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."

Read more from the CNN belief blog

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. Rob

    Did she actually look up that term before spewing it out? or is this another case of leap before you look?

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

    First of All this the Pot calling the kettle Black in reference to Palin. She is absolutely responsible for feeding hate in this country that leads to incidents like in Tucson. She is also such a dimwit that she doesn't even bother to think about anything before she speaks it. She continually says offensive things again and again and never ever does she take responsibility for her actions. All she had to say was you know what, what I said in the past and what I posted on twitter and facebook with the gunsights on Democrats, you know what looking back on that was probably a bad idea and I am sorry, But know she thinks she did nothing wrong. So Yes she is absolutely responsible. Honestly I wish Sarah Palin would go back to being no body. thanks alot John McCain for unleashing this evil human being on this great Nation.

    January 12, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  3. David Rosenthal

    I don't like Palin either, but is this a joke? ADL is just a troll organization. I'm jewish. I don't find offense in this. ADL, we're a strong people and not a bunch of sissy whineys who have feelings hurt over Palin saying something stupid. Come on now.

    January 12, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  4. Seriously?

    She had no clue what the term meant or the origin of it. That is how incredibly stupid this woman is. She can not open her mouth with out offending someone. Great leader she's make for our country, eh? NOT!!!!!

    Go away Sarah. We've had more than enough of your ignorance.

    January 12, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  5. Carmelle


    Wow. That's just rich!


    January 12, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  6. EddyL

    Palin didn't write the article; her staffers did. It's obviously not her work.

    Palin may be the dumbest woman in America.

    January 12, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  7. cwj

    She is the one who has continually incited hatred by allowing it and using her own words and actions to do so. She has no one to blame but herself, and if she would have left her sorrow statement and been done instead of trying to get out from under as usual, she would have been better off. She just never knows when to let go and yet again she uses words that may hurt others! When if ever will she learn? Obviously she just doesn't take the time to edit what's been written for her or perhaps she just isn't smart enough? Again, another duhhhhhhhh from Ms. Palin!

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

    This is what you get from someone who is so uneducated and has to resort to lifting phrases from others due to that ignorance.

    Sarah Palin is dangerous precisely because she is so ignorant and fails to see or acknowledge how her lies could move beyond 'mobilizing the base' to 'inciting a mob' to violence.....

    America HAS lost its way and she out in front raking in the cash and looking pretty with a head full of rocks...

    January 12, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  9. FactCheck

    Oh she should use those words. After all, this is not about the Federal judge and nine year old girl who were killed, it's all about Sarah. I wonder where she will be peddling the "Blood Libel" t-shirts. I wonder if she even knows what "libel" means?

    January 12, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  10. harvey 60

    let's all forget the spewing from the left and the right and get down to the real issue: how did the guy get the gun legally, and why does Glock, and the gun industry, need to manufacture weapons like this for the general population's purchase? just like the loonies who displayed their assault weapons outside an Obama speech in Arizona, the NRA, the manufacturers, and their Republican staunch supporters, as well as anyone connected with the firearms licensing of this kook, must be held accountable. want a civil debate? get the guns out of the neighborhoods and into the professional hands that know how to serve and protect.

    January 12, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  11. T'sah from Virginia

    Sarah speaking out now is too little too late!! I would like to have heard her say simply “SORRY”. Sorry? Yes, sorry for what may have been an "insensitive" move on her part for showing the MAP with Crosshairs directed at Gabrielle Giffords.

    How many people expressed in the past that the Crosshair Map was inappropriate? Did she ever stop to think about Gaby Giffords who felt that all of the vandalism and harassments towards her from the Tea Party and others was a direct result of the Crosshair Map?? Sarah must have thought that because she REMOVED the Crosshair Map from the site AFTER the killings. Why? Was it because she was satisfied that the LAST person on her “hit list” was REMOVED or did she feel that leaving it there would be “insensitive.” I would think it would be the latter she was thinking.

    A Simple SORRY instead of a history lesson would have been more appropriate and maybe a visit to the family would relieve them from what they are thinking – Because in reality, that should be all that matters!!

    All of this nonsense about the hatred ALWAYS existed is not an excuse as to why it still exists today. With 24/7 news coverage; the internet; Facebook and You Tube, it allows people who probably would NEVER have spoken out in the past to hide behind their keyboard and screens and shout out all kind of HATE and bigotry.

    Finally, and the TRUE reason why the HATE is more forefront NOW than it was yesterday is because we have an African American president from Kenya that MOST from the right feel is a Muslim and NOT an American citizen………..PERIOD!!! If you don’t want to believe that, then you are blind!!! Add that to the TP and company running around the country DEMANDING to “take our country back” – which they did not do during the Bush years when they should have – and you end up with GUNS and HOLSTERS @ Town Halls; Crosshairs on Maps; and enforcing 2nd Amendment remedies if you do not get what you want out of your government.

    I will continue to support our current leader, President Obama, as he MOVE AMERICA FORWARD in a POSITIVE direction with ALL Americans in mind – not just a chosen few!!!

    January 12, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  12. BlackPanthers2020

    What does one expect from this racist vile creature , running around our country yelling " let's take our country back " . Well Ms Palin this country is not just for white people but for everyone takes all races to make this country work , and we really don't need your kind around here !

    January 12, 2011 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  13. BretLA

    Baffling, given the opportunity to apologize for even an unintended interpretation of her crosshairs, and to call for two sides to come together, she blamed everyone else and portrayed herself as a victim. She really has zero self-awareness on any level. Why do conservatives keep trying to say liberals are "blaming" her for the shooting? We are "blaming" her for the tone of her rhetoric, the truth (or lack thereof) in her statements, and the vitriole she has perpetuated. We are saying that regardless of whether Tucson happened or not, and regardless of what we have always allegedly done in terms of politics, we are saying her conduct/methodology was INAPPROPRIATE. PERIOD. She can't even bring herself to admit that she may have chosen a better way to communicate her thought. Her refusal to acknowledge an opportunity even for her own benefit further solidifies the character and limited mental processes of this politicozilla. She did herself no favors by making herself the victim yet again.

    January 12, 2011 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  14. jps

    For the second time today, I'm agreeing with a member of the GOP. Look out, there's gonna be a storm.

    Actually, I'm from Arkansas, although Huck is a smarmy, evangelistic type of guy, he's not all bad, and this is more evidence. I don't agree with him about much politically, but he is a friendly guy in person, and his wife was kind to me at an event when I was just an intern and of no use to her whatsoever. Also, there were a few times when he stood up to his own party and to other rednecks to do what he thought was right or best. Usually on the rare times that I was on his side, he was getting skewered for the very thing I agreed with.

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

    Can't we just lock Palin up in some prison and throw away the key???

    January 12, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  16. Gary

    Does this really surprise anyone that she used that term? She's a total hater and not very bright at that.

    January 12, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  17. 226178

    First sign of a guilty party is to charge the other with libel.

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

    Forgive her, she probably had no idea what the use of that word really means, remember she does not know history.

    January 12, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  19. Peter Zheutlin

    Palin is like someone who pours gasoline all over and then seeks cover when someone light the match. The issue is NOT whether there's a direct link between her rhetoric and the shootings in Tucson, there almost certainly is not. The is is whether this is the time to step back and say, "you know, in a country where a deranged psychopath has easy access to guns, maybe we should dial down the violent rhetoric and imagery." Palin, it should be remembered, said Obama "palled around with terrorists," while the nation was fighting a war on terrorism. If you are a Palin devotee with a loose screw it isn't a huge leap to think maybe it's OK in war time to take a shot a someone who hangs with terrorists. It's not just her map with the gunsights, it's her entire repertoire that is incendiary. Death panels? There never were any such thing. But if you think your government and your president are instituting "death panels" you might just be incited. Demagogues like Palin have to take some responsibility for what they say. Now she's trying to paint herself as the victim. Pathetic.

    January 12, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  20. Emma WI

    Ugh...some other minutia that the media is now slamming Sarah Palin with. So stupid. I was long a supporter & defender of Sarah Palin, but have to admit, I have been very disappointed in her over the past few months. She has not shown leadership, but rather, diminished herself to just another talking head like Limbaugh. Once again, rather than show leadership & come out with a message that mourns those lost and condemns such violence, period...she goes on a diatribe about politics. It has become clear to me that Palin is mostly concerned with her own image, and has completely lost sight of what she claims is so important to her – this great country. If she truly loved America as much as she says she does, she would act in a much more civilized and respectful manner, and try to unite the country rather than further divide us. I am sorry to say that I hope Palin was take this latest controversy as a sign to return to life as a private citizen. At this point, she is hurting the country, and not helping in any way.

    January 12, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  21. trish

    Seriously, how scared is the MSM of Palin? This lady can't even go eat some dinner without being called a racist or hate monger. What a joke! I can tell you this much........all of the liberal politicians who purposely keep minorities in cycles of poverty, by giving them just enough of other peoples money to survive but not enough to actuallly make something of themselves, but just enough to buy their vote, if you think this last midterm was a blowout just wait until 2012, it might be the end of the liberal democrat forever. Shame is all you have left, you forced laws onto taxpaying law abiding citizens who screamed at the top of thier lungs saying they did not want these laws, and you did it with backdoor deals and bribes and lies and cheating, and with the internet we all know how it all happened, now the country is in full revolt and you are blaming republicans for it? you reap what you sow, this is just the begining, I pray for all of you that no harm may come to you, and hope no more violence happens, but you forced this upon yourselves.

    January 12, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  22. jen

    she is a moron, will never understand! Does she care? of course not and will never do. She only thinks of nobody but herself, always plays a victim instead of putting the bereaved families before her – OH LORD, we have John MacCain for unleashing this woman, she does no good but divide the country with her evil rhetoric inciting race/death at any given opportunity

    January 12, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  23. johnRJ08

    "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.

    Does anybody else see an odd and overt contradiction in this statement? Palin is trying to have it both ways here. She claims that her rhetoric could not possibly have had any influence on Jared Loughner, but then she turns around and says that pundits are inciting "hatred and violence". The problem is, Ms. Palin, is that you can't suggest that your rhetoric has had no impact on the unhinged lunatics in our society, then turn around and state that journalists and pundits who are merely speculating about it can "incite" violence and hatred. Either you're both guilty, or you're both innocent of inciting. If it's the latter, then you should have kept your mouth shut. If it's the former, then you owe the entire country an apology and then a quick exit from the political spotlight.

    January 12, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  24. vikingslost

    No matter how hard Sarah Palin tries to be looked upon as Presidential material, I don't think it is catching on. I wish she would just let out a phart and get it over with.

    She might feel better about it, but it still won't get her the glory.

    January 12, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  25. waya

    Sarah still hasn't learned that sometimes its best to keep your mouth shut.

    January 12, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
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