After peddling blood libel, Russian priest denies anti-Semitism

A Russian Orthodox Church panel is claiming that the execution of the czar’s family was a Jewish ritual murder, while saying that such a claim is not anti-Semitic.

By: AP

The head of a Russian Orthodox Church panel looking into the 1918 killing of Russia’s last czar and his family says his statement that it is investigating whether it was a ritual murder has no anti-Semitic connotations.

Father Tikhon Shevkunov said Thursday that he was only talking about the “ritual revenge of atheist Bolsheviks” and never implicated the Jews.

Earlier this week, he said many in the church panel are convinced that the killings were “ritual murder.” That drew an angry response from Russia’s largest Jewish group, which denounced the words as a revival of anti-Semitic myths.

Nicholas II, his wife and their five children were executed by a Bolshevik firing squad on July 17, 1918, in a basement room of a merchant’s house where they were held in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg. The Russian Orthodox Church made them saints in 2000.

Some Christians in medieval Europe believed that Jews murdered Christians to use their blood for ritual purposes, something which historians say has no basis in Jewish religious law or historical fact and instead reflected anti-Jewish hostility in Christian Europe.

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The speculation that they were killed by the Jews for ritual purposes long has been promoted by anti-Semitic groups.

Boruch Gorin, a spokesman for the Federation of Jewish Communities, Russia’s largest Jewish group, expressed a strong concern about the claims that he described as a “throwback to the darkest ages.”