Palin Slammed for Using ‘Blood Libel’ Term
01/12/11
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(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."

Last Update:

01/13/2011 - 13:51

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Wait to see the updated version of this JTA story. This has only quotes from highly partisand Democrats. The updated version has quotes representing other points of view.
Following up on commentator Jonathon Mark's suggestion, I went to JTA.org midday 1/13 and found the updated article included citations from other than Democratic officials, including the following: QUOTE The Anti-Defamation League said it was inappropriate to blame Palin after the Tucson shooting and said she had every right to defend herself. But, the organization noted in a statement, “We wish that Palin had not invoked the phrase ‘blood libel’ in reference to the actions of journalists and pundits in placing blame for the shooting in Tucson on others. While the term ‘blood-libel’ has become part of the English parlance to refer to someone being falsely accused, we wish that Palin had used another phrase, instead of one so fraught with pain in Jewish history.” The question, said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a communications expert at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School, was whether using a charged term like blood libel reinforced Palin’s legitimate argument at the unfair targeting of the right wing in the days after the shooting – or whether using the term undercuts the point. “It distracts from her argument, which is thoughtful,” Jamieson told JTA. “If you are trying to get an audience to rethink, you don't inject this particular historic analogy.” The fallback defense for Palin’s acolytes was that while the use of the phrase might be overwrought, she is hardly the first to commit this sin. Jim Geraghty, a correspondent at the conservative National Review, cited an extensive list of its uses over the past 10 years, though practically no elected officials were on it. Jamieson, who conducted a similar search, found that invoking the term in political argument is usually the province of bloggers and polemicists, not those who have held high political office or aspire to it. Voices across the Jewish religious and political spectrums, from the Reform movement to the Orthodox Union, and from liberals to conservatives, echoed the ADL’s statement. “The term ‘blood libel’ is so unique, and so tinged with the context of anti-Semitism, that its use in this case -- even when Ms. Palin has a legitimate gripe -- is either cynically calculated to stimulate media interest or historically illiterate,” Noam Neusner, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, wrote on Pundit Wire. “It is therefore distracting to Ms. Palin’s underlying message, which is one of sympathy for the victims and outrage that she and others are being accused of inspiring a mass murderer.” END QUOTE For the record, Nathan Diamant, Orthodox Union Public Policy Director, wrote, in part, "I am not offended by Ms. Palin's resort to this response, I think her to be a friend of Israel and the Jewish people. But to my ears, her response keeps our political and civic discourse in the gutter. It does not try to lead Americans to a better place, which might offer the most modest measure of comfort that the victims in Tucson did not die and suffer completely in vain." (See: http://onfaith.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/Nathan_Diament/2011/01/sarah_palins_invocation_of_blood_libel.html ) I would say that dismay at Ms. Palin's disturbing language should not be a partisan issue, just as her targeting Congressional Democrats' districts with gun sites represents a disturbing symbolism. Those who leap to her defense on these matters have lost their ethical bearings.
If anyone should know about blood libels, it would be Jeremy ben-Ami. Spare me the sanctimony!
Maybe the editors should change the headline of this article to "Palin Slammed by Extreme Leftists for Using 'Blood Libel' Term"?
Chuzpa; blood libel belongs to us, like the Holocaust and the whole of the Middle East from the Tigress to the Euphrates. And you are so right to stress the Jewishness of the victim (who isn't Jewish) and ignore the Jewishness of the assassin (who is). I always say, there is nothing like fair reporting!

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