(JTA) -- Sarah Palin's use of the term "blood libel" to decry blaming conservatives for the Arizona shooting has raised the ire of the Jewish community.
In a video statement released Wednesday, Palin said that “Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them. Especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.”
The blood libel refers to accusations that began in the Middle Ages that Jews used the blood of murdered Christian children to make matzah for Passover.
"The blood libel is something anti-Semites have historically used in Europe as an excuse to murder Jews -- the comparison is stupid," Hank Sheinkopf, a Jewish New York-based Democratic political consultant told Politico. "Jews and rational people will find it objectionable. This will forever link her to the events in Tucson. It deepens the hole she’s already dug for herself. … It’s absolutely inappropriate.”
Palin has been criticized since the shooting for using images of a gun crosshair to identify vulnerable districts in the November elections, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was shot in the head and seriously injured in the Jan. 8 attack at a Tucson shopping mall that left six dead and at least a dozen injured.
J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami criticized Palin's use of the term blood libel.
"We hope that Governor Palin will recognize, when it is brought to her attention, that the term 'blood libel' brings back painful echoes of a very dark time in our communal history when Jews were falsely accused of committing heinous deeds," he said in a statement. "When Governor Palin learns that many Jews are pained by and take offense at the use of the term, we are sure that she will choose to retract her comment, apologize and make a less inflammatory choice of words."
David Harris, the president and CEO of the National Jewish Democratic Council, said that "All we had asked following this weekend's tragedy was for prayers for the dead and wounded, and for all of us to take a step back and look inward to see how we can improve the tenor of our coarsening public debate. Sarah Palin's invocation of a 'blood libel' charge against her perceived enemies is hardly a step in the right direction."
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