Palin criticized for using 'blood libel'
January 12th, 2011
01:47 PM ET
4 years ago

Palin criticized for using 'blood libel'

(CNN) – The Anti-Defamation League, an organization that combats anti-Semitism, says Sarah Palin should have used a different phrase than "blood libel" to characterize attempts to link her discourse to the Arizona shootings, the latest in a series of criticisms leveled at the former Alaska governor Wednesday over her use of the controversial term.

"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," said ADL National Director Abraham Foxman in a statement. "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."

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In her video statement posted on Facebook earlier Wednesday, Palin lashed out at Democrats and other commentators who have charged Palin and others on the right with creating an atmosphere that encourages events like that which occurred in Tucson.

"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," she said in her eight-minute video.

The term was initially used in the context of the Arizona shootings by conservative pundit Glenn Reynolds, who in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed Monday characterized efforts to link the attacks to rhetoric on the right as a "blood libel."

But the phrase itself invokes controversial connotations, referring to a long-standing anti-Semitic myth that Jews murder children for religious rituals. In present times, the term has come to be understood by some as any false accusation of murder and has recently been invoked by supporters of Israel in defense of charges the government was responsible for killing Palestinian civilians.

Palin's use of the term has opened up the former vice presidential candidate to a new round of criticism, mostly from Democrats who say Palin and her aides did not understand the negative connotations the word conjures. The usage has also touched off a fierce debate on Twitter, where "blood libel" has become a trending topic all morning.

"She seems not to understand what is going on here," House Minority Whip James Clyburn told radio host Bill Press earlier Wednesday.

"The use of this particular term in this context isn't ideal," said Jonah Goldberg of the National Review, a conservative publication. "Historically, the term is almost invariably used to describe anti-Semitic myths about how Jews use blood – usually from children – in their rituals. I agree entirely with Glenn's, and now Palin's, larger point. But I'm not sure either of them intended to redefine the phrase, or that they should have."

Foxman, in the ADL statement, also supports Palin's larger point – that commentators have wrongly linked her and other's rhetoric to the attacks.

"It was inappropriate at the outset to blame Sarah Palin and others for causing this tragedy or for being an accessory to murder," he said. "Palin has every right to defend herself against these kinds of attacks, and we agree with her that the best tradition in America is one of finding common ground despite our differences."

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights organization also "denounced" Palin's use of the term Wednesday.

"It is simply inappropriate to compare current American politics with (a) term that was used by Christians to persecute Jews," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Wiesenthal Center. "She has every right to criticize journalists without going over the top."

A Palin adviser had no further comment on the former vice presidential candidate's Facebook post.

–  CNN's Jessica Yellin and Alexander Mooney  contributed to this report.

Related: Palin says efforts to blame 'reprehensible'


Filed under: Sarah Palin
soundoff (291 Responses)
  1. bob

    Remember anything that Sarah Palin says is all about Sarah. Her apology was weak and all she did was decry what she thought was fingerpointing and forgot the other three fingers were pointing to her.

    January 12, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Sarah Palin is disgusting, plain and simple. She isn’t a lawmaker, she isn’t an elected official, she makes no policy decisions and only represents her own greed. She’s an unread, untraveled, unintelligent reality star with a Big Mouth, no intelligence and no common sense.

    Hopefully this is the end of this revolting racist, bigoted liar trash that is Sarah Palin.

    January 12, 2011 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  3. Expat American

    Sarah Palin is disgusting, plain and simple. She isn’t a lawmaker, she isn’t an elected official, she makes no policy decisions and only represents her own greed. She’s an unread, untraveled, unintelligent reality star with a Big Mouth, no intelligence and no common sense.

    Hopefully this is the end of the revolting racist, bigoted liar trash that is Sarah Palin.

    January 12, 2011 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  4. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Another Duh moment for the dope.

    January 12, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  5. Eric

    Okay, I am no fan of Sarah Palin, but this is just stupid. The same with somehow tying her or any other talking head to the shootings. The guy was a nut case, looking for a reason to be nutty. End of story.

    January 12, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  6. FM

    There she goes again! She was wrong then and she is wrong now!

    January 12, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  7. Ellie

    Sarah Palin, give it up, you can't say anything without it stirring up someone. You are and have been so hated by the left, i have to say even more than Bush.

    January 12, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  8. Scrape

    Sarah Palin quickly scrubbed her website and pulled down the graphic that had rifle-scope cross-hairs pointed directly at Gabrielle Giffords’ House district in Arizona. Her doing so constitutes an implicit admission to her own culpability in Giffords’ shooting. If she were entirely innocent, she wouldn’t have felt the need to pull down the image. Palin recognized that her own rhetoric made her complicit in this tragedy, and she responded appropriately. She scrubbed the violent rhetoric.

    January 12, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  9. Brian

    Palin should learn from this. Her spouting out what ever comes to mind has come back full circle. If Gabby wanted to sue her for being a catalyst for her shooting, she would have a case and so would Palin. She was very irresponsible with her "reload" and cross-hair analogy. Everyone is saying that this is not political but in the end, the target of the shooting is a politician, it happened at a political event and they found notes in his home with her name on them. It has roots that were born from the political climate and there really is no denying that regardless of if the shooter was mental or not.

    January 12, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  10. SP

    Honestly, had no one ever brought up the other, older, irrelevant meaning, I never would have known. Whatever. =\

    Awesome that ADL stuck up for Palin, though. Hope someone reads this comment in-between all the psychopaths saying "SHUT YOUR MOUTH" and "OLBERMANN SAID YOU DID KILL GIFFORDS SO YOU IS GUILTY."

    January 12, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  11. shadysider

    She's clueless...unless it comes to knowing how to play the role of the victim.

    January 12, 2011 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  12. JOhn

    Even if your party allegiance prohibits you from seeing the part these hate monger play in fueling, even if you refuse to admit the obvious connection, it is clear that these people, at the very best, continue to make bad decisions and demonstrate the lack of any restraint or judgment needed to be a leader in our country.
    Nothing Palin, Limbaugh or Beck said led directly to this tragedy and that was never the claim. Nothing said in a McDonalds or Coke commercial makes you buy their products, but advertising works and this has been advertising for far worse than this even for a long time now. Decent people will get it and no longer listen to these hate mongers and those that do will need to be watched with increased vigilance in hopes of spotting the next nut job that takes these people seriously,.
    .

    January 12, 2011 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  13. GDMS.REPUBLICAN

    Sarah Palin is the greatest. She would make a fantastic President. The only ones that disagree with her are the hateful people in our population. Sarah keep up the good work and do not change because of the idotic left wing goons.

    January 12, 2011 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  14. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    When Palin is separated from her money and she will be, she'll shut up.

    January 12, 2011 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  15. Gyrogearloose

    For what it's worth, 'blood libel' is not a term that I'm familiar with. While I'm no fan of Palin's, I'd be hard pressed to criticize her for using a term that may not be commonly viewed as offensive.

    January 12, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  16. Denker

    The creator of the biggest fantasies since the "Wizard Of Oz" with her "death panels", Obama's alleged terrorist friend and so on and so on is now, oh so very furious over allegations that have at least some distant rooting in reality?

    The heroine of simple views is molding her truth as she pleases.

    January 12, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  17. Observer

    "She seems not to understand what is going on here,"

    Says it all.

    January 12, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  18. Joshua Ludd

    As usual, Palin doesn't understand the meanings of the words and phrases she uses. But don't worry... she wouldn't dare back down from it. Just as she won't back down from her repeated uses of gun imagery and rhetoric.

    January 12, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  19. willie

    Sarah Palin is suffering from a serious case of foot in mouth disease. It seems that idiotic statements are not a choice to her, but a lifestyle. She has become a lightning rod for hate.

    January 12, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  20. tracey

    i can guarantee she had no idea!!!

    January 12, 2011 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  21. chrishegarty

    CNN needs to stop being so charitable. Sarah Palin is being criticized because she is, to put it bluntly, terrible.

    January 12, 2011 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  22. T

    Someone wrote that for her..........she did not read it .......she probably dont know the meaning.
    Same Palin.........always shooting from the hip........never from her heart.

    January 12, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  23. Greg

    An 8 minute non-apology following an American tragedy is more Bin Laden-esque than even Sarah Palin. Her precarious use of gunsights was poor judgment and she'd earn an ounce of respect if she would admit that.

    January 12, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  24. NObama

    Liberals first falsely link her actions to shooting without facts, and its still opportunistic conjecture from the liberals. She defends herself and rightly so, and more liberal hacks pick out a phrase that in context means no harm. Liberals are so desperate to advance their failing agenda that they see this hideous attack as their best chance. Sad and desperate!

    January 12, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  25. JP

    You're giving this woman too much credit. Do you really think she came up with "blood libel" all by herself,or even read the Wall Street Journel?

    January 12, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
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