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1840 February 5, DAMASCUS AFFAIR (Syria)

A blood libel was started with the disappearance of Father Thomas, a Franciscan superior. After a "confession" was extracted from a Jewish barber, seven others were arrested, two of whom died under torture. The French consul Ratti Menton, accused the Jews of ritual murder and requested permission from Mahomet Ali to kill the rest of his suspects. Other Jews were arrested, including sixty three children who were starved to convince their parents to confess. Sir Moses Montefiore, Adolphe Cremieux, and Solomon Munk intervened on behalf of the Jews and in August the charges were dropped. This affair spurred early Zionist writers like Hess to promote the Zionist cause. The United States, England, Russia, Austria, and Prussia also lined up against France, although this had as much to do with international politics as their desire to defend human rights.




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