Recognising Antisemitism

A guide to the language, themes and imagery of ‘the oldest hatred’

Antisemitism is a millennia-old phenomenon that, over the centuries, has spawned its own unique beliefs, language and mythology. It is an ideology in its own right.

Blood Libel

The original antisemitic blood libel dates from the Middle Ages, and is the accusation that Jews murder Christian children in order to use their blood in Passover rituals. In 1290, it was the pretext for the confiscation of all Jewish property and the complete expulsion of Jews from England. They were not permitted to return until 1655. Blood libel has been responsible for the persecution and killing of Jews ever since.

In the modern era, blood libel continues to be a major aspect of antisemitism. It has extended its reach to accuse Jews of many different forms of harm that can be carried out against other people. The major manifestations of blood libel are listed below.

Jews drink the blood of non-Jews

An ongoing belief in the original blood libel.

Jews harm the children of non-Jews

Another manifestation of the original blood libel. The medieval accusation of murdering Christian children is linked with the lie that Jews are intent on killing Palestinian children.

Jews steal human organs

Another reference to the original medieval blood libel. Here it is reworked to accuse Jews of murdering Palestinian children in order to harvest their organs.