In Nablus and Cyprus, the Accusation That Jews Ritually Murder Christians Is Alive and Well

At the Jacob’s Well Church in the West Bank town of Nablus, pilgrims can visit the tomb and sacred relics of St. Philoumenos, who was canonized by the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem in 2009 and is also revered as a saint by a few other Orthodox denominations, including the Russian Patriarchate in Moscow. According to descriptions of his martyrdom, Philoumenos—who had served as the head of the monastery attached to the church—was murdered “by Zionist settlers who wanted to cleanse the area of any trace of Christianity.” His killing was supposedly done in a ritualist fashion, with his body mutilated after his death. These descriptions can be found in such presumably reputable works as the Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity.

All of these details, writes David Gurevich, recall nothing more than the ritual-murder accusations of Middle Ages—of which the blood libel was the most notorious—responsible for so much violence and abuse of Jews. While the real Philoumenos was murdered by a deranged serial killer from Tel Aviv in 1979, none of the facts corresponds to the now-standard martyrdom narrative. Gurevich writes:

The account of Philoumenos’ tragic martyrdom, the torture by “fanatical Jews,” and, furthermore, Philoumenos’ post-mortem miracles, leading to his glorification as a saint, all resonate with the medieval accusations.

Philoumenos was born in Cyprus. . . . In the pilgrimage church of the famous Machairas Monastery in [Cyprus’] Troodos Mountains, I witnessed a painting that depicts Philomenos’ martyrdom—the Christian monk is seen being assaulted by a man presented as an ultra-Orthodox Jew wearing a typical hat, peyot, and a long beard. . . . Shortly after Philoumenos’ canonization, nuns in the monastery [in his hometown of Orounta] published his hagiography—a comprehensive book which elaborates the saint’s life story, death, and the miracle-doings. The book tells about various miracles performed by St. Philoumenos before and after his death. One of the miracles is saving Jacob’s Well church from shells of the “Jewish tanks” that attempted to storm the church in 2005 but were stopped by his intervention.

[C]ontrary to the Catholic Church, Orthodox churches have never abolished the veneration of past sanctified “victims” of Jewish “ritual murders.” In the course of the general return to religion in the post-Soviet Orthodox states, [some of these] cults were revived. . . . Moreover, in 2017, the Russian Orthodox Church established an official committee of inquiry into whether the last tsar was a victim of ritual murder by Jews.

Read more at Fathom

More about: Anti-Semitism, Cyprus, Orthodox Christianity, West Bank

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7