MKs Seek to Try Prof. Toaff Over Claims in Blood Libel Book

Kadima MK Solodkin: There are grounds to indict Toaff and file civil suits for harm to the Jewish people.

Knesset members yesterday urged the legal authorities to explore ways of indicting Professor Ariel Toaff over his book "Pasque di Sangue," which alleges a factual basis to a 15th-century blood libel.

Speaking at a Knesset Education Committee meeting on the book, MK Marina Solodkin (Kadima) said: "There is reason to put the book's author on trial." She also proposed filing civil suits against him for having damaged "historic truth and the reputation of the Jewish people."

Toaff, who did not attend the meeting, told Haaretz yesterday that he never intended to say that European Jews killed Christians to use their blood, and that he will soon publish an article in an academic journal stressing that such blood libels were false. Ten days ago, Toaff announced that he had stopped distribution of his controversial book.

The committee also decided to examine the review mechanisms employed by academia in Israel, with the goal of finding ways to ensure that things "that defy logic and morality," in the words of MK Michael Melchior (Labor), are not published.

The meeting was called by Education Committee Chairman Aryeh Eldad (National Union-National Religious Party), who charged that Toaff had "made himself a party to modern blood libels" and that his "punishment must exceed the reward."

Several MKs also used the opportunity to attack the "New Historians," who offer a revisionist and critical view of Israeli history, though Toaff himself does not study Israeli history.

Eldad said that "Toaff might have been jealous of the New Historians, who publish modern blood libels against the state of Israel," while Eliahu Gabbay (National Union-NRP) criticized conferences at Israeli universities where "the state of Israel is slandered."