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