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  1/23/2014, Shevat 22, 5774

France: 350-Year-Old Blood Libel Laid to Rest


French Jew, Rafael Levy, who was wrongly executed for blood libel almost 350 years ago has not only been exonerated of the crime but declared a martyr. He was burned at the stake in 1670 after being accused of killing a three-year-old Christian and using the blood for making Passover matzah. However, on Sunday officials in Glatigny, Moselle, dedicated a plaque to the man's memory, describing him as a 'martyr accused of a crime he did not commit.' The ceremony was attended by more than 100 people, including the president of the ‘Consistoire” – which is the French Jewish community organization responsible for religious services.

The mayor of Glatigny, Victor Stallone said, “Today we are back to square one, reconciled, and resuming normal relations with the Jewish community.  Glatigny was considered cursed since that time because of a principled prohibition decided upon by the Jewish community, which was prohibited from spending the night there after the incident

Blood libel allegations originated in the Middle Ages when Jews were falsely accused of murdering children for ritual purposes.  They were largely spread to justify violence against Jews, and used to explain deaths of children. The first known accusation of blood libel was in England in the 12th century, when a child called William of Norwich was found dead with what looked like horn piercings in his head. 

Centuries later, the Nazis often spread propaganda alleging ritual murder at the hands of Jews to justify their violent behaviour towards them.