While it's true that an illegal matzo factory was recently busted in New York, it's not true that, as the old Blood Libel myth goes, Jews have baked unleavened bread (or ever cooked anything, for that matter) with human blood. In fact, Jews are not the only people who have been accused of this crime. We asked David Biale, professor and author of the recent book, Blood and Belief: The Circulation of a Symbol Between Jews and Christians, to weigh in on the subject.
The blood libel is exactly that: a libel (i.e. a false accusation). The idea that some group you don't like steals your blood is a very widespread one. It first appears aimed against Christians in antiquity, who were thought, because of the Eucharist, to actually kill children and drink their blood. In the thirteenth century, it was aimed against the Jews. But as recently as the 1980s, there were accusations that child care workers engaged in Satanic rituals of this sort and a number of people drew long prison sentences.
To this day, stories of the Jewish Blood Libel are widely printed in Muslim countries, and are kept circulating around the world in part due to the continuing translation, publication, and sale of The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. Snopes debunks the myth, and offers samples from a recent, government-approved, Saudi Arabian article.
Previously: Jews Are Not a Tribe