Remind Me Again Why Jews Don’t Like Sarah Palin
I’m trying to remember why it is that Jews don’t like Sarah Palin. I mean, besides the fact that she’s opposed to abortion (even in the case of rape or incest) or that she thinks that lots of American Jews will be moving to Israel soon or that she has associated with an African witch doctor or that she seems to believe in some of the “Last Days” nonsense or that she can’t even string together a grammatically correct sentence or …
Oh, wait. I remember. It’s because she’s a blathering idiot with no real sense of history or the ramifications and simple meaning of words.
Case in point? After staying silent for several days after the assassination attempt on Rep. Giffords, Sarah Palin finally issued a statement (though her folks did apparently scrub her website of the crosshair targeting map that included Rep. Giffords). And what did she have to say? Well, here’s the key paragraph:
Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions. And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, and often both sides find common ground back in D.C. and elsewhere. If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, 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. That is reprehensible.
Go read her whole statement if you’ve got nothing better to do and if you think that the opinions of the half-term Governor are really still newsworthy (not just because the media, especially FOX can’t get enough of her). But do read the paragraph that I’ve quoted carefully and think about what she’s really saying (and I’ll get to the best part in a minute).
The way I read that paragraph is that Palin is saying that violent rhetoric (spirited public debate — but let’s not forget that even during the 2008 debate, Palin refused to back down from her “palling around with terrorists” claim and that she was the one who told supporters to “reload”) is just part of our system but criticism of certain forms of political speech — not the speech itself — will incite hatred and violence. One more time, because I think that this is really important: Palin doesn’t believe that violent rhetoric leads to political violence but criticism of violent rhetoric will lead to political violence. Got that?
Or, to say it another way: Words don’t have consequences unless those words are the consequence of other words.
Now for the best part. Did you notice an odd term in Palin’s statement? One has to wonder where (and why) she found and chose the term “blood libel”. I have a hard time believing that it just rolled of her tongue accidentally (like “refudiate”). It’s not the sort of term that is common parlance in political dialogue. But to so carelessly throw out that particular term? Well, that’s an example of why Jews don’t like Sarah Palin very much. What am I talking about, you ask? Here’s how the Jewish Virtual Library describes “blood libel”:
BLOOD LIBEL, the allegation that Jews murder non-Jews, especially Christian children, in order to obtain blood for the Passover or other rituals: most blood libels occurred close to Passover, being basically a another form of the belief that Jews had been and still were responsible for the passion and crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the divine child; a complex of deliberate lies, trumped-up accusations, and popular beliefs about the murder-lust of the Jews and their bloodthirstiness, based on the conception that Jews hate Christianity and mankind in general. It is combined with the delusion that Jews are in some way not human and must have recourse to special remedies and subterfuges to appear, at least outwardly, like other men. The blood libel led to trials and massacres of Jews in the Middle Ages and early modern times; it was revived by the Nazis. Its origin is rooted in ancient, almost primordial, concepts concerning the potency and energies of *blood.
The blood libel is currently very much in vogue in Muslim countries (both with regard to Jews generally and Israel in particular). For recent examples, look no further than the video that I posted back in November 2010 (start at 4:09 for a dramatization of the blood libel).
Jews have been murdered in Europe for hundreds of years, culminating in the murder of 6,000,000 at the hands of the Nazis. And today Jews and Israel are still accused of horrendous crimes by Muslims who use the blood libel as a justification for terrorism and refusal to negotiate with or recognize Israel.
Yet Sarah Palin believes that this same term merits use to describe the hurt feelings of those who are criticized for using violent rhetoric. The basic premise of her statement is wrong; her use of the term blood libel is at best incredibly stupid and insensitive and, if made knowingly … well, I’m not sure that I have a good term for that kind of rhetoric. But to the extent that Sarah Palin wants to get the support of Jews (other than a few remaining neo-cons), then she’s going to have a lot of explaining to do. And proper grammar and real words will be appreciated.
Update: I almost forgot to mention one other point. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords … is Jewish.