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. lenoirlady

    Sarah Palin is quite simply poor white trash with new money and no class whatsoever. She is making money off the people who equal her in those same "qualities".

    January 12, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  2. Vet in TX

    I was wondering why I woke up Monday morning and saw several "little people" dancing around a fallen house with shoeless women's legs in stockings with moose on them, now I understand totally. She's done, regardless of the intent, the majority has seen her for who she's always been, a person who riles up their base, nothing more, nothing less. Unfortunately, an American used "second amendment remedies" on a congresswoman who had a target on her district!

    January 12, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  3. Joseph C

    Wow. Does this woman know anything about ANYTHING?

    January 12, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  4. Geoff

    No way on Gods green earth Sarah wrote that herself. The woman has show over and over she can't string a complete, coherant sentence together. I'm glad she's staying true to form. Hopefully more people will realize what a fraud she truly is. Had she taken some well deserved responsibility for her words I might have felt a little differently.

    January 12, 2011 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  5. KathyC in Minnesota

    After listening to the speech, this was written for her, not by her.

    Sarah Palin continues to show any responisibilty for her words spoken in the past, nor her true understanding of the English Language.

    January 12, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  6. FLOP

    Even the people who write all her garbage are as idiotic as she is!!

    January 12, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  7. Perplexed

    Palin is an idiot and everytime she opens her mouth she proves it.

    January 12, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  8. 10characters

    Poor Sarah. Can't catch a break. It seems to me, that since she so carefully avoids having to actually answer questions off-the-cuff or speak spontaneously by relying on web-posts and tweets, she would do at least a little due diligence before she pops off. Either she knew exactly what the phrase "blood libel" would evoke and did it anyway (dumb) or someone suggested it and she did not bother to fact-check (dumber) or she just doesn't care (dumbest). It took less than a minute or two to research the phrase and see that it had a depth of meaning that meant it should be used with sensitivity and caution. I'm happy to hear from her - the more she talks or tweets or posts, the more opportunity for people to see how she is totally unprepared for any public office.

    January 12, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  9. Palin is an IDIOT

    this IDIOT Palin keeps spewing hatred and bigotry at every little opportunity she gets:

    "death panel"
    "dont retreat, RELOAD
    "palling with terrorist"
    now, its "blood libel"

    words have consequences....and im glad to see that true Americans are finally calling her out on her BS!

    January 12, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  10. Dan

    Sometimes in certain situations, it's a good thing just to remain silent. I think we all should just send good thoughts.

    January 12, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  11. Peggy - TX

    yes, her speak writer should have used more care in drafting Palin’s comments. However it does not chnage the COLD, HARD REALITY that BUT FOR the environment she and others, who are all equally culpable, created the mentally ill young man likely would not have come to believe that he would be hailed as a hero of the republic for employing 2nd Amendment remedies to correct the outcome of a political election.

    January 12, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  12. k

    Wow, Sarah, nothing from you in days, when you usually jump on the attack, then today was just un called for.

    January 12, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  13. Alex from Middletown, NY

    When words are spoken like "don't retreat, reload" or asking people to be "armed and dangerous" or even envoking "bullets if ballots don't work" is beyond the realm over what our political rhetoric should be. Nobody can blame such words for being the sole resaon for a sick individual to do what he did, but if you don't believe they were one of many contributing factors to pushing him over the edge then you have blinders on. The hateful rhetoric spews from both sides of the aisle and if this is not the time for everyone to step back and tone it down, then when? Mentally disturbed individuals are not limited to one political idealogy. Both sides better wake up and sieze this moment to end the vitriol before it's too late. It would be a wonderful way to honor the memory of a 9 year old girl that loved her country and wanted to do her part to make it a better place for all of us.

    January 12, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  14. BDA

    When, oh when, will Half Governor Palin learn to keep her mouth shut? Nothing she can possibly say now is going to make this situation any better. How in the world ANYBODY can support this bimbo is beyond me!

    January 12, 2011 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  15. Tom in Wheaton

    When are we all going to assign messages from Sarah Palin to go immediately to the "Junk" mailbox. She hasn't a clue about any of the real issues facing America in the 21st century and is certainly not worthy of being "followed" in ANY sense of the word. She is pretty and wears very expensive glasses. That ends her contribution to society.

    January 12, 2011 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  16. Donald in CA

    Nothing has changed my mind that dick cheney, sarah palin and other such dividers are evil and bad for the country. All of this started with the fact that a black president is running the country. I will not be attending any pat buchanan pity parties for sarah.

    January 12, 2011 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  17. jerseylou

    SURPRISE.....Palin tell ypur speech writers nice try but it's not going to fly. Palin GOD don't won't you,the American People don't won't you and the DAMN DEVIL has slam the door in your face. BTW get ready for the LAWSUITS there definitey coming.

    January 12, 2011 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  18. B in Wasilla

    Sarah can whine all she wants about being linked to these shootings BUT at some point she needs to get it through her thick skull that words have consequences and her words need to be more thought out. Shee has a bad case of Big Thoughtless Mouth in the worse way.

    January 12, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  19. beevee

    Palin is an ignoramous idiot. She blurts out what her handlers give her to say. I don't think she even knows what she is talking about. You have to forgive her ignorance.

    January 12, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  20. justsaying

    Arizona Republicans Resign

    Sarah Palin logic

    $412 Billion Advertising & Marketing Budget US

    2008 Words have no influence...I wonder way so much is spent?

    January 12, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  21. JJ

    It's amazing, just when I thought she couldn't possibly be any dumber......bam, she takes it up another level.

    January 12, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  22. Maggie

    I don't think we are blaming her directly, what we are trying to make her understand that her words will incite violence because they carry a subliminal message to those unstable minds, therefore, she is partially responsible even if she does not recognize it,

    January 12, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  23. NewsGuide

    Ever since Bill Kristol pushed Sarah Palin's name forward to the Republican elders as McCain's running mate, she's shown her ability to whip people up. I'm not so sure, though that this response helps her even do that. Doubling down is probably not as wise a strategy as simply expressing sympathy and regret. A "normal" person would expect that in this situation and her supporters are normal.

    January 12, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  24. Dan Holiday

    You gotta love the left. First they accuse her of being responsible for the shooter's mindset, then when she tries to defend herself and point out the disgusting behavior of the media and the leftist pols, they bash her for using the "wrong" words. Me thinks the liberals are overly obsessed with this powerful woman...haha.

    January 12, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  25. ingrid

    I am not a fan of Palin, and do not think her cross hairs and encouragement of nasty rhetoric has a place in our society, but I think in fairness, as she was defending herself against the recent links people are making btw herself and the congresswoman. I really do not think she meant to malign anyone of the Jewish faith.

    January 12, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
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