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Palin's term offends some in Jewish community

January 12, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Sarah Palin spoke about the tragedy in Tucson on her Facebook page, but some found her comments offensive.Sarah Palin posted a video on Facebook Wednesday lashing out at critics who were quick to link the tone of her political rhetoric to the Tucson shooting.

Although the motive for the shooting is under investigation, the wording in Palin's video is generating controversy.

Palin's seven-minute speech was focused primarily on the media and on critics of her sometimes provocative political tone.

She said those who would liken her kind of politics to the violence in Tucson are irresponsible.

But if Palin was hoping to dial down the rhetoric, instead she's created another firestorm by using the term "blood libel," considered offensive to many Jews.

"There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal," said Palin in the video. "And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently, but when was it less heated?"

In defending herself and addressing her critics, Palin used a term that's angered some in the Jewish community.

"Journalists and pundits should not manufacture a 'blood libel' that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn," said Palin in the video.

"I think it's over the top," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. "'Blood libel' in history connotes the idea of anti-Semitic Christians who blame Jews for kidnapping and murdering their children, and then using their blood for their rituals," said Hier.

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is Jewish. And Hier says Palin made a poor choice of words.

"Well, I do not know if it was done deliberately. That's something you'd have to ask her. But I'm only reacting that it's inappropriate and out of place," said Hier.

Many have been critical of a Palin website that used what appear to be gun-sights over key congressional districts, including Giffords'. Giffords addressed the issue last March.

"The way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun-sight over our district," said Giffords in March. "When people do that, they've got to realize there's consequences to that action."

In her speech Wednesday, Palin condemned the violence in Arizona. But she said that her style of politics didn't have anything to do with the actions of the attacker.

"No one should be deterred from speaking up and speaking out," said Palin in the Facebook video.

Palin has not responded directly to the criticism of her remark. Others have come to her defense, saying that the term "blood libel" can also mean a false accusation.

The video was removed briefly, was back up Wednesday on Palin's Facebook page.


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