ZOA/Dershowitz/Boteach: Palin Was Right to Call Attacks Linking Her to Murders a ‘Blood Libel’
January 14, 2011

Did Krugman, ADL’s Foxman, Reform’s Sapperstein put politics

ahead of principle & truth in attacking Palin?



ZOA/Dershowitz/Boteach: Palin Was Right to Call Attacks Linking Her to Murders a ‘Blood Libel’


The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), along with Harvard University’s Professor Alan Dershowitz and Rabbi Shmueley Boteach, is supporting former Vice-Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, in describing those who sought to link her to Jared Loughner, the gunman who murdered six people and critically wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and several others, as committing a “blood libel.”


Following Loughner’s January 8 shooting spree in Tucson, Arizona, several left-of-center figures accused assorted conservatives, including former Vice-Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, for fostering a climate of hate speech that supposedly inspired Loughner’s crime. In particular, several accused Palin of responsibility on account of ‘targeting’ on her website of Democratic candidates and constituencies – something that is in fact routinely done by both Republicans and Democrats. For example, Palin critic Markos Moulitsas, who blogs on the left-wing Daily Kos, had even ‘bullseyed’ several districts for primary challenges, including that of Rep. Giffords.


Moreover, the use of vocabulary of war and combat is commonplace in political discourse. For example, as the Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer has noted, President Barack Obama said at a 2008 fundraiser in Philadelphia, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.”


Yet, New York Times columnist and blogger, Paul Krugman, thought he had a strong argument favoring his unfounded view that Loughner’s motives were plainly political and stimulated by Palin’s political discourse when he wrote that, among other things, Giffords “was on Sarah Palin’s infamous ‘crosshairs’ list” (Paul Krugman, ‘Assassination Attempt in Arizona,’ New York Times blog, January 8, 2011).


After accusations against her by Krugman and others were made, Palin said, “journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible” (Sarah Palin: ‘America’s Enduring Strength,’ January 12, 2011).


The terms blood libel has been used by both Republican and Democratic figures and liberal and conservative pundits, yet only in this case did some Jewish leaders step forward to fault Sarah Palin’s use of the term.


The Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman said, “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” (‘ADL Statement on Sarah Palin’s Response to Tucson Tragedy,’ January 12, 2011).


The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s Rabbi David Saperstein said that Palin’s statement “was like waving a red flag … It concerns us. It escalates the intensity of the rhetoric, rather than calming it down. It seems to me she’s missed an opportunity at real leadership” (Cathy Lynn Grossman, ‘Rabbis blast Palin’s use of phrase,’ USA Today, January 12, 2011).


·       The notion that the use of the term ‘blood libel’ in this context is improper has been refuted by well-known liberal Professor Alan Dershowitz, who said in a statement, “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” (‘Exclusive: Alan Dershowitz Defends Sarah Palin’s Use of Term ‘Blood Libel,’ January 12, 2011).


·       Rabbi Shmuley Boteach made some related points today in the Wall street journal when he said that “Despite the strong association of the term with collective Jewish guilt and concomitant slaughter, Sarah Palin has every right to use it. The expression may be used whenever an amorphous mass is collectively accused of being murderers or accessories to murder. The abominable element of the blood libel is not that it was used to accuse Jews, but that it was used to accuse innocent Jews—their innocence, rather than their Jewishness, being the operative point … Murder is humanity’s most severe sin, and it is trivialized when an innocent party is accused of the crime—especially when that party is a collective too numerous to be defended individually … Indeed, the belief that the concept of blood libel applies only to Jews is itself a form of reverse discrimination that should be dismissed … How unfortunate that some have chosen to compound a national tragedy by politicizing the murder of six innocent lives and the attempted assassination of a congresswoman. To be sure, America should embrace civil political discourse for its own sake, and no political faction should engage in demonizing rhetoric. But promoting this high principle by simultaneously violating it and engaging in a blood libel against innocent parties is both irresponsible and immoral” (Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, ‘Sarah Palin Is Right About “Blood Libel,”’ Wall Street Journal, January 14, 2011).


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We reject the notion that Sarah Palin is in the wrong by describing politically-motivated blaming of her for the murderous acts of Jared Loughner as a ‘blood libel.’ This term has been used before in contexts unrelated to past Jewish persecution.


“It is fundamentally wrong that Paul Krugman and some other liberal pundits self-righteously allege incitement by Palin and conservative pundits, who are entirely unconnected to the gunman, while inciting people directly against Palin and others in the process. If it can be claimed that the rhetoric of conservatives can lead mentally disordered people like Jared Loughner to open fire on Gabrielle Giffords, then it surely can be claimed that the rhetoric of Paul Krugman and some other liberal pundits may incite other disordered minds to try and harm Sarah Palin or other conservatives.


“It has already emerged from Jared Loughner’s friends and acquaintances that he never listened to news, was not politically involved and was registered as an independent. What are the odds that he had even heard of Palin’s map? How many people in the country ever heard of it till now?


“As a child of Holocaust survivors, born in a Displaced Persons Camp in post-war Germany, I am acutely sensitive to using references to the Holocaust and past Jewish persecution in public discourse for inappropriate analogies. This one does not worry me, because the analogy is not inappropriate. When we speak of blood libels against Jews, it means one thing – a malicious, false accusation of evil-doing, designed to whip up hatred and hostility against those so accused. That matches the attempt to link Sarah Palin to Jared Loughner.


“Instead of criticizing those who made this unprincipled attack on Sarah Palin, these Jewish leaders criticized her for using the term ‘blood libel.’ Even Abe Foxman, who initially defended Palin’s effort to defend herself from accusations linking her to the murderous acts of Loughner, could not resist criticizing her use of the term.


“If they believe that Sarah Plain escalated tensions by using the term blood libel, why didn’t these same people publicly condemn President Obama, who publicly stated during his campaign, ‘If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.’ Why didn’t they condemn Gabriel Range for making the movie, Death of a President, which specifically depicts George W. Bush being assassinated, as the most frightening and dangerous incitement?


“This should have been above politics. Did these Paul Krugman, Abe Fox and Rabbi Saperstein put their own political biases ahead of principle and truth?”



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