I claim no expertise in contemporary art, so this must be the reason why I have never heard the name of the Italian painter Giovanni Gasparro. But I know for sure that we Jews do not use the blood of Christian children to bake matzah. Gasparro must be of a different opinion: he has just completed a painting entitled “The Martyrdom of St. Simon of Trento in Accordance With Jewish Ritual Murder”.
For those who don’t know, Simon was a child, who drowned in 1475 in Trent around Passover. The local Jewish community was rounded up, and all tortured until they “confessed” to have murdered the child, because—they were forced to confess— Judaism demands a bit of blood from a Christian child to be added to the dough, in order to have proper matzahs.
The macabre legend dates back several centuries. It caused Jews endless suffering in Medieval England as well as in contemporary Syria. Of the whole genre, the story of Simon of Trent is the most popular: by proclaiming him a martyr, the Catholic Church gave to the legend a patent of truth.
Over the last decades, the story of Simon of Trent has become contentious. Liberal currents in the Catholic Church, have debunked it with some success: the Catholic museum, in Trent, hosts a permanent exhibition which calls out the whole lie.
But conservative factions have turned that veneration into a rallying cause. They claim that the truculent story is true and that a Jew-led conspiracy is trying to hide the truth. Such a conspiracy is part of a concerted assault against the Church, led by Jews, Protestants, and Freemasons.
This is, by all means, the paranoid worldview to which the painter Gasparro subscribes. It is not by chance that you can see, on his Facebook page, portraits of Right-wing Catholic politicians wearing Crusader’s insignia, and Catholic inquisitors cleansing the world from Muslims and Protestants.
Plus, of course, the now-famous piece of antisemitic propaganda. Which has been rightly condemned by Catholics and Jews, although it remains to be seen how many bishops will continue to commission this antisemitic artist’s works, to embellish churches (this seems to be his main field of operation).
It’s not surprising to see how many Traditional Catholics have flocked on Gasparro’s Facebook page in his defense. He’s one of them, after all. Slightly more perplexing, is to see that many Nazi trolls, or as they fancied to be called today “Alt-Righters” have joined forces with their childish blots and daubs, such as the three parentheses to call someone Jewish. Their taste for obscenity does not mix well with the strict Catholic doctrine in matters of sexuality. Not to mention the fact that Martin Luther, in those circles, is held in high esteem for his antisemitic writings, while the piously Catholic Gasparro has portrayed the founder of Reformation next to a pig.
But these are very minor differences when you have to build a common front against the powerful Zionist lobby. This must be the same thought that crosses the minds of those pro Palestinian militants, who are running to help in support of the artistic merits of Giovanni Gasparro. The quantity of Palestinian flags in the appreciative comments is indeed astonishing.
Be they Nazi, traditional Catholics or pro-Palestinian enthusiasts (none of which, to be honest, have adopted an Arabic sounding name), the fans of Giuseppe Gasparro bounce back every attempt to question their favorite story, in precisely the same way. They all mention Gaza and the “real Holocaust” that they believe, is taking place there.
This is not surprising: if you believe that Judaism prescribes to slaughter a child every year around Pesach, you are also most likely to believe that this is precisely what is happening in Gaza. Those evil Jewish soldiers are continuing the work that the Jewish community in Trent and many other Jewish communities have done, throughout history: murdering children because this, for them, is a religious commandment.
It is a bitter irony that allegedly rational individuals and self-proclaimed atheists, believe a bloody legend born and grown in a religious environment. But this is precisely what happens every time on social media, or somewhere else, where a piece of fake news appears about the last Palestinian child slaughtered by Jewish soldiers: an ancient antisemitic canard reappears in new clothes.
Reporters from the Middle East, know very well, that some of the readers believe that Jews kill Christian children in order to use the blood religious purposes. Why do they enforce the prejudice, rather than helping to debunk it?