Video: Brad Hirschfield on Sarah Palin's use of 'blood libel'

Jan 12, 2011

In a video statement released on her Facebook page, Sarah Palin accused critics of "blood libel." On his blog today, Brad Hirschfield wrote "Palin is certainly right that comments and analysis which serve 'only to incite' are inappropriate. She is not correct about the power of the words we use and how they impact others."

Is Palin's use of the term "Blood Libel" offensive to Jews, especially considering the Congresswoman was Jewish? Do you anticipate Jewish organizations demanding an apology?

How soon before she starts comparing the media's treatment of her to the Holocaust or Christ himself?

The only answer to bad speech, in my opinion, is more speech. And an educated public that can apply critical standards to ideas and evaluate the facts behind them. I am not surprised by the comments I hear - but amazed that some would ever believe such nonsense. That is the difference I see and I wonder how we can educate our population to be wise consumers of information. Or what to do if we can not?

I am NOT a Sarah Palin fan, but I'm not sure I understand this controversy. Isn't she using the term metaphorically? Kind of like saying something like..."Yeah, she asked me so many questions...it was the Spanish Inquisition." Less about the word, more about people choosing to be offended because they didn't like the guy anyway. Of course, everyone loves to hate Sarah Palin!

In how many instances have reporters/columnists used the phrase "blood libel"? Are there meanings other than anti-Semitic?

Does Ms. Palin have anyone on her team that reads over what she says *prior* to her saying/tweeting/posting the statement? It just seems so bush league that she'd make these types of errors. If she wants to lead the country, she has to at least *sound* educated.

I'm a Democrat, so I think my opinion is objective, if you dare to print it. But the media was to quick to pin this on talk radio and Palin. Um, shouldn't we find out from the perpetrator what motivated him. Ask him if he even saw Palin's map of cross-hairs to begin with. Perhaps, it in the end it comes right down to giving a gun to a person who is mentally unstable, if that's the case. Also, today's negative TV shows, music, and movies have a far more detrimental influence on young people. For example, "Mad Men" shows nothing but adultery. Should we ban that show?

Has use of the term "blood libel" been associated in the past with ultra-right wing movements or antisemitic/white power groups? What other groups use this term? Where might Sarah Palin have recently heard it used?

What sort of impact do you feel this has on the Jewish community?

I think Sarah meant to say vendetta, or a blood feud.

Why today? Why couldn't she wait until tomorrow, rather than on this day of remembrance?

Was Glen Reynolds' Wall Street Journal OpEd use of "blood libel" different than Sarah Palin's?

Is the headline we're going to read later today "Is Sarah Palin Antisemitic?" And is this a fair charge with these amateurish gaffes?

I understand and respect the fact that you are Jewish. I am a Christian and the Hebrew Bible says in Proverbs 18:21 says "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life]." Do you agree that some of the things people like Sarah Palin say can give birth to results like what we saw in Tucson?

Why are religious terms so important in American politics? Or are they?

So Sarah Palin's response to criticism of her over the top reactions is with an over the top reaction? I'm surprised she didn't classify herself as being crucified. Or that the media is conducted a pogrom on her reputation.

Palin said "journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel" - so does that imply that the original blood libel was true?

Why hasn't Palin responded to the fact that Giffords specifically cited Palin's target sights as threatening?

I thought I share this quotation I found posted on a friend's wall "Dear God. I can't control the conduct others. But help me so my conduct & words never incite others to anger, prejudice, or violence. May my words be both charitable & thoughtful. Remind me that what I say may make a difference in the lives of others. With your help may that difference be a positive one."

In This Chat
Brad Hirschfield
Rabbi Brad Hirschfield is an author, radio and TV talk show host, and President of CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. His On Faith blog, For God's Sake, explores the uses and abuses of religion in politics and pop culture. He wrote "You Don't Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism." Named as one of the nation's 50 most influential rabbis in Newsweek, and one of the top 30 'Preachers and Teachers' by Beliefnet.com, he is the creator of the popular series, Building Bridges, airing on Bridges TV, and co-host of the weekly radio show, Hirschfield and Kula: Intelligent Talk Radio. For more information see www.bradhirschfield.com.
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