Following the shooting rampage in Tucson, AZ where (among others) Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head, Sarah Palin was the recipient of backlash over some political ads she ran that put various Democratic leaders (including Gifford) in crosshairs. She also advised the Republicans “Don’t retreat, reload!” on Twitter and Facebook.
In response to the criticism, Palin has issued a lengthy statement and video address wherein she comes back at the media for their blame directed at her. In the statement, she evokes the term “blood libel.” The exact quote is, “But, especially 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.”
“Blood libel” is an anti-Semitic term for falsehoods that Christians levied against Jewish people, claiming the Jewish people essentially crucified a child and then mixed his blood with matzoh bread during Passover. Jewish leaders are speaking out against Palin’s choice of words.
David Harris, president of the National Democratic Jewish Council, says in a statement, “Instead of dialing down the rhetoric at this difficult moment, Sarah
Palin chose to accuse others trying to sort out the meaning of this
tragedy of somehow engaging in a ‘blood libel’ against her and others. This is of course a particularly heinous term for
American Jews, given that the repeated fiction of blood libels are
directly responsible for the murder of so many Jews across centuries —
and given that blood libels are so directly intertwined with deeply
ingrained anti-Semitism around the globe, even today.”
Simon Greer, president of Jewish Funds for Justice, goes on to explain the meaning and context of the phrase. “The term ‘blood libel’ is not a synonym for ‘false accusation.’ It refers to a
specific falsehood perpetuated by Christians about Jews for centuries,
a falsehood that motivated a good deal of anti-Jewish violence and
discrimination. Unless someone has been accusing Ms. Palin of killing
Christian babies and making matzoh from their blood, her use of the
term is totally out of line.”
We have to wonder if Palin even really knew what the phrase meant when she used it, because if she did, that’s a heavy term to toss about regarding the media’s treatment of her. It doesn’t seem to fit the situation to us and it seems to be in line with the kind of inflammatory political ads and social network messages that directed the backlash at her in the first place. What do you think?