Palin, 'blood libels' and our own culpability
01/12/2011 - 11:57
James Besser

Sorry, I'm not going to join those jumping all over Sarah Palin for her use of the term “blood libel” in referring to those claiming that the right is at fault in Saturday's Tucson massacre.

No, it's no accurate; “blood libel” has a very particular, chilling meaning. It's a stupid comparison, and not just a little offensive.

But Palin is hardly alone in using it as a synonym for “unfair charges.”

You hear it almost every day in the Israeli press, referring to just about anybody who the speaker disagrees with. You hear it in American politics, emanating from the right, the left and folks in between.

Sadly, it is part of the devaluation of the language of Jewish history. Holocaust and Nazi allusions are almost everyday occurrences, referring to politicians we don't like, proposals we see as dangerous, foreign threats like Iran – the list is pretty much endless.

In Israeli politics, the blood libel charge is something you apply to just about anything someone says about you that you think isn't true. I searched for the phrase in Ha'aretz; there were hundreds of hits, with the term being used for everything from BBC coverage of Israel to criticism of the Orthodox, and only occasionally in a more or less appropriate context - like in the case of charges Israel forces harvest and sell Palestinian organs.

But in most cases it's just another political throwaway - hyped up rhetoric meant to create an immediate impact. Unfortunately, what it also does is devalue the real meaning of a term that is important in our history.

Yeah, Palin's use of the term was obnoxious. But before we criticize, we should clean up our own house.

Comments

The woman has received thousands of messages over the last few days accusing her of being the cause of a shooting that had nothing to do with her. People are saying the blood of a nine year-old girl is on her hands. She's been getting death threats and who knows what else. For what? For nothing. People just decided to blame her for it just because they hate her. If I were in her position, I'd be using all sorts of words and expressions in ways they probably shouldn't be used....
Who are these Americans on the left and in the middle who use "blood libel" language like Palin does?
A favorite liberal nudnick, Alan Dershowitz, during one of his few moments of sanity, has defended Ms. Palin on the blood libel mishagais. Ever listen to that creep Chris Matthews on MSLSD? He said someone needs to put a "pellet" into Rush Limbaugh to blow him up. And how about the schlemiel-in-charge who temporarily, very temporarily, inhabits the White House? A typical comment to a latino audience: we need to fight the enemy. Now, whom did he mean by enemy -- the woman who prepares his gefulte fish for Pesach? Idiots like Behar, Whoopie Goldberg (the fact that this meeiskeit carries a Jewish name is a chilul H'shem), Keith Overbite, Maddow, etc. drip with venom. I also recall Alex Baldwin's urging a few years back that his audience rise from their seats and rush out to kill Congressman Henry Hyde, and for good measure, his whole family. Wake up and smell the chrain, pal.
It was a poor choice of words by Sarah, but Anonymous poster's comment above is an example of libelous "truthiness" to which she objects and on that, like it or not, she has a point. The gunman was influenced by Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto...not Sarah Palin and it is wrong, unethical, inflammatory and probably unhalachic to lay the blame on her as several columnists and pundits have done. Jon Stewart's speech the other night was phenomenal. It's only a shame that he didn't heed his own advice after Katrina in 2005 when, reacting to politicians NOT wanting to play the blame game, he asserted those who don't want to focus on the blame are the ones to blame (and we found out later that he actually blamed the wrong people).
Just because others use the term irresponsibly doesn't mean we shouldn't criticize Palin for using this term. That would be like saying we shouldn't tell our children when they do something wrong because after all, we do wrong things too. This kind of thinking brings every one down to the lowest level. Where Palin is. You can start criticizing the others who abuse the word. But Palin shouldn't get a bye on this.
For goodness sake, that is NOT the point. The point is that Sarah Palin, whose awful rhetoric and ongoing use of words associated with guns, violence, and ammunition, created an environment where the gunman thought that violence was "ok." She uses a term that she knew or should have known would offend the sensibilities of millions. She could have and should have chosen her words more carefully. but as usual, she (no pun intended) shoots from the hip ... further proof she is not fit to lead our great country. And I'm equally offended that you are trying to defend her by saying "well, we use it too." Sorry, doesn't add up/
She wasn't the first to use it in relation to the massacre. Others have been using it the past couple of days. I'd rather have someone who mixes up an expression but supports Israel - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIDUiecW6t0
I agree with you for sure. Let her go back to ALASKA where is belongs and use hateful phrases up there maybe they appreciate it

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