Palin’s Use Of ‘Blood Libel’ Incites Mixed Reactions

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Four days after a gunman attacked Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others, Sarah Palin answered her critics.  Some people believe the former Alaska governor may have incited the attack with a campaign map that showed cross hairs on Giffords’ district.

“There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal,” Palin said, in a video posted on her Facebook page. “And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently, but when was it less heated?”

The message made headlines, but not entirely for its intended reason.  It caused a furor over her use of the term “blood libel.”

The statement included the line “journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn.”

The centuries old term is highly offensive to Jews. It’s defined as “the false accusation that Jews sacrifice Christian children either to use the blood for various ‘medicinal’ purposes or to prepare Passover matzo.”

“Unfortunate use of the phrase,” said Steve Hunegs, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council.  “Sarah Palin’s not an anti-Semite. Sarah Palin has been shown to be a friend of the Jewish community.” 

Still, he is troubled by the term. He showed a map of places that “blood libel” had been associated with pogroms, massacres of Jews.

“Countless people lost their lives because Jews were accused of this heinous and completely false act,” he said.

University of Minnesota political science professor Kathryn Pearson said this fits a pattern of other Palin missteps. She said it isn’t likely to concern her followers, but possibly others. 

“She makes mistakes a lot and here is an example of a mistake that’s causing her some real problems,” said Pearson.

WCCO-TV’s Esme Murphy Reports

More from Esme Murphy
  • Dan

    Alan Dersowitz says that Palins use of the word blood libel were not misused.Palin should not even be a part of this conversation. This crazy person has nothing to do with politics. Some talk shows needed a new topic, especially the liberal left and the haters.The injured and dead and their families should be the focus. How stupid and blind must we be to let a mentally impaired person lead us down this path.

    • Ignorance must be bliss

      If you are really that dumb and cannot see that there is some sort of a connection between the new politics that has been started in this country for the past few years and how it has influenced the American public you should not even be able to post thoughts on an opinions page. NEVER in the history of US politics has anyone been so stupid to use a map with a scope on it to point out people that they do not agree with (other than the Alaska wonder). You do not even find this in 3rd world countries. The things that people say when on the campaign trail will always affect people even though it may be a small, small minority. If you do not believe in this how can you explain comments like people saying “get your government hands off my Medicare” when the tea party was all upset about health care reform? This is because some people take things too seriously, never do any kind of research, just take whatever they are told as if it was in stone and this has always happened and will continue to happen. Anyone that is on a soapbox preaching to the masses should always remember that the words they choose are going to echo in the ears of someone. For dear Sarah here, I don’t think she is smart enough to know what a soapbox is let alone know what kind of power her words can have. As far as the “liberal left and haters” comment, please grow up and stop using stupid tags to portray everyone that you do not agree with as you are just putting a tag on yourself as being a 1 sided mind that cannot think outside of the box that is given to you with instructions that say “place on head and do not lift, we will tell you more later”. I wish people in this country would go back to the way it was and should be. Who cares about Republicans and Democrats? Let’s try to think on our own and not be the country that blindly follows someone because of the clothes they wear or what hair style they have. Because if you state that you are Rep/Dem just because you are, you might as well vote for the person that has the cutest butt.

    • Phid

      Dan, you are exactly right. Palin was dragged into this tragedy by Democrats and liberals who evidently wanted to play politics with it. They blamed her and other conservatives for somehow inciting the shooter. Now that such accusations have been shown to be utterly groundless, Palin is still being attacked by those who don’t like her choice of words, even though “blood libel” may be used in a context which his larger than the historical context in which some use it. Her critics do not stop. And they are wondering who is responsible for all the divisiveness in this country?

  • richard

    Nobody said she caused this nut to kill. However, any reasonable person can draw the conclusion that she and fools like her (limbaugh, hannity, beck, coulter) are inflaming people to extreme positions. Given the lies, distortions and spin they spew, it’s not hard to understand that their retoric can imflame and incite….especially true of mentally unbalanced individuals as appears to be the case here.. Even now, where she should just offer condolences and shut up, she makes it all about how she is being persecuted. Her mis-use of “blood libel” just serves to underline her lack of basic vocabulary skill and the english language.

    • Penny

      I agree, this woman had such a need to be in the limelight that she will take any opportunity. She shows her her true self every time she opens her mouth and spews her ignorance and intolerance.

    • Phid

      Absolutely false, richard. You ASSUME far too much. Please point to me ANY evidence that any talk show hosts have led people to do violence. If not, please never again repeat your claims.

      Also, please note that the shooter in Tucson was evidently inspired by a movie called “Zeitgeist” – a movie which is anti-Christian and which I believe claimed 9/11 was an inside job. Tell me – would this type of movie fall under the umbrella of “conservatism” or “liberalism”?

  • Victim Du Jour

    There is actual physical hard evidence linking Jared Loughner to drugs, and a Judge excusing him from drug charges. But our news keeps obsessing over Sarah Palin.

    Sarah Palin has nothing to do with the shooting at all.

    • Ignorance must be bliss

      Victim Du Jour
      You cry just as good as Sarah herself about her always being a victim. When you are that dumb you are bound to make mistakes and normal people accept the mistake instead of pointing a finger and saying that the media made her do it. Especially to questions as easy as, what do you read? Please get over this and wipe your eyes as you may be the only 1 that cannot see that putting a target on people that you do not agree with may not be a good idea.

      • Victim Du Jour

        Do you know the difference between science and schizophrenia?

        Science links a drug addict to a mass murder in Arizona. Schizophrenia boosts ratings, and advertisement revenue.

  • The One

    Cause she is a delusional lunatic! Probably smoking too much of your wacky…

  • bigjc1980

    Some people believe that Sarah Palin incited the shooting because she drew crosshairs on Gifford’s District? Really? Who are these people and please tell me they don’t live anywhere near me.

  • miki

    I don’t like Sarah Palin, I will never like Sarah Palin, but I agree with Dan, up to a point. The act of a mentally deranged killer is not her fault. And as to the misuse of the phrase, well, she is being accused of causing the death of a child for her personal agenda. I can’t even imagine how that hurts.

    But Dan, when you call people “liberal left”, how about calling them “liberal left Americans”? Just to remind yourself. I’m not saying that you’re like this, and yes, you do have some valid points, but I had a rather disturbing conversation with a coworker yesterday, and I don’t really think she considers Democrats to be Americans at ALL!

    I actually do agree with Palin that this has been going on since politics began, it’s not a new thing. But aren’t we supposed to be making ourselves better? Isn’t that the point of even being here?

    And you’re right, Dan: the focus should be on the victims and their families. I don’t know how they’re going to tell the Representative that a child was murdered coming to see her. I’m not sure how I’d deal with that, if it were me. In our prayers and thoughts, maybe we could lend her the strength to keep going. Because she has to, regardless of her political affiliation. One person can not dictate to this democracy.

  • Bob

    I know for a fact that Sarah Palin had personally caused global warming and the AIDS virus.I also believe that she had a hand in my car not starting this morning and……..


    Many people blame Palin and the like for this tradjedy. I think the larger story in this is these people can’t remember the name of the congresswomen let alone the others that lost thier lives. This is why I believe this has been politisized. So sad really. GOD BLESS AMERICA.

  • Bill

    The phrase means dishonest comment and has been used fora long time.
    journalists and democrat liberal are worst of the bunch

  • Cindy

    The crosshairs on the map under “Sarah Pac” and the congresswoman herself commenting on how it could have consequences, and the wave Sarah rode with the “maverick” “take a stand”(with the crosshairs map), “mama grizzly”, facebook or SarahPac picture of her aiming down the barrel of a shotgun with “take a stand” message, her shooting animals from a helicopter fighting mentality since the day she first set foot on the national stage and you people are still delusional about her message? Why? What is your problem with reality? Are you serious in your defense of her on-going message??

    • Bob

      What color is the sky in your world ?

  • Cindy

    And now she bombasts the “jounalists and pundits” that criticize her, the very same “journalists and pundits” she used to ride the wave all the way to the bank? And after several days of hiding, all she can do is arrogantly come out and continue to stoke the flames of political division instead of humbling herself before her country? She is a total moron! Please go away Sarah, you sicken us!

  • Arne

    Someone goes out to assassinate a member of Congress, and Palin calls that action “apolitical”? I don’t think so. Rep. Giffords had previously warned that violent rhetoric carried consequences. Have folks forgotten the incivility — racist and anti-Muslim comments, etc. — during the 2008 presidential race, and the frequent comments by the Tea Party supporters during the health care reform town halls about how “next time” they would bring their guns?

  • Todd

    I would have given Sara much more respect if she had just ignored the critique and accusations… it would have been better if she showed up for the memorial service and said nothing. I was stunned that on a day when it should NOT have been a day about her that she put up a video about her. But that is Sara, she has one mode of operation. Her credibility as a candidate for president is going to be hindered by what she did yesterday.

  • Judy

    We’d all be off if she would just keep quiet

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