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.

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Read more at Fathom

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

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter