Palin criticized for using 'blood libel'
January 12th, 2011
01:47 PM ET
3 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. Moderate

    Wrongly liked her to the attacks? Let's put it this way – if she had a map of jews leaders across America she wanted removed from office, ADL what have you and had gun sight cross hairs as the targets – how would you feel then?

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

    DO YOU REALLY THINK SHE WOULD NO BETTER` Hell -Low ?

    January 12, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  3. The Choobs

    Can't blame Palin...she didn't write what she read and probably only understands about half of it. BTW, she obviouosly used a teloeprompter; it's reflected in her glasses. As usual, she comes off as an idiot and a hypocrate.

    January 12, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  4. Nadeem

    Americans have mastered the lone gunman theorey. Is it sheer coincidence that America in the ONLY inudtrialized nation to have assasinations? So Many? So Often?

    Accoridng to the right wing it is not:
    Political Rhetoric
    Access to guys
    Lack of access to healthcare (expecially mental – lets repeal that)

    So what is it? Every lone crazy in the world relocates to the US? Is it not possible, just a litte bit that those items above are contributing factors?

    January 12, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    "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."

    "It was inappropriate at the outset to blame Sarah Palin and others for causing this tragedy or for being an accessory to murder. 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,"

    Was this really needed twice?

    January 12, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  6. Diana

    She should just go home, keep her mouth shut and try and raise those kids of hers. Everytime she opens her mouth something stupid comes out.

    January 12, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  7. lauradet

    The people's blood is on your hands Palin.

    January 12, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  8. Tom

    "Blood Libel" is over Palin's head. Like most everything else that comes out of her "mouth", someone else wrote it.

    January 12, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  9. Natalie Rosen

    Yet again Palin has NO clue none whatsoever as to the choice of her words. So now not only does she insult Democrats, not understand the nature of her toxic talk but she is insulting the Jewish people as well who have had to withstand the blood libel lie perpetrated upon them in various ways for two thousand years.

    Way to go Sarah, Olbermann is right YOU ARE AN IDIOT! Did I want to tone down the rhetoric? Yes, but only if I hear a semblance of regret from the other side. I do NOT hear that. I hear more inflammatory words spewed by someone who does NOT have a clue.

    January 12, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  10. AF Vet

    So, Palin is the woman who could have become vice-president? She would have talked our country into one fiasco after another.

    January 12, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  11. Bill

    You would think that by now, this mindless loser could learn to put a lid on her blather. Thankfully, she will never hold elected office again.

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

    Run Sarah. Run!

    January 12, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  13. Beverly - NYC

    Proving again she isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer. She should stick to playing her position as the Republican party 'hot chick" and chief fund raiser. Someone has to fleece the flock who thinks she hung the moon. By reporting her every illerate utterance we are helping our lady of pertetual victimhood appear more sympathetic to her minnions. Please Please, Please, stop reporting her every word, there are other things going on in the world. I live for the day when she is as irrelevant as Joe the Plumber. Once again Thanks McCain.

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

    Way to go Sarah . What a loser

    January 12, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  15. Smart Human

    Stick a fork in her. She's Done.

    Palin is history, like Milli Vanilli.

    January 12, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  16. John in Cal

    If hate rhetoric didn't work then those that are using it now would have given it up. But it does work as we saw in this last election. So we know that those that have been spewing it will never give it up and will use it again and again. This will continue until we forcefully tell them to stop. We certainly have change, and we have seen how that change has worked with the killings.

    January 12, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  17. Oy Vey Az

    Mrs. Palin seems to have difficulty with the English language. You'd think that speech from way up in Alaska would be more lofty ... But then again, we all realize that barking like a seal has its syntactic and grammatical difficulties ... not only for seals, but for lower forms of life too.

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

    So they're offended she used 'blood libel', but support saying that those against Obamacare are perpetuating a 'holocaust'?

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

    Fox news ceo said that palin did not need to say anything else. She should have taken his advice. The more she opens her mouth the deeper she digs the hole she has dug for herself. Let her keep talking. her stupidity continues to show

    January 12, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  20. Ray Bolduc

    Could CNN get off the republican's butt, and especially Sarah Palin, for a while? You and the rest of the liberal meria have conducted a character assination for over two years. Try showing some semblance of balance of balance or even civility and pick on some of thesocialists you helped so much to elect!

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

    Is this "Blood Libel" bomb of Sarah Palin's another example of her stunning ignorance or is it another example of her commitment to provocative rhetoric using bigotry and hatred once again? I am stunned that this is how she chose to respond to the tragedy in Tuscon, as though SHE were the one that was hurt, by lashing out with more bigotry, vitriol and barely contained rage. Beware any adult who always considers themselves the victim, the flip side to that character weakness is a supreme sense of entitlement. Sarah Palin is simultaneously showing both. By using "Blood Libel" Palin has now made it about anti-Semitism...who else will she put her "sites" on in the coming weeks?

    January 12, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  22. Mad in MA

    Unreal this woman... she spends years pointing the finger at everyone but now that she's being called out it's .. whine, whine, whine, it wasn't my fault, stop picking on me. I know that 6 people are dead but you guys keep picking on me, I'm a victim (again) Typical double standard, double talk as usual Sarah. People don't care, they are tired of it and you. I'm sure you'll be back to let us all know that YOU didn't 'mean' anything by using the term 'blood libel' either.

    January 12, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  23. Tom

    No wonder the ADL is involved, they rise to every occasion when they can whine about anti-semitism

    January 12, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  24. DBA

    Once again, Sarah Palin steps smack in the middle of a steaming pile.

    A few questions to all those out there claiming that the vile, harsh and vitriolic rhetoric that has come to define our political discourse has no power to influence minds:

    1) if that is true, why have despots throughout history harnessed the power of propaganda to brand their opposition as 'traitors';

    2) why do we rail against the radical imams who use extremest speech; and,

    3) why do you continue to use it?

    If vile speech doesn't influence your followers, why bother?

    January 12, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  25. willegge

    You must be kidding right? We love you Sarah . You had every right to use that phrase, Tell these friggers to get a life.

    January 12, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
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