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. Bonnie

    This world could be much better off without the preaching from Sarah Palin as well as the 24/7 non-stop reporting from the medias, CNN included, of what she says, or feels. This world or universe does not evolve around her.

    January 12, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  2. firstpoppa

    So they liked what she said, but not the way she said it, because she used an expression that also has an archaic meaning beyond being unfairly accused of complicity in a violent act. Does that mean every time a politician speaks in the future everything will be put under a microscope for meanings in ancient history? Or will this apply only to certain politicians?

    Some people need to get a life.

    January 12, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  3. Palin Still Your Favorite Covergirl , CNN, or Will You Fiinally Have the Decency to Cut Her Loose?

    This woman is the most depicable example of a human being. I shudder to think that she breathes the same air we do. (Even if it is through her amphibious gills).

    January 12, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  4. Bart in Omaha

    I agree she is not responsible for this terrible act. She is, however, responsible for stirring up fear and anger for her own poitical gain. I don't think she fully understands the words she uses.

    January 12, 2011 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  5. Mike Osgood

    As an Alaskan for over 35 years, it's painful to see that Sarah seems to be imPALIN' herself with each new utterance...I really do wish the pehnomenom that is the fiormer Wasilla mayor would graciously depart the national stage with her $millions and buy Idaho or something...

    January 12, 2011 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Wasn't she labeled an "accessory to murder" seconds after the murder of 5 innocent people for political purposes. In her defense, I'd be pretty pissed off too.

    January 12, 2011 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "We wish that Palin had not invoked the phrase "blood-libel"
    Yes. I'm sure.
    We wish that McCcain hadn't INVOKED Palin in 2008.

    January 12, 2011 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  8. Ellen Hunt

    Palin deserves any criticism she gets, so does Angle, so does Bachmann, so do all of those demagogues. Yes, little girls, we know you think you're really cute when you shoot your mouths off. And just like little girls everywhere, you don't want to face the consequences when you shoot your mouth off. No, little girls, you want to be irresponsible! Yes! You demand it! No responsibility for you! That's for other people, not for privileged little girls queening it up, preening for the cameras. No, not you!

    January 12, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  9. MITConserv

    Wasn't she labeled an "accessory to murder" seconds after the murder of 5 innocent people for political purposes. In her defense, I'd be pretty pissed off too.

    January 12, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  10. Ok, as much as I hate Palin...

    If you admit she used the phrase correctly, and you claim to sympathize with her over the rhetoric thrown at her the last couple of days, Abraham, then you're really shot your argument to hell.

    January 12, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  11. FedUpRepublican

    I anxiously await her explanation for using the term “blood libel”. This is the point that’s being made over and over again, but conveniently enough, it seems to totally elude her - her words are very often incendiary and offensive. Does she remember that not long ago she was so incensed by Rahm Emmanuel’s use of the word “retard” that she demanded his firing as retribution? Is she really this dense or does she just flat out not care, just as long as the money keeps rolling in with every toxic Tweet and Facebook entry she makes. Anyway, it appears that St. Sarah is now taking on the newly created role of persecuted martyr, and this tragedy now seems to be all about her. Needless to say, I’m a long-time Republican, but I DO NOT support Sarah Palin.

    January 12, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  12. Skokie

    Things like this happen when people doesn't know when to stop talking. I figured sooner or later she would have been blamed for running her mouth.

    January 12, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  13. Livin' the god life

    Yes, just like the village idiots in the novel Frankenstein, Ms. Palin is inciting hate and outrage and there are unstable people who will act on her words...Beau Colby

    January 12, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  14. Taking Back America; One Vote At A Time

    Oh Good Grief! You silly PC Police.....why don't you just shut you Pie Hole......oh, I am sorry....I mean.....would you please attempt to refrain your vocal organs from uttering things that are insignificant.
    I, and I am sure I speak for the majority, am sick and tired of your continual bashing of Sarah Palin and all Conservatives , plus I am sick and tired of guarding my every word just to satisfy some pansy waist wannabes!

    January 12, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  15. opbilly

    well clearly she didnt write this anyway because it is coherent... but her speech writer should know better. the problem with the whole speech is that she is clearly portraying herself as the victim amd not the poor folks that were hurt and killed. she would have been better staying silent than to make herself the victim, but this is what i have come to expect from her. its all about keeping hersel out there, making her millions while she lets her sheep think she is running for president. she has the favorability of mud in the eye but will keep up her act as long as there are fools to give to her

    January 12, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  16. Cliff

    Sarah needs to back off for a while. It appears that the more she says the deeper hole she digs for herself. I don,t think the vast majority of people believe she had any remote involvment in recent events,however; it has to be said that I for one believe her rhetoric, use of targets, bullseyes,etc. can be viewed as inflamitory and sends the wrong messages as to her intent.Im sure she thinks of it as political gameship and innocent bander. She, like many other politicans go to far in their ferver to advance their own cause. I see no value in the deflamitory remarks and off color rhetoric being sent all over a media who.often are,too quick to pick up on every word and gesture and have a field day with it. Words do not kill but the harshness can incite all sorts of reactions by millions of readers who are saturated constantly, from many sources on a daily basis. The seriousness and adverse affect is avoidable with a little more restraint, by all

    January 12, 2011 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  17. Jeff/Ohio

    And her ineptitude continues........

    January 12, 2011 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  18. George

    This woman will never take the blame for what she is clearly, at least partially, responsible for. She has no morals at all. Palin is typical of the party of "personal responsibilty", which is filled with people who never do so themselves.

    January 12, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    it seems like the liberal media wastes no time to make a point (any point) on Sarah Palin....just read the titles of any Sarah Palin articles (past & present) and you will see how slanted these "reporters" can be.......especially this Jessica Yellin....oh well I guess ratings are ratings, no matter how you go about abtaining them.

    January 12, 2011 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  20. toodles

    I don't believe Palin or anyone else to blame for the shooting – only the person who pulled the trigger is. But I do believe she, and others on both sides, have contributed to the very hostile tone that dominates any kind of political discussion nowadays, and that's not healthy or productive for anyone. Common sense would tell you that violence based rhetoric should not be a part of it, yet many have and continue to do so.
    What's disappointing (but not remotely surprising) is that rather than speak up in favor of toning down the hostility and leading by example, Palin is yet again crying victim. I don't begrudge her defending herself because she is not to blame, but I don't feel she's handled it well at all.
    Can't resist, it sums it up too well: "She seems not to understand what is going on here."

    January 12, 2011 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  21. tabitha

    why doesn't this woman just shut up and go away because everything she says, does, looks at is offensive. She serves no purpose in the limelight than creating hateful thoughts, even in my mind right now as I read about her!!!!

    January 12, 2011 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  22. Fred

    Everybody wait a second; I can see Sarah floating downstream at a rapid pace!

    January 12, 2011 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  23. gemstone

    Once again Palin proves she is an arrogant idiot.

    January 12, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  24. shawna cox

    This woman is crazy! Why do we even give her the time of day?

    January 12, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  25. jeff tennis

    there's a lesson here for everyone: don't attempt to say anything intelligent or profound when you're neither intelligent or profound. every time this clown opens her mouth, she manages to sound like an idiot. hey sarah, stick with whacking fish and shooting caribou for political points. pathetic.

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