Jewish advocacy group speaks out about Palin’s use of the term ‘blood libel’

Sarah Palin, who has been subject to national criticism after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (a Democrat singled out by Palin on a map featuring crosshairs over several Congressional Districts) was shot along with over a dozen people, has struck back against her detractors with a strange and somewhat offensive use of a term typically used in relation to strong anti-Semitism.

Palin released a nearly eight minute long video in which she accuses those who criticized her imagery in wake of the mass killing of “blood libel,” sparking outcry from- well, pretty much anyone who is familiar with the general use of the term- and a surprisingly mild rebuke from Jewish advocacy group the Anti-Defamation League. In a statement, ADL president Abe Foxman defends Palin’s right to refudiate the accusations, but “wishes” she used a different term.

It is unfortunate that the tragedy in Tucson continues to stimulate a political blame game. Rather than step back and reflect on the lessons to be learned from this tragedy, both parties have reverted to political partisanship and finger-pointing at a time when the American people are looking for leadership, not more vitriol. In response to this tragedy we need to rise above partisanship, incivility, heated rhetoric, and the business-as-usual approaches that are corroding our political system and tainting the atmosphere in Washington and across the country.

It was inappropriate at the outset to blame Sarah Palin and others for causing this tragedy or for being an accessory to murder. 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.

Still, 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. 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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It should be pointed out that the choice of wording could be construed as slightly more questionable given that Rep. Giffords is Jewish. Was Palin’s use of the term- admittedly not one encountered in most day-to-day conversations, tone deaf or is this another incident of the media bashing the former vice-presidential candidate for sport? Should she have used “lynched” or “raped” instead?