Bizarrely using the term “blood libel” (which refers to a New Testament passage used by some Christian extremists to blame all Jews for the death of Jesus, as well as the myth promoted by the pre-reformation Christian Church that claimed Jews kill children in bloody rituals), Tea Party darling Sarah Palin finally spoke out against the storm of criticism over her violent and war-like rhetoric in the aftermath of the attempted political assassination of Democrat Gabrielle Giffords that left 6 dead, including a US federal judge and a nine year old girl.
Giffords, who was shot through the head and remains in very critical condition had been among those who protested the Palin campaign’s use of gunsight crosshair graphics to “target” her district in the just-passed November election as well as Tea Party and Republican rhetoric filled with violent, martial imagery and symbols.
Palin’s use of the term “blood libel” will certainly raise hackles, since it upends and twists its normal usage — and since the target of Palin’s violent campaign rhetoric, Giffords, is, herself, Jewish.
I thought this piece which collects some thoughts by Jewish rabbis on Palin’s use of the term, blood libel, was pretty interesting:
USA Today – Faith & Reason: Rabbi: By ‘blood libel’ claim Palin admits ‘words can be deadly’
It quotes Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership:
It’s not just inappropriate, it’s profoundly ironic. By making this comparison and playing Jew in the picture, the person endangered by a blood libel, she admits that the words people use can have deadly impact.
By claiming that others’ words are a blood libel that endangers her, she’s at least admitting the prospect that claims her words endangered others could be true.
I’m not giving her a free pass. It was a poor and hurtful analogy. But clearly, she’s affirming exactly what her critics charge.