The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) responded Wednesday to criticism of Sarah Palin’s use of the term “blood libel” in her video statement about the Arizona shootings, which left six dead, dozens injured, and Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in critical condition.
The ADL expressed support for Palin’s contention that it was inappropriate for the media and political pundits to blame her for Jared Loughner’s heinous actions, but that Palin ought not have used a phrase so deeply associated with Jewish tragedy.
“[W]e 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,” ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said. “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.”
Blood libel refers to the false accusation that Jews use the blood of murdered non-Jewish children for their religious activities, specifically the baking of Matzo. Experts allege that the libel arose as an excuse for persecution.
While Foxman and the ADL were not pleased with Palin’s terminology they were nonetheless supportive of her statement.
“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.”
While the ADL and others might cringe at Palin’s unfortunate description, over at National Review, Jim Geraghty has chronicled a wide range of individuals — from Andrew Cohen of CBS News to liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson — who also have used the term “blood libel” in reference to subjects not connected to the term’s meaning in the context of Jewish history.