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The First Persecution

In response to:

Scapegoats from the January 19, 1989 issue

To the Editors:

In the review of The Myth of Ritual Murder by R.P. Hsia [NYR, January 19], your reviewer states that the first recorded persecution of Jews accused of ritual murder occurred in Norwich, England; that it is the only English case on record; and, from this, he moves to the fourteenth century with commonplace accusations in the Holy Roman Empire.

Far from absolving England, it should be noted that these accusations with deadly consequences for the Jewish community occurred more frequently in English cities.

It is true that the first recorded case occurred in Norwich in 1144. Norwich has also an accusation recorded in 1234. Lincoln has its accusation in 1255; in addition there was the accusatory inscription over the “Little St. Hugh” tomb, which was replaced by a new version in 1959.

There were also ritual blood/murder accusations with Jewish massacres in London in 1130, 1244, and 1281. Also in Gloucester in 1168.

In Winchester the first occurred in 1192, and a series of accusations and programs from 1225 to 1235.

I.W. Gittleman, MD
Long Beach, California

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