Anti-Defamation League Condemns Sarah Palin Over “Blood Libel”
The ADL sends over a statement from Abraham Foxman:
It is unfortunate that the tragedy in Tucson continues to stimulate a political blame game. Rather than step back and reflect on the lessons to be learned from this tragedy, both parties have reverted to political partisanship and finger-pointing at a time when the American people are looking for leadership, not more vitriol. In response to this tragedy we need to rise above partisanship, incivility, heated rhetoric, and the business-as-usual approaches that are corroding our political system and tainting the atmosphere in Washington and across the country.
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.
On the other side, Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz is defending Palin’s use of the term:
The term “blood libel” has taken on a broad metaphorical meaning in public discourse. Although its historical origins were in theologically based false accusations against the Jews and the Jewish People,its current usage is far broader. I myself have used it to describe false accusations against the State of Israel by the Goldstone Report. There is nothing improper and certainly nothing anti-Semitic in Sarah Palin using the term to characterize what she reasonably believes are false accusations that her words or images may have caused a mentally disturbed individual to kill and maim. The fact that two of the victims are Jewish is utterly irrelevant to the propriety of using this widely used term.
So, after four days of a stupid and unfair debate over whether Palin’s “target” graphic somehow caused the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords, we’ve got a debate over whether her use of a term associated with the most vicious of anti-Semitic smears was appropriate, or even correct. Whoever wrote Sarah Palin’s speech ought to be regretting that they put that phrase in there right now, because otherwise it was fairly decent.
UPDATE (James Joyner): While Palin’s sense of victimhood in this instance is a bit tiresome, Dershowitz is correct here (see Jim Geraghty‘s roundup “The Term ‘Blood Libel’: More Common Than You Might Think“) and deserves kudos for speaking out against his own political interests here.