How does Sarah Palin demean Jewish suffering? Let me count the ways. Today, she comes forth with the absolutely disgusting, outrageous claim that those who accuse her of creating an environment of hate that fed Gabrielle Gifford’s shooting commit a “blood libel” against her:
“Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own,” Ms. Palin said in a seven-and-a-half minute video posted to her Facebook page. “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 that they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.”
I swear, my jaw dropped when I heard that. Her statement is so noxious, so self-serving, so self-pitying, I simply don’t know where to begin.
First, let’s explain that the term “blood libel” derives from the anti-Semitic charge by Chrisitian Jew-haters that Jews stole Christian children and used their blood (hence that term) to make matza for Passover. Many Jews were persecuted, even arrested and imprisoned under such claims, most notoriously Mendel Beilis in 1913. This was one of the first times that Jews worldwide fought back against the charge and campaigned vigorously to defend the victim. In short, Jews died over the charges of blood libel. That’s why we take the phrase seriously and refuse to allow a cheap politician like Palin to demean it.
That being said, the subtext of what Palin is charging is that her detractors have fomented hatred and violence against HER (and not the other way around). When you think about it, this is an absolutely heinous and brilliant manuever to turn the tables on her attackers. Instead of being the perpetrators, she becomes the victim. How can you attack someone who claims she’s become the victim or persecution?
Not to mention that Palin has also introduced an element of religious devotion and imagery into the debate as another subtext of this monstrosity is that she’s calling on her followers to rally around her to defend her from this attack. As a devout radical evangelical, the imagery of Jewish persecution invoked by blood libel would resonate deeply with her given similarly imagery regarding Jesus’s suffering and those of later Christian martyrs.
We must not allow Sarah Palin to appropriate the blood libel or any other Jewish symbolism or suffering to which she is not entitled. This is simply an outrage. She cannot do this. She must pay a price for smearing the memory of Mendel Bailis and all those who suffered for their religious beliefs. Again, if anyone is guilty of political blood libel here it is Palin and her followers. They are the ones who use violent political rhetoric. They are the ones who express their rage all too easily on their enemies. They are the perpetrators, not the victims.
I am outraged. This is a hillul ha-Shem (“desecration of the Divine Name”).
Abe Foxman issued a tepid slap on the wrist in which he said he “wished” she hadn’t used the term. C’mon Abe. Do you only wield the big guns against liberals and Democrats like Ted Turner when they misuse Jewish suffering?