Dershowitz, others defend Palin’s use of ‘blood libel’

Steven Nelson Associate Editor
Font Size:

American Jews are debating Sarah Palin’s use of the term “blood libel” Wednesday after she used the term to describe discussion by media personalities following Saturday’s massacre in Tucson.

Historically the term refers to false anti-Semitic allegations of child murder.

Palin said in her statement on the massacre, “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.”

Jewish Americans for Sarah Palin defended Palin’s use of the term.

“Sarah Palin got it right,” said the group. “Falsely accusing someone of shedding blood is the definition of a blood libel.”

Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz similarly defended Palin from criticism over the use of the term.

“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” Dershowitz told

“The fact that two of the victims are Jewish is utterly irrelevant to the propriety of using this widely used term.”

Several Jewish Republicans side-stepped analyzing Palin’s use of the term, including former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the only Jewish Republican currently serving in Congress.

Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League’s national director, released a statement earlier Wednesday gently chiding Palin for using the term in her speech.

“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,” he said.