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. Indy

    Whoever Palin hired to write her long winded babble should be fired. At least she does have someone else to blame because there is no way in the world she wrote that script herself. Once again Palin will turn herself into a victim of the writer. What do all the other ex mayors from small towns think of everything ? There is no good reason whatsoever for Palin to say anything but she is sorry for the loss and sorry that someone in her crosshairs list was almost killed and many innocent people lost their lives. The End

    January 12, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  2. Jimii

    The Tucson tragedy is just that – a tragedy. Sara Palin is just a bizzare part of this world we live in – she gives a speech she clearly did not writeon Facebook. On Facebook? I am sure most pol. don't write their speeches but hers so clearly did not come from own hand. She uses the term Blood Libel which apprently has such an emotional meaning to many – why antagonize like that? The right does their tuypical whining about the liberal press and unfair democrats even though the republicans are The Kings of Spin. It is not whether this guy in Tucson is rep. or dem. – but tossing around all this anger desensitizes anyone, especially the unstable that guns & violence & "Taking Back America" is all tolerable behavior. Palin says she hates violence but she releases videos of her blasting away at wild animals. This lady is a trip & scarey.

    January 12, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  3. dave

    Sarah is certainly not intelligent enough to understand all of the words conservatives choose for her to use.

    January 12, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  4. Chuk

    Don't run from this Palin! This is of your own making. It is not right to spew hate and assume the consequences are reserved for others alone. All those taken violently a week ago, I think, are partly due to the incindiary remarks by you and your fellow right wingers. They were as loved by thier families as the family you've been shuttling around the country in your relentless pace of hate mungering. Remember, anyone can be on cross hairs. Perhaps if your luck turns we'd just call it "surveyor's mark" so your loved ones will find it more acceptable. You reap what you sow!

    January 12, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  5. Albert

    As usual and as stated in this article, mostly all the criticisms of Sarah Palin come from the Democrats. Why are they so afraid of Ms. Palin that they continually find things to throw at her? It seems they dig deep into trash cans and dumpsters to find garbage to fling at her for almost anything she says or does? She's not the vice-president, governor of Alaska, mayor of Wasilla, or any other elected office. She doesn't set any policy, nor write any laws, or anything like that, yet Democrats seem to think she's in charge of some sort of politcal machine. Why don't they put the blame for what happened in Arizona squarely where it belongs, with the demented young man who blew a fuse? Democrats seem to be with their backs against the wall pleading for their lives, blaming someone else, as long as they save their own skin.

    January 12, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  6. Josh Randall

    I very much doubt that Palin, and her speechwriters, were unaware of the historical meaning of "blood libel", and that it would be offensive to a group of people who are part of our society. I would actually go further and suggest they used it on purpose, to try and stir up yet another controversy to try and steer things away from the target map and reload comments. Already right wingers are making out that everyone is PC, but again and again it is Sarah Palin stirring up the hornets nest with her words and actions. I truly wish McCain had never picked her for the VP position two years ago.

    January 12, 2011 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  7. Media is time to stop giving her Space

    Do you think for a minute she wrote a single word of this?

    If you asked her two minutes after the taping session to explain in her own words what the thrust of the broadcast was she wouldn't be able to tell you. Be like asking a parrot to explain what 'pieces of eight' are.

    She is very vindictive and hateful and we are SICK OF HER!!!!!

    January 12, 2011 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  8. Denise

    I have yet to hear anyone directly blame her or the likes of the group to which she belongs. What I have heard and read are objections to her and the other conservative talking heads consistently and frequently using threatening language and displaying violent imagery. Accountability. Responsibility. Behaving as an adult should so they are role models to our youth. Pawlenty is a good role model. So is Romney. They have remained dignified and respectful. She continues to play her extreme-right political cards, even in her "well-timed" statement (that was so predictable) that clearly someone else wrote for her.

    January 12, 2011 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  9. JM

    Shut up with your baseless persecution of Sarah Palin. This is getting ridiculous already.

    January 12, 2011 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  10. CTC

    Sarah Palin and her supporters are living proof that the dumbing down of America has been a complete success.

    January 12, 2011 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  11. Michael in Houston

    Palin couldnt find "common ground" if she were standing on it with someone else. Besides, the only people I see supporting her on anything is the occasional post on the ticker. I literally know not one person who likes this creep.

    January 12, 2011 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  12. TommyG

    In her defense, I don't even think she knows what the term "Blood Libel" means or its origins. It's probably something one of her PR people told her to say to drum up more controversy and attention. That is really the only way she stays relevant at this point.

    January 12, 2011 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  13. spike in conshohocken pa

    Winky Palin strikes again. What a dolt.

    January 12, 2011 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  14. Wong Kar-Wai

    I think Sarah Palin is a dimwitted bumpkin who could easily destroy this country if she were given power and bothered to show up, but even I will stand next to her and wave my dong at the ADL and tell them to STFU. Enough already, you pathetic crybabies. IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU! I know that you're "the chosen people" and everything but guess what... not everybody chooses to buy into your mystical reindeer games! Not every off-handed slight is about you! Sometimes people can say things that JUST DON'T INVOLVE JEWS! I know that's a horrifying truth to deal with, so I'll just give you a minute to catch your breath and deal with the fact that you aren't the center of the universe.

    January 12, 2011 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  15. Todd

    How would it affect this discussion if it was also published that Loughner and his family were long time members of the same Reformed Synygogue as Rep. Giffords?

    January 12, 2011 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  16. LAH

    It's bad enough that she couldn't wait until after the memorial for the true victims of this tragedy, but then to reference a term such as "blood libel" that stirs such painful thoughts of so many others who have suffered atrocities much greater than she could ever imagine? This person does not know what it really means to be persecuted or victimized. She is so self-involved that she has put herself before those injured or killed in Tucson. This is someone who considers herself a potential leader of the free world? More like the self-absorbed reality show "star" that she truly is.

    January 12, 2011 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  17. jim

    I wonder what would happen if Dick Cheney shot Sarah Palin in the face on a hunting trip?

    Who would apologize?

    January 12, 2011 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  18. True American

    what is wrong with Palin???? does she not get it? why must she incite images of violence with every rhetoric? there are enough crazies out there--we don't need people with a loud mouthpiece to stoke them. and if they do, for god's sake man up and own up to your rhetoric!

    January 12, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  19. Average American

    How sad it is that in our society our response to a horrific crime against what appears to be a peace-loving congresswoman, a violent act where a 9 year old girl and five other fine Americans were killed, is to talk about Sarah Palin of all people. She's a mean-spirited, self-absorbed reality tv star. That's it. Let her say or do what she wants....we should be focused on improving mental health reporting and treatment, making sure unstable people don't have access to guns and beginning a dialogue of cooperation (or at least civility). We are AMERICANS. Let's start acting like it.

    January 12, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  20. Ky

    what a nut case she is. will she ever learn to keep her mouth shut, there is more power in silence that always trying to be correct. sometimes it is best just to KNOW you are right and not express it, as in her case, her stupid rhetoric about anything always reinforces just how small her intelligence really is. hopefully anyone who would support or even think her capable of a run in 2012 doesn't have the priveledge of a vote in this country.

    January 12, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  21. Jacob

    how is she always the victim!? she could never be a true leader! this was not a moment to go on the defense, this was a moment to say "I'm sorry, we should ALL be more careful with words we use"

    January 12, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  22. Mouf

    Just think if the shooter would have been Muslim, or an illegal. Im sure no one would try to use that for political gain.

    January 12, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  23. S. In California

    It seems "quite appropriate" that Sarah would use such language. After all, she loves inciting violence as long as it is AGAINST her and her filthy unGodly household. As a Christian, I try not to use the word hate but I absolutely DEPISE this woman. She represents ALL that's wrong with America. One day this modern day Jezebel will reap what she's sown. THEN and only THEN will we all be rid of her.

    January 12, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  24. megan

    that"s what happen you let someone else write for you it don"t come from your heart. Sara you need to seek help. you have"t gotten over losing to a black men. A scorn women is a dangerous women. that"s what you have become. I blame rush , glen and fox they knew that and they used you to spread the hate. please get some help before yourself more than you already have.

    January 12, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  25. jorge washinsen

    We can all be sure we will receive the unvarnished truth from the news media.We should not distrust those who work so hard to make a none story profitable.Without them and their opinions we would be lost trying to come to terms with this complicated world we live in.

    January 12, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
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