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. d

    yes, but...Sarah has been known to be nasty to anyone who does not stand with her. She never takes responsibility for controversy or pain she inflicts on others. Freedom of speech only applies to her.

    January 12, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  2. Little Tin God

    When will she learn that every time she opens her mouth, she shoves her foot into her mouth up to her hip? She should fire the idiot that wrote her so called statement. Unless she was the idiot, which is seriously doubtful.

    January 12, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  3. Catherine

    Will Palin ever learn?

    In the days leading up to the shooing, Rep. Gifford, who is Jewish, expressed concern about the heated rhetoric and her desire to change the tone of discourse.

    There is video footage of Rep. Gifford expressing concern over Palin’s “crosshairs” maps showing the various districts on Palin’s hit list, including Rep. Gifford’s district.

    Yet, Palin insists on agitating the situation by issuing an inflammatory video that uses the offensive term “blood libel”; Palin is of course so ignorant she doesn’t realize the historic implication to the Jewish people.

    Palin also rambles on about the first amendment; again, she shows ignorance on the subject as the courts have long recognized limits to freedom of speech where public safety and national security—which is a form of public safety, are concerned.

    If public figures on the right fail to understand the consequences of inciting and hatful language, it’s the responsibly of us reasonable Americans to step forward and say, enough is enough.

    The time has come for the voices of reason to step forward and have our voices heard. There are rational voices out there than any the brash, irrational, radicals who have promoted going to town hall meetings with guns slung around their waists and tucked into their boots. It’s time the voices of reason and sanity took responsibility for this country—enough is enough.

    When we murder a 9 year old child for the sake of partisan politics, we simply have lost all sense of sanity and humanity.

    January 12, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  4. LW

    Ms. Palin simply needs to keep her mouth shut.

    January 12, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  5. Doug

    I'm getting tired of the denial of responsibility, etc by the Tea Partiers. We know the killer is an anti-government, independent. What group, by their own definition is anti-government, independent that repeatedly used rhetoric & images of guns & violence. It's amazing they don't understand why people are connecting these two, very closely aligned dots. If the anti-government, independent groups don't want to be connected to violent actions of anti-government, independent individuals then they shouldn't include guns & and calls to violence in their campaigns rhetoric.

    January 12, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  6. lisaspups

    I keep hearing about how the hate speech has no link to what happened in Tuscon. I beg to differ. Much like the tobacco industry's argument that cigarettes do not cause cancer, anyone with a lick of sense knows that it contributes to it. Now, what Palin, or anyone for that matter, allegedly said or posted, may not have caused the tragedy, but, again, any one with a lick of sense would have to admit that it certainly contributed to it.

    Sarah Palin's lack of intelligence and class is apparent in her unwillingness to own up to her mistakes.

    January 12, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  7. TangledThorns

    To use Sarah Palin and a tragedy to push their losing leftist agenda is blood libel. Shame on the liberals to create another false controversy.

    January 12, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  8. vic nashville tn

    Palin need a vacation, Palin go away

    January 12, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  9. dem forever in nc

    Can't abide this woman. She never should have used the cross hairs picture to begin with. It serves to incite politically ignorant and narrow minded fools. Especially those that are paranoid about the Government.Admit your poor judgement Sarah and go away!!!!!

    January 12, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  10. You See, Sarah Is The Victim, here . . .

    It's all about Sarah; nothing else matters. . .

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

    Of course she "doesn't know what's going on here...", need we be reminded that she just isn't very bright!

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

    You know, I have no comment for anyone who continue to post this woman comments. Understand Sarah Palin do not comprehensive the issues we are having in America, her education level is to low. I hold CNN and any other responsible for this woman. PLEASE LET DO AMERICA A FAVOR AND DO NOT POST ANY COMMENts BY HER. SHE IS NOT IN OFFicial

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

    So after all the hype of your headline, the guy at the ADL agrees with Sara Palin about the hysteria the Dems and the Liberal Media have started. The only paragraph worth reading in this piece is the last one:

    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."


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

    Just plain tired of this Stupid Woman and her Stupid comments

    January 12, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  15. The Real Tom Paine

    Foxman is correct that blaming Palin is wrong, and is a reflexive reaction at best. However, this is yet another example of her lack of empathy, understanding, and education, so it begs the question as to whether she will ever be ready to be take seriously by the independents in the country who will determine who gets elected. She has rarely sought the common ground she talks about, but instead seeks the celebrity and fame of a leader without the responsibility that goes with it.

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

    Sarah must really be dangerous as the left loonies are so very, very scared of her. They took a beating last November and know who was responsible for that. The TRUTH! That is what dem tards are afraid of and are blaming everyone not of the color YELLOW for their shortcoming. The Tea Party is here to stay! Get used to it MORONS!

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

    Lets get real. She did not write her statement. That was written by someone else, just like most politicians. Expecting her to understand most of what is written however is another topic in itself.

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

    In the reflection of her glasses is the TelePrompTer , her lips pass a voice so lacking in true compassion , she speaks of past statesmen dueling and others mussel freedom , she quotes Ronald Reagan , not mentioning the consequences of his fiscal cuts on mental health in out country. She stats that government is essential in a country of non perfect individuals , yet her actions long for less government .

    Mrs Palin , please don't pretend to speak for God using firearms as a metaphor !
    You are not a victim , you are a volunteer of irresponsibility towerds the truth !

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

    Palin is way too dumb to comprehend the background of the term blood libel.

    January 12, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  20. Here we go again...!

    Sarah message to the country was all that is good to unite the is the evil media out to promote and provake violence..........................................!!!!

    January 12, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  21. Smart Human

    Stick a fork in her. She's Done.

    There's only one reason Palin should open her mouth, and it doesn't involve speaking.

    January 12, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  22. Truth squad

    I am always confused when on a regular basis the left accuses people on the right of being Nazis or a certain event will be a holocaust, you NEVER read about the ADL condemning the rhetoric from the lefties. It is only when the right fights back against slander that the ADL and Jewish groups come out to say this is wrong.
    IT IS WRONG WHEN ANYONE USES LOADED RHETORIC, regardless of what side of the aisle they are on. NAZI, HOLOCAUST, RACIST, and TORTURE have all lost some of their meaning because of double-standards.
    THINK BFORE YOU SPEAK and Realize that when you condemn your political enemies, you are also condemning yourself for having said nothing when you political friends said similar things.

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

    Giffords is Jewish, as was her aide who was killed. But I guess that's not important enough for the article.

    January 12, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  24. Video Guy

    This lady career is over. I have not seen many mainstream GOPer coming to her aid. It started with Mrs Bush staying she should stay home. They do not need her anymore, she is a pain and will make 2012 harder for them. Bye Bye Sarah

    January 12, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  25. BILL, WI

    Sarah Palin has the unique role of being the left's favorite target of scorn. Where was the same analysis and indignation from U.S. senators and their co-horts in the press when President Obama said in June 2008,when he told the Republicans " not to bring a knife to a gun fight ". The liberal politicians in this country are hypocrites.

    January 12, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
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