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. RH of WI

    By the way, someone should take Sarah's shovel away ~ it's the hole deep enough yet? Keep digging and you won't get elected for dog catcher, because we know what you do to animals! They're in the crosshairs too!

    January 12, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  2. corpsman

    "She seems not to understand what is going on here"...

    Well, yes. As always.

    January 12, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  3. S. In California

    So many of you are asking why doesn't she apologize. She simply can't do that because that would be an admittance of guilt and I'm sure her attorney as advised her against that. She belongs in an orange jumpsuit with shackles on her hands and feet. I wish her and Scott (the guy in CA who murdered his pregnant wife ) could share a cell. Both of them are child killers in the worst way. MURDERER. That's what you are Sarah. You PREY off of ignorant people and their weakness of hatred towards people of color. Your day is coming to give an account of your actions.

    January 12, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  4. Julia- Idaho Native American

    Stop defending this lunatic, if the KKK or the Aryan's said the same damn thing, you wouldn't defend them, what's the difference in her hate speech and their hate speech?

    January 12, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  5. Tam

    Someone wrote the statement for her! As usual, unless she reads it off her palm. She doesn't know most of them big words anyway.

    From a Canadian newspaper's website (The Globe and Mail) – a comment from a reader: "This is would be a terrible performance even if it were delivered in Palin's former capacity as an anchorwoman, rather than potential leader of the free world. She can't get enough of a handle on the sentences she's reading to put verbal emphasis in the right place. Not only is Sarah Palin not an intelligent and articulate person, she can't even play one convincingly on TV."

    January 12, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  6. Nurse Lisa

    Palin said "Don't retreat -RELOAD" too. If she can't stand the heat, she should stop fanning the flames.

    January 12, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  7. Kevin

    I don't think she knows what the words she uses mean most of time.

    January 12, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  8. lch

    This woman and her staff just do not get it. Why did she choose today, the day in which Obama will go to Arizona and mourn, to release this video? A video where she, once again, claims to be a victim and makes it all about her. Palin is nothing but a narcissitic phoney who lacks any intellectual ability to understand the world around her because to her, she is the world.

    January 12, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  9. Julia- Idaho Native American

    I forgot to add both Palin and the KKK and the Lunatic Aryans claim to be Good Christians, disgusting

    January 12, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  10. Adam

    A friend of the gunman todays says that Jared Loughner was "shooting at the world". He did not closely follow politcal rhetoric nor did he affiliate himself with any party. Rather than report the facts of how these were the non-partisan actions of a lunatic, you are still trying to link Sarah Palin to this event....what a joke you are, and the vast majority of the American people know it!

    January 12, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  11. David

    Dear Gov. Palin

    Gov. Palin did not shoot these innocent people. We're smart enough to know this, despite her repeated attempts to scapegoat the media for all things anti-Palin. We're smart enough know that Sarah Palin would never condone what occurred and finds it appalling in every way.

    That's not the issue.

    Simly put, how Sarah Palin communicates and what she actually says is the issue.

    The methods she uses to convey her stances are vitriolic. They just are. She chooses these methods on purpose. The slanderous media doesn't brainwash us to believe that. We're simply smart enough to know the difference between civility and toxicity. It's the words you use, not the media's over-reporting of everything you say.

    Gov. Palin may be a nice person and possess charisma and appeal to many people in this country. Yet she is inarticulate and relatively uneducated. Consequently she chooses and relies upon offensive, inflammatory phrases, remarks, and visuals to persuade through a poisonous cocktail of anger and fear.

    In selfishly attempting to defend herself in a video released on the same day as the innocent victims' (including 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green's) memorial service, Governor Palin's latest offensive tantrum uses the phrase "blood libel". Why would she use such a phrase? Has she no knowledge of the anti-semitic origins of this phrase? Once again, she has used words she does not understand to offend those who don't think like she does – this time the American Jewish population, myself included.

    You will notice that I did not indicate my political affiliation. It's obviously inconsequential. I may or may not agree with her stances on certain issues. This e-mail is ONLY meant to express my disgust with Gov. Palin's messaging methods and tactics and to urge her and you to stick to the issues, argue intelligently and cogently, and to refrain from offensive, fear-based phrases and messages.


    January 12, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  12. Jeff, Huntington Beach, CA

    Sarah Palin in a narcissus. While some are getting ready to bury their dead and others start a long road of recovery, emotional and physical, Sarah Palin is only worried about her "image." What a pathetic individual. Anyone who could stand up for this wretch of a woman should really search their soul...

    January 12, 2011 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  13. Dele

    Please CNN, can you kindly ask your political contributors and Sarah Palin why didn't Sarah Palin respond to Congresswoman Giffords' request to tone down the rhetorics when her office was vandalized(with gone shots by the way) after the health care vote. Why didn't any republican in the congress respond to her email about how toxic the discussion has become and that they should tone down the rhetorics? Now the evil has happened has she had feared and called attention too, and instead of you media to call it what it is you are dancing around it. The blame that the republicans are now trying to deflect was the very concern that the congresswoman expressed before it sadly happened. Whether you republicans and tea parties like it or not, your rhetoric has caused this. Instead of trying to deflect the blame, just reflect on it and do what the congresswoman requested of you before this sad incidence. Tone Down the Rhetorics for goodness sake and talk "civilly" about your differences in political agenda. Tone down the Rhetorics, period. God bless you and God bless the United States of America. Amen.

    January 12, 2011 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  14. She didn't Know...

    Oh Stop blaming Palin, she was reading the "Teleprompter" she practice the speech over and over, while trying to look presidential. She is the parrot.....blame her staff of writers...she just don't know. LoL

    January 12, 2011 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  15. ConsiderThis

    The writer of this article assumes that Sarah Palin wrote her own statement and knew what the term 'blood-lible really means. Sarah has no clue about the meaning of the term and only regurgitates what her handlers tell her to for the purpose of keeping herself in the news (only through controversy – since it sells) and lining up speaking engagements to increase her networth. When will the media allow Palin's 15 minutes of fame to end? Please, get her out of her misery.

    January 12, 2011 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  16. Monster Zero

    Palin criticized for being a conservative woman....end of story.
    Wahhhh, wahhhhhhh! I want my free cheese, wahhhhhhh!

    January 12, 2011 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  17. 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.

    Of course I mean eating...duh!

    January 12, 2011 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  18. Amy - AK

    It's the "palm and promter's" fault. Sarah is the victim and her 15 minutes is soooooooooooo over with....!!!!!!!!!

    January 12, 2011 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  19. Colleen

    they know no better because they are ignorant.

    January 12, 2011 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  20. Liam

    I think Sarah needs to hire someone to google her catch phrases for her – the first hit on blood libel is the wikipedia entry defining what it means. This is what happens when people just spew out rhetoric without even checking with reality first.

    January 12, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  21. Enough

    Sarah Palin should not use words and phrases she does not understand.
    Result, Sarah Palin should keep her mouth shut. Period. She can only recite what others (they're dumb too) write for her.
    This woman needs to go away. She's milked her dumb followers for all they're worth.

    January 12, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  22. ?

    yes, and she still's so dam ignorant to use phrases like this even after something like what happened in Tucson..she is just plain ignorant! and didn't she supposedly just come out of the woodworks from "praying and self reflection"? NOT!

    January 12, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  23. JV

    Ha ha ha! Sarah for President!!! I hope she gets the GOP nomination. Nothing would be more hilarious than to watch her and the GOP self-destruct

    January 12, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  24. TangledThorns

    As someone descended from Nazi Holocaust victims and experienced hate for being Jewish these groups are out of line for criticizing Sarah Palin. All she is doing is defending herself from unnecessary attacks. They don't speak for me and have ruined my faith in their organizations.

    January 12, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  25. Al Bundy

    Somebody should place palin within the crosshairs of an assault or a sniper rifle and they should pull the trigger. This is my exprrssion just as palin put the crosshairs on other officials. Somebody should KILL her.

    January 12, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
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