, they’ll do everything in their power,” said Meir Broder, a top legal adviser to Israel’s Ministry of Health.

That desperation was evident in the workings of the transplant tourism pipeline that delivered Ms. Dorin and other foreign patients to Costa Rica from 2009 to 2012. Through more than 100 interviews and reviews of scores of documents, The Times traced the network from the barrios of San José, Costa Rica’s gritty capital, to the glass towers of Ramat Gan, a bustling commercial district near Tel Aviv.

The Costa Rican government is not sure how many foreigners received suspicious transplants there. But The Times identified 11 patients — six Israelis, three Greeks and two American residents — who traveled to San José for transplants using kidneys obtained from locals. Two other Israelis who were located brought donors from Israel with them for procedures that most likely would not have been approved in their own country.

The network was built by a cast that included high-rolling Israeli brokers, a prominent Costa Rican nephrologist and middlemen who recruited donors from the driver’s seat of a taxi and the front counter of a pizzeria. In interviews and documents, four Israeli patients or sources close to them identified Mr. Dayan, known as Koby, as their conduit to Costa Rica.

Haaretz 2014:

NYT Finds ‘Disproportionate Role’ of Israelis in World Organ Trafficking

A report Sunday in the New York Times sheds light on the role of Israelis in international organ trafficking. Through the story of Ophira Dorin, a 36-year-old Israeli woman, the report demonstrates how easy it is to illegally buy a kidney in Israel.
Costa Rican authorities announced last year that they had uncovered an international organ trafficking ring that specialized in selling kidneys to Israeli and eastern European patients. The Times said it was able to identify 11 patients – six of them Israelis – who underwent kidney transplants in San Jose, as well as two other Israelis who arrived to the Costa Rican capital with donors for procedures they said would not have been approved back home. The report puts Dr. Francisco Mora Palma, head of nephrology at the large Calderon Guardia Hospital in San Jose, at the center of the operation in Costa Rica.
By following Doris’ story, the Times identified three Israelis it said were involved in the trafficking case – Avigad Sandler, Boris Volfman and Yaacov Dayan – describing them as being “among the central operators in Israel’s irrepressible underground kidney market.”
Doris was originally referred to Sandler, but later changed to Volfman after she was told he could arrange transplants at a lower price. A day after their meeting, Volfman was arrested along with Sandler and others on suspicion of organ trafficking in an unrelated case. Soon after, Dorin was referred by one of her clients to Dayan.
When confronted by the Times reporter to explain his involvement in the case, Dayan said, “We help people,” but refused to elaborate, only adding that he had been out of business for over 18 months at the time.
In a phone interview with the Times, Volfman described himself as a middleman who accompanied patients abroad to organize them accommodation, contacts and medical examinations. He insisted on never having any contact with the organ donors themselves and that it was up to the patients to choose the transplant center and pay them directly.
The story says Dorin wired money to the hospital in San Jose and to Dr. Mora, who then paid some $18,500 to an unemployed 37-year-old man for his kidney. This case is merely one of thousands of illicit transplants that take place around the world each year, experts cited in the report estimate.
Dorin told the Times that she even if what she was doing was illegal, after five years with a kidney disease, she felt she had no choice.
In recent years, more than a few Israelis have been mentioned in media reports involving international organ trafficking, whether in Ukraine, Kosovo, Turkey or Costa Rica.
The Times attributes the “disproportionate role” of Israelis involved in major organ trafficking cases partially to Jewish religious restrictions, which keep donation rates low in Israel.
According to the Israeli Health Ministry, less than 10 percent of the overall population in Israel is registered as organ donors – among the lowest rate among developed countries. The ministry reported an increase in registration after the Knesset passed a law in 2012 granting registered donors priority if they ever need a transplant. Also, in 2010, living donors began receiving compensation of several thousand shekels, which may have contributed to the increase. The compensation is meant to cover lost wages and related expenses.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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