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. Bill

    Hey Palin, how's that opening your mouth, thingy working out for ya?? Maybe you should try keeping it shut and then maybe incidents like Tuscon wouldn't happen

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

    can she get any more stupid?

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

    Yet another shining example of rhetoric from Sarah Palin that will secure her place in history's Hall of Twits. Bravo.

    January 12, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  4. orange99

    Please just be quiet for awhile.
    Thank you.

    January 12, 2011 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  5. JWR

    Propoganda is rhetoric. Hateful rhetoric towards others is propoganda. It is inciteful and that is a fact. Looking back over the history of the world, propoganda or hateful rhetoric is at the root of most tragedies. When people speak hate and have the mentality of us against them instead of promoting their own ideas, good or bad, society suffers.

    January 12, 2011 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  6. Chris

    Sarah will be forever linked to this tragedy because of the concern expressed by Gabrielle Giffords words in her video from March 2010. “Sarah Palin has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district and when people do that, they've gotta realize there are consequences to that action." - Gabrielle Giffords, March 2010. 2. NOTHING Sarah and her friends say or do is going to change that. Sarah , As you sow so shall you reap.

    January 12, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  7. Just one of many with a brain in my head

    Ignorance is purposeful stupidity. It's the same as using jewd, gypped, jerry rigged, or other such phrases. Sure, it's become "common" parlance in the English language, but does that make it any more acceptable? I think not!

    January 12, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  8. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    Poor Sarah just can't seem to get ANYTHING right lately. But I'm sure her legion of fans will be here to support her as usual. I don't know what is more entertaining anymore the people that post here to bash Sarah or the ones that post here to defend her.

    January 12, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  9. Buck Jackson

    Everybody! Give the broad a break! You know she did not come up with the term on her own. Somebody else did and in Palin fashion, she ran with it having no idea what it meant or the origin.

    January 12, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  10. Mackie

    The woman honestly doesn't get it, or she is dumber than I thought. Either way, she needs to go away.

    January 12, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  11. johnRJ08

    Palin ALWAYS counterattacks. No hint of regret. No admission of the slightest responsibility for anything. Her refusal to show even a hint of remorse for her past rhetoric and, especially, for putting Giffords' district in her telescopic sight cross-hairs, is astoundingly pig-headed, even for Palin.

    It doesn't matter if her clever gun metaphors actually contributed to Jared Loughner's mindset. The mere perception that it might have triggered his paranoid, psychopathic rampage should have been enough for Palin to express a modicum of regret. Her constant attacks on the government and persistent claims about "death panels" has obviously managed to create paranoia in many of her followers. Who is to say that Jared Loughner didn't pick up on that when he decided to assassinate Gabby Giffords following her re-election last November?

    Palin's refusal to acknowledge this potential connection, however slim it might be, will go down in US history as the most self-destructive statement ever made by a politician.

    January 12, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  12. Doug

    I don't think that criticism of Palin or anyone else that matter for using terms and visuals that have violent undertones or meanings should be dismissed or criticized. There ARE crazy people out there that may get the wrong message. Anyone running in politics, nevermind this incident, should be aware of the power of there speech and how they illustrate things. I don't think it's rediculous to ask politicians to refrain from using symbols of violence when illustrating offices or districts they would like to gain control of. Why do guns or violent imagry need to be a part of American political startegy? What's the purpose of using a cross-hair when a simple crossed out circle would do? The fact that they use these types of symbols of violence only makes you wonder what their intentions are? Are they a threat? If Barack Obama put cross-hair symbols on a picture of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck would they not respond to it as being inappropriate? I think so.

    January 12, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  13. cel

    hey, she met Billy Graham once, that makes her a christian and they are always right. Right ?
    She needs to go sit down and figure out that what she stands for is anything but Christian in nature. Then, she needs to just go away and stop doing and saying whatever it takes to make herself richer.

    January 12, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  14. Marco

    Does she know Giffords is Jewish. Sometimes silence is the best answer to ignorance.

    January 12, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  15. Liberal4Obama

    Someone please tell Miss Palin she is NOT jewish a.k.a an oppressed minority.

    January 12, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  16. GI Joe

    SHE'S AN IDIOT. CNN PLEASE stop inciting hate by posting PALIN PALIN PALIN PALIN. YOU ALL are stirring up the hate and inciting. Take responsibility and STOP IT.

    January 12, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  17. Ken in NC

    That woman is one of the most disgusting politicians out there today. After attending 4 or 5 different colleges for one degree, she has yet to master the english language and even further, she has yet to aquire the ability to properly structure a complete sentence. She is mean spirited with a "Snap Back Attitude". She is one who is always the innocent victim and it's always someone elses fault. John McCain should be ashame of himself for unleashing such a vile evil woman on our nation.

    January 12, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  18. ChiTownArkie

    Once again SP shows that she is still not ready for prime time. The half-governor continues to elicit stupid and ignorant remarks without any understanding of the subject. While Palin, the Rs, and the T-party did not directly come out to say that someone should be shot, they are the only ones making statements that are inflammatory. "Take out Harry Reid", "Don't retreat, reload", "I want my constituents to be armed and dangerous". They are the only ones that openly bring guns to political rallies and town hall meetings. Is there any wonder that some nut case (even if it wasn't Loughner) could just go postal while trying to be a martyr for the cause? What would be the harm if just one actual leader of the right would stand up and say "enough is enough and we won't tolerate any more of this diatribe". All we would need is one leader on the right that has the balls to do it. Is there anyone? ANYONE?

    January 12, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  19. David, CA

    With every veiled attack, she puts her foot in her mouth again and again. just QUIT Sarah. Again.

    January 12, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |

    The girl can't help it, she thrives on this type of controversy. It is what keeps her alive and living as a millionaire.

    January 12, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  21. John

    Please run for president Sarah! O please run! You will be hugely defeated by Barack Obama and finally, I hope, you will disappear into a doughnut shop, where your opinions will never be heard again.

    January 12, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  22. marie md

    You were doing better when you were keeping your stupid mouth shut! Anyone else you want to insult? 🙁 give it up. Your 15 minutes are finally over!!!!! 🙂

    January 12, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  23. maine liberal

    it was so nice to have 4 palin free news days

    January 12, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  24. martianmelaine

    Sarah Palin compared herself to a victim of blood libel. Blood libel refers to religious minorities (usually Jews) falsely accused of murdering children. It's okay to laugh, this woman is an idiot.

    January 12, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  25. Realitychecker

    Hey Sarah.......YOU are not a victim here......Best thing you can do is keep your trap shut..If that's possible.

    January 12, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
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