Sarah Palin Accuses ‘Journalists and Pundits’ of 'Blood Libel' in Arizona Shooting
UPDATED: Read her first public statement since the attack on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords -- and the reaction to her use of the highly charged term.
Sarah Palin addressed the shooting of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on her Facebook page early Wednesday morning.
Palin, who has been under attack for putting crosshairs over Giffords' district on her website, instead turned the blame on "journalists and pundits."
She wrote, "Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions. And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, and often both sides find common ground back in D.C. and elsewhere. If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. 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."
She went on: "There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those “calm days” when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial. But our Founding Fathers knew they weren’t designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government. Our Founders’ genius was to design a system that helped settle the inevitable conflicts caused by our imperfect passions in civil ways. So, we must condemn violence if our Republic is to endure."
The term "blood libel" is a highly charged term that refers to a time when European Christians blamed Jews for murdering children to use their blood for religious and holiday rituals. Because of the phrase's connotation, Palin's use of it Wednesday raised eyebrows in some circles.
"In her own thinking, I just don't understand the logical use of this word," Ronnie Hsia, a professor of history at Pennsylvania State University who has written two books about blood libel, told the Associated Press. "I think it's inappropriate, and I frankly think if she or her staff know about the meaning of this word, I think it's insulting to the Jewish people."
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement that it was inappropriate to blame Palin for the shooting.
"Still, we wish that Palin had not invoked the phrase 'blood libel,' " said Foxman, whose organization works to fight anti-Semitism. "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."
Matt Goldish, a professor of Jewish and European history at Ohio State, said he believes Palin may not understand the history of the phrase, adding that he doesn't think many people will find it offensive.
"The combination of the words, blood and libel, obviously kind of ring up together," Goldish said. "And you can imagine somebody who's obviously heard the phrase in their distant past have it come up on their radar screen."
Read Palin's entire blog entry.