Right-wing media have rushed to defend Sarah Palin over her use of the term “blood libel,” a term that historically refers to the grave anti-Semitic charge that Jews use the blood of Christian children in some religious rituals -- a myth that has long been the source of anti-Jewish violence.
Right-Wing Media Defend Palin's Use Of “Blood Libel”
Washington Times: “This Is Simply The Latest Round Of An Ongoing Pogrom Against Conservative Thinkers.” In an editorial titled, “Blood libel against Palin, Limbaugh,” The Washington Times stated: “Typical of blood libel, the attack against Mrs. Palin is a false charge intended to generate anger made by people with a political agenda. They have made these claims boldly without evidence and without censure or consequence.” From the Times:
Some have keyed on the use of the expression “blood libel” as inapt. The term usually refers to the centuries-old accusation that Jews use the blood of gentile children in making matzos for Passover. The appearance of the blood libel is often the prelude to massacres or other forms of anti-Semitic persecution and is alive and well in some parts of the world, especially the Middle East.
Mrs. Palin is well within her rights to feel persecuted. Since the Saturday bloodbath, members of the liberal commentariat have spoken in a unified voice, charging her and other conservatives with being indirectly or somehow directly responsible for the lunatic actions of accused gunman Jared Loughner. Typical of blood libel, the attack against Mrs. Palin is a false charge intended to generate anger made by people with a political agenda. They have made these claims boldly without evidence and without censure or consequence.
This is simply the latest round of an ongoing pogrom against conservative thinkers. The last two years have seen a proliferation of similar baseless charges of racism, sexism, bigotry, Islamophobia and inciting violence against those on the right who have presented ideas at odds with the establishment's liberal orthodoxy. [The Washington Times, 1/12/11]
NRO's Lopez: “This Seems To Be A Whole Lot More About Reacting To Sarah Palin, And Being Annoyed At Sarah Palin, Than Anything Else.” In a National Review Online post, Kathryn Jean Lopez wrote:
My favorite accusation is that Sarah Palin is such a dim bulb that she doesn't know what “blood libel” most prominently, poisonously, and disgracefully refers to. If you're making that accusation, you ought to take a look at who some of her advisers are. They're not new to the world of actual wars and history.
Where was the outrage when the Wall Street Journal published the phrase earlier in the week? This seems to be a whole lot more about reacting to Sarah Palin, and being annoyed at Sarah Palin, than anything else. And it continues to miss the point that Tucson is not about Sarah Palin. [NRO, 1/12/11]
Verum Serum: Criticism Of Palin Over Use Of “Blood Libel” Is “Just More Cynical, Ugly Politics From The Left.” In a Verum Serum post, John Sexton wrote that criticism of Palin's “blood libel” remark is “just more cynical, ugly politics from the left”:
There four days of unmitigated and baseless hatred having collapsed on them, the left has now seized on Palin's response and in particular her use of the term “blood libel” as a new scandal. No need to apologize for demonizing her wrongly and unfairly, just start up a new rant about something else:
Like the previous attack this one isn't going anywhere either. But all they need is something to deflect the criticism they've earned off of them and back on Palin long enough to let people forget just a bit who did what to whom. It's just more cynical, ugly politics from the left. [Verum Serum, 1/12/11]
Buchanan: “I Thought It Was An Excellent Statement With Regard To The Phrase 'Blood Libel.' ” On the January 12 edition of MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports, Pat Buchanan stated:
BUCHANAN: Frankly, I thought it was an excellent statement with regard to the phrase “blood libel.” That, of course, refers to the libel that was used in the Middle Ages, charges against Jews which were utterly unsupportable slanders. And I think she's using it in that context. [MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports, 1/12/11]
On the January 13 edition MSNBC's Morning Joe, co-host Joe Scarborough discussed Palin's use of the term and asked Buchanan, “Was that a mistake, Pat, or was she deliberately trying to provoke her critics?” Buchanan responded:
BUCHANAN: No, I don't think so at all. I think she was really trying to answer her critics, Joe, and I don't know who worked with her on the statement, but I don't see any malevolence behind her using the phrase, quite frankly. Andrew Sullivan's used it, Michael Barone's used it, Ann Coulter's used it. Alan Dershowitz said yesterday that I've used that phrase myself to describe the Goldstone report. So I don't think there's any malevolence there. [MSNBC's Morning Joe, 1/13/11]
Big Journalism: "[A]s They Always Seem To Do, The Left Found Something To Attack, The Use Of One Phrase. Blood Libel." In a Big Journalism post, blogger Jeff Dunetz wrote that Palin's speech “spoke just the right tone and was delivered with dignity” but that, “as they always seem to do, the left found something to attack, the use of one phrase. Blood libel.” Later, Dunetz wrote:
Throughout the liberal world accusations began to spring up suggesting that Palin's use of the phrase blood libel was some how an affront to the Jewish people.
As a Jew who has studied and often writes about Jewish issues, the Holocaust and Antisemitism in general allow me for a second to comment on the claims of those progressive commentators. Horse Crap! [Big Journalism, 1/12/11, emphasis in original]
Erickson: Palin's Use Of “Blood Libel” Is “Perfectly Legitimate.” In a RedState post, CNN contributor Erick Erickson wrote that “the left” attacked Palin for “using the phrase 'blood libel,' a perfectly legitimately use of it given what she and the right have been subjected to this week.” [RedState, 1/13/11]
Malkin: “The More Moronic Of Palin-Bashers Will Simply Gnash Their Teeth Because She Said 'Blood.'” In a January 12 post, Michelle Malkin wrote:
Today, Sarah Palin issued her own poignant, but fierce rejoinder against the vicious smears of Tucson massacre opportunists and drew on “America's enduring strength” to pay tribute to the victims.
They criticized her for not saying anything.
Now, they'll criticizing her for saying something.
The blamestream media is already up in arms -- can we still say that? -- over the use of the phrase “blood libel.” Ben Smith at Politico has an exchange with Glenn Reynolds about the term here. Jim Geraghty notes that leftists have had no problem applying the phrase to the GOP.
The more moronic of Palin-bashers will simply gnash their teeth because she said “blood.”
Idiocracy: The new normal. [MichelleMalkin.com, 1/12/11]
Hot Air's Morrissey: “It's a functional political term.” In a Hot Air post, Ed Morrissey wrote:
Some are criticizing Palin's use of “blood libel,” saying that it refers to a specific anti-semitic charge from centuries ago that Jews supposedly used the blood of Christian children in preparing ritual food. But as Glenn Reynolds points out to Politico's Ben Smith, Israel uses “blood libel” today to rebut charges of deliberately killing Palestinians, and Tony Blankley used it in a column to describe John Murtha's accusations against Marines about murders in Haditha. It's a functional political term. [Hot Air, 1/12/11]
Big Government. “Palin-Haters Are Attempting To Turn” Palin's “Reasonable And Empathic Response ... Into An Antisemitic Outburst.” In a Big Government post, blogger Joel B. Pollack wrote that “Palin-haters are attempting to turn Gov. Sarah Palin's reasonable and empathic response today to the Tucson atrocity into an antisemitic outburst.” He later stated: "[T]here is nothing offensive per se about using the term 'blood libel,' in an analogy, as long as it is appropriate and bears some reasonable relation to the facts, which I believe it does in this case." From Pollack's post:
Palin-haters are attempting to turn Gov. Sarah Palin's reasonable and empathic response today to the Tucson atrocity into an antisemitic outburst.
Palin, like Glenn Reynolds (and, independently, Andrew Breitbart) used the term “blood libel” to describe the way in which opportunistic politicians and journalists seized on the shooting spree to demonize the Tea Party and conservatives in general.
The test of any analogy is not just whether it is appropriate, but also whether it is accurate. Anti-Israel activists have spent the past decade campaigning on false analogies between Israel and apartheid South Africa, without regard to the facts of life and law in either. (Often, like Jimmy Carter, they invoke the Israel-apartheid analogy even as they admit it is not true-their purpose is simply to demonize Israel and isolate it as part of a calculated political strategy).
As Jim Geraghty has pointed out, American commentators on both the left and the right have long used the term “blood libel” as an analogy-often with far less justification. In addition, Jews and Israelis commonly use the term in discussing unfair accusations in the context of debates about the Middle East and other issues.
So there is nothing offensive per se about using the term “blood libel,” in an analogy, as long as it is appropriate and bears some reasonable relation to the facts, which I believe it does in this case. [Big Government, 1/12/11]
Jewish Groups Condemned Palin's Use Of “Blood Libel”
ADL's Foxman: "[W]e Wish That Palin Had Used Another Phrase, Instead Of One So Fraught With Pain In Jewish History." In a statement, Anti-Defamation League chairman Abraham Foxman said:
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. [The Washington Post's Plum Line blog, 1/12/11]
National Jewish Democratic Council: “Palin's Incendiary 'Blood Libel' Reference: Wrong Time, Wrong Place, Wrong Always.” In a statement, the National Jewish Democratic Council said:
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.
Perhaps Sarah Palin honestly does not know what a blood libel is, or does not know of their horrific history; that is perhaps the most charitable explanation we can arrive at in explaining her rhetoric today.
All we had asked following this weekend's tragedy was for prayers for the dead and wounded, and for all of us to take a step back and look inward to see how we can improve the tenor of our coarsening public debate. Sarah Palin's invocation of a “blood libel” charge against her perceived enemies is hardly a step in the right direction. [National Jewish Democratic Council statement, 1/12/11]
J Street's Ben-Ami: Term “Brings Back Painful Echoes Of A Very Dark Time In Our Communal History.” In a statement, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said:
J Street is saddened by Governor Palin's use of the term “blood libel.”
We hope that Governor Palin will recognize, when it is brought to her attention, that the term “blood libel” brings back painful echoes of a very dark time in our communal history when Jews were falsely accused of committing heinous deeds. When Governor Palin learns that many Jews are pained by and take offense at the use of the term, we are sure that she will choose to retract her comment, apologize and make a less inflammatory choice of words. [J Street, 1/12/11]
Jewish Funds For Justice President: "We Are Deeply Disturbed" By Palin's Comment. As Think Progress noted, Simon Greer, the president of Jewish Funds for Justice, criticized Palin's remark, stating:
We are deeply disturbed by Fox News commentator Sarah Palin's decision to characterize as a “blood libel” the criticism directed at her following the terrorist attack in Tucson. 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. [...]
Ms. Palin clearly took some time to reflect before putting out her statement today. Despite that time, her primary conclusion was that she is the victim and Rep. Giffords is the perpetrator. As a powerful rhetorical advocate for personal responsibility, Ms. Palin has failed to live up to her own standards with this statement. [Think Progress, 1/12/11]
NRO's Goldberg: Use Of “Blood Libel” Phrase “Isn't Ideal” Because It “Almost Invariably” Describes “Anti-Semitic Myths”
NRO's Goldberg: Reynolds Use “Isn't Ideal,” “Historically, The Term Is Almost Invariably Used To Describe Anti-Semitic Myths About How Jews Use Blood -- Usually From Children -- In Their Rituals.” In response to Glenn Reynolds' Wall Street Journal op-ed, National Review Online editor-at-large Jonah Goldberg wrote:
I should have said this a few days ago, when my friend Glenn Reynolds introduced the term to this debate. But I think that the use of this particular term in this context isn't ideal. 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. [National Review Online, 1/12/11]