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A journalist from Holland who linked Jews to the recent outbreak of a flu pandemic drew heavy criticism from a prominent Dutch Jewish organization this week, which said her claim was tantamount to an anti-Semitic blood libel.

Holland's largest daily, De Telegraaf, last week printed an interview with Desiree Rover, 61, who proposed the bird flu pandemic, caused by the virus H5N1, was part of an international conspiracy to reduce the world's population. (Swine flu, or H1N1, is a related virus.)

Rover is quoted saying the conspiracy can be traced back to descendants of the Khazars in the Caucasus believed to have converted to Judaism 1,200 years ago. De Telegraaf quotes her saying these descendants are now "praying to another god; Lucifer, Satan or however you want to call him" and "are called Rockefeller, Rothschild, Brzezinski and Kissinger."

Ronny Naftaniel, who heads the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI) - an local anti-Semitism watchdog - said this is the first time he has heard such claims from Rover, adding that her words suggest that "she does not seem to be right in her head."

Tales of Jews spreading disease "is nothing new," he told Haaretz, "and stories of Jews poisoning wells are known from many centuries ago, and her words are giving rise to that anti-Semitism."

CIDI, he added, will look into the possibility of lodging a formal complaint against Rover, though no decision has been made.