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

    More consequences for the Lipsticked Chihuahua... this is what happens when a sk@nk thinks she can sle@ze out of the consequences of her words and actions by trying to excuse them and applying her idiotic "don't retreat, reload" mentality. It's the same as Tiger Woods and Tony Hayward tried to do, and they know exactly the consequences to be faced because of that. The quitter yapper has no clue of the meaning of the words "personal responsibility".

    January 12, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  2. Bob in PA

    The Anti-Defamation League – what a joke !
    You can't take them seriously because they do not defnd people equally. They should have released a statement two days ago condeming the speech of hundreds of people blaming Sarah Palin and using her as a scapegoat to clear their consciences of the Monster they created. Their wriings and speeh were not kind and many were of threatening nature. Lets look in a mirror all you progressives. Clean up your act and then your speech might be netter received.

    January 12, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  3. Carol

    Nothing new here in that Palin is not familiar with the term. She makes ignorance fashionable.

    January 12, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  4. Stacey, Connecticut

    Look out! The "Mamma Grizzly" is on the defensive. Too late Palin.

    January 12, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  5. Shane Botwin

    It is amazing how this intellectually deficient narcissist can turn this tragedy into a spotlight on herself. It is obvious someone helped her write her statement, because she can barely construct a simple sentence on her own. If the Republicans don't "refudiate" her soon, they deserve to go down into the ash bin of historical ignorance with her.

    January 12, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  6. mfhpr

    Just another case where this dimwit who was plucked from obscurity has proven her true worth through her ignorance. Sarah, since most of us were introduced to you 2.5 yrs ago you've had nothing positive to say and no solutions to offer. Only the ignorant are enamored with you. Otherwise, the rest of us can do without. Please stick to hunting and whatever else you might be positively productive at...

    January 12, 2011 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  7. Gamechanger

    pres·i·den·tial (prz-dnshl)
    a. Of or relating to a president or presidency.
    b. Befitting a president, especially the office of the President of the United States: The show of respect and support during a time of crises was very presidential.
    2. Of or relating to a political system in which the chief officer is a president who is elected independently of the legislature for a fixed term: a presidential government.

    presi·dential·ly adv.

    Antonym: Sarah Palin

    January 12, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  8. W Maurer

    She is too stupid to merit the coverage she receives.

    January 12, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  9. Margo

    Quite apart from the usual ignorance displayed by Palin in the English language inappropriately, why on earth should it be unfair to criticize her gross negligence in using violent imagery in her political rhetoric (gunsight cross hairs coupled with "Don't retreat – Reload"}? No one claims she is the only one who does this, although the tactic is most in evidence coming from the Right-most Republicans. There is also Angle's second amendment solutions, Bachman's armed and dangerous constituency, Jesse Kelly's rally to "Get on Target for Victory in November Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M15 with Jesse Kelly.", Glen Becks various violent revolt fantasies, including the murder decapitation of President Obama, calls fot the assasination of President Obama over the health care bill. The list goes on...

    If Gangsta rap and violent video games are counted responsible for prompting other unhinged youth to commit murder and mayhem (remember Colombine?) why should Palin, et. al. be absolved of their public responsibilities?

    January 12, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  10. Ca3799

    Open mouth, insert foot.

    January 12, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  11. cnntwiststruth

    Liberals use every Crises or Tragedy and every exuse to justify taking all of our rights away. They want our Guns, our money, our house, control of our kids and what they learn in Liberal controled schools, control what we can and can't say or listen to on the radio or TV. Decide how much we can make and the kind of car we drive, How warm we can keep our house, where we can go out to eat or what we are allowed to eat. How and where we take care of ourselves. Then when i exercise my right to say "no, leave me alone" and vote the Dems. Out. We are all Stupid White Racist Haters driven by Talk Radio, Sara Palin and Fox News who just doesn't understand the great Utopia the Liberals will provide for us.
    What confuses me even more,is that this guy was not even close to being a Right winger or Tea Partier. Did’nt listen to any talk radio or watch any news.

    He ended up being a whacko who worships a Skull and reads a Comunist manifesto and Hitler’s book. He hated the world because he couldn’t find a girlfriend or get a job long before we had a Tea Party or new of a Sara Palin. But us conservatives are just too stupid to figue it out? Maybe we should all turn over a new leaf and listen more to Kieth Olberman, or Bill Maher instead, because there's no hatred there!

    January 12, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  12. Jay

    That's right, Sarah baby....just keep opening your mouth, and digging that hole....oh, and don't let the door hit you in that fat butt when you leave.

    January 12, 2011 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  13. Rose

    And she's still hiding behind Facebook, Twitter and Glenn Beck – this woman, who thought she would be this country's vice president. Way to show your leadership skills.

    January 12, 2011 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  14. Evens

    from day one during the presidential election between John Mc
    Cain and candidate Barack Obama, I new someone would interprete what beein say by Republican John McCain and Sarah Palin. they created hate to the American people minds. Republicans are responsible for this "bloody bath". People in congress and senate are represent us, therefore, we are following their tones of what is beeing said by them. If one of our leader in congress or senate say "RELOAD DON'T RETREAT" ofcourse people will do of whats being said by Sarah Palin.


    January 12, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  15. Mi Poo

    Oh, give Sarah a break. She hasno sense of history or concept of what her words might mean. She saw that someone else had used the term, thought it sounded good, and went with it. She never considered its origins or what connotations might be associated with the phrase. You guys are giving her WAAAAY too much credit.

    January 12, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  16. SMJ

    Just goes to show – AGAIN – how stupid this woman truly is. When will she ever learn to SHUT HER BIG MOUTH??!! Thanks, John McCain, for introducing this buffoon to the international stage in 2008. The whole world laughs at the thought that she could have been VP.

    January 12, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
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