Jewish Republicans Muted on Palin’s ‘Blood Libel’ Comment


ari-fleischerJewish Republicans had a muted reaction Wednesday to Sarah Palin’s accusation that the media manufactured a “blood libel” while covering the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

The term “blood libel” refers to historical, false accusations that Jews used the blood of non-Jewish children for religious purposes. Persecutors of the Jews employed a “blood libel” mentality to justify acts of violence against them. Additionally, Giffords is Jewish.

Former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, a member of the Republican Jewish Coalition’s board of directors, did not address Palin’s use of the phrase “blood libel” but said she would have been better served by focusing on a more positive message.

“I liked much of what she said, but it would have been even better if she simply rose above the accusations about her map and focused entirely on the bigger message of loss, tragedy and the greatness of our country and the strength of our people,” he told The Hill. “The better way to repudiate the nonsensical charges against her would have been to rise above them.”

A spokesman for the only Jewish Republican in Congress, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.), did not refer directly to the remark and also expressed hope that people focus on the victims of the attack.

“Our hope is that members, journalists, and all Americans keep their hearts, prayers, and hopes with Congresswoman Giffords, the victims of this horrific tragedy, and their families who are no doubt grieving today and in need of our collective support,” Brad Dayspring said in an e-mail.

Palin – the former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee – invoked the “blood libel” in a pointed response Wednesday to criticism of her heated political rhetoric in the wake of attempted assassination of Giffords this weekend.

“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,” she wrote in a Facebook note. “That is reprehensible.”

Many conservative commentators have defended Palin in the wake of the shootings, saying the media unfairly connected her past comments to the shooting, and praised her Facebook note. But some questioned her use of “blood libel.”

National Review’s Jonah Goldberg wrote Wednesday that he agreed with Palin’s greater point but that the “use of this particular term in this context isn’t ideal” since it threatened to redefine it.

National Jewish Democratic Council President David A. Harris said in a statement that Palin made the wrong choice in co-opting the “particularly heinous term for American Jews.”

“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,” he said.

Harris also suggested Palin might not know the meaning of the term.

“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,” he added.

Anti-Defamation League President Abraham Foxman said that, “It was inappropriate at the outset to blame Sarah Palin and others for causing this tragedy” but acknowledged that, “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.”

In a Twitter post, the Republican Jewish Coalition called the statement “senisble.”

Conservative blogger Glenn Reynolds first used the term this week in the context of the Giffords shooting.

“So as the usual talking heads begin their ‘have you no decency?’ routine aimed at talk radio and Republican politicians, perhaps we should turn the question around. Where is the decency in blood libel?” he wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “The Arizona tragedy and the politics of blood libel.”

{The Hill/}


  1. “Additionally, Giffords is Jewish.”

    NO, Giffords is NOT Jewish. Here mother and mother’s mother were not Jewish.

    The tragedy was horrible and Mrs. Giffords should have a speedy recovery; but I wish the press, especially a frum website would stop referring to this non-Jewish lady as a YID.

  2. Hey, I agree with the Foxman quote!
    It is possible to criticize Palin without being accused of being anti America, motherhood, and apple pie, just as it’s possible to criticize any Republican; for some reason she gets a pass.
    But the rhetoric is terrible. Lefty radio is milking this, the blood libel thing, the whole nine yards, for everything it’s worth, and well beyond that.

  3. Why are we so sensitive to completely unintended “insults” such as these? I don’t know if I can use the word on Matzav, but language EVOLVES. Phrases are borrowed, and their meaning changed. Blaming people for murders they did not commit is exactly what they blood libels were, and though they were motivated by anti-semitism and this by political one-upsmaniship, they are parallel, and the meaning of the phrase is understood. Can we find more important things to be bothered by, and stop being so defensive, especially towards someone who, whether we like her or not, actually has or interests as a nation as a priority?

  4. maybe “blood libel” is a strong word but Palin is accused of inspiring someone to kill innocent people, including an attempt to a congress woman. Its pretty harsh to make that accusation. ESpecially, this murderer didn’t even mention anything about Palin, nor that he supports republicans. Politians always say nasty things about one another. That doesn’t mean soemone wanted that person to be killed. As far as the “blodd Libel” term, i think people are over reacting. it not the biggest deal!

  5. To Comments #4, #5, and #6 from “Everybody, “TorahYidKS,” and “sk,” I say:

    “TRIPLE DITTOS!!!!!”

    It should not need to be said that all this outright sick nit-picking of every little word of non-Jewish officials to say that this statement or that remark was “insensitive” to Jewish people is absolutely ridiculous!! It is a terrible Chillul HaShem, as it must certainly be severely irritating to the officials to repeatedly hear these baseless cries of “anti-Semitism.” At best, they will think that we are people who are totally paranoid.

    And especially with a person like Mrs. Palin, who has been extremely supportive of Israel and other Jewish causes, and with whom there have been rumors that both she and her husband are (from several previous generations) themselves actually Jews, such nit-picking garbage is completely out of place!

    Those Jewish officials and Jewish organizational CEO’s who made all this empty noise definately need to give Mrs. Palin a very big apology.

  6. Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas B’Shalach
    Time: 4:33 PM Pacific Standard Time

    As Comment #6 on this article, and the previous article from “The Washington Times” at, very eloquently explain, Mrs. Palin is 1,000%, excuse me, Mrs. Palin is 100,000% correct!! Yes, this certainly IS a “blood libel”!!

    Throughout history, there have been numerous events where the descriptive part of the title of the event has been latter used for the title of subsequent, albeit much smaller, but still, similar events.

    [For example, THE “Missile Crises” of world history was the “CUBAN Missile Crises.” (It occurred in the Fall of 1962, when the Communist Soviet Union built up a huge array of nuclear armed missiles in its “Talmid” country of Communist Cuba. Boruch HaShem, the U.S. stood up to the threat and forced the USSR to remove the missiles. That super-power confrontation though, was the one time when the world was on the brink of actually having the horrific annihilation of a full nuclear war, Rachmana Litzlan.) In subsequent years though, there have been many different problematic situations of various missiles and rockets used by Arab countries and terrorist groups and being developed and tested by North Korea and Iran. Throughout the news reporting of these incidents, the phrase “missile crises” was often used.]

    The same type of phenomenon is here too. THE “Blood Libel” of world history was the line of countless vicious fabrications of us Jews killing non-Jewish children to use their blood for our rituals. Almost always, these trumped up allegations were merely an excuse to go murder scores of Jews from a targeted village.

    Obviously though, the phrase “blood libel” is a general phrase that does not refer specifically to any one “blood libel” or even any one TYPE of “blood libel.”

    What does this phrase “blood libel” mean? Well, let us look at each word. The word “libel” is a noun that means: “a false accusation.” [See where one of the definitions is: “A : a written or oral defamatory statement or representation that conveys an unjustly unfavorable impression. B (1) : a statement or representation published without just cause and tending to expose another to public contempt.”] The word “blood” in this phrase is an adjective that describes the noun “libel.” As the noun “libel” means “a false accusation,” the adjective “blood” is describing the “false accusation”; it is telling us WHAT KIND of false accusation is this; it is telling us WHAT SUBJECT this false accusation is about. As the adjective here is “blood,” this then is a false accusation about blood, which means, about the SHEDDING of blood.

    So the phrase “blood libel” means “a false accusation about the shedding of blood”; in other words, that is “a false accusation about WHO SHED a particular person’s blood.” In other words, that is “a false accusation that WRONGLY ACCUSES someone of shedding a particular person’s blood.”

    Again, the big “blood libel” of history was the line of fake accusations falsely accusing us Jews of killing non-Jewish children. Along with this though, there have obviously been numerous other instances of fake accusations that were hurled at people or at even whole groups of people falsely accusing them of killing certain people. Each of these occurrances can thus easily be thought of as a “blood libel.”