Was Palin right to charge liberals with “blood libel”?

Daniel S. writes:

Sarah Palin calls out liberals for their “blood libel” (here is video) by which she, Sharron Angle, Rush Limbaugh, the Tea Party, and conservatives in general were collectively blamed for the mass shooting by the deranged Jared Loughner. Palin goes on to charge liberals with the very sort of incitement and hate-mongering that conservatives are routinely accused of. Will Sarah Palin lead the charge and put liberals on the defensive? What Sarah Palin, Sharron Angle, Rush Limbaugh, and other conservatives should do is stay on the offensive, expose the anti-conservative incitement of liberals and fight their cynical attempts to exploit the shooting in order to silence “hate speech” (i.e. any speech that contradicts liberalism).

LA replies:

I’ve seen Palin’s eight minute video statement. I heartily endorse her accusation of blood libel. The Democrats and the liberal media have been declaring that conservatives, simply by virtue of taking conservative positions and opposing liberal positions, have been fomenting the murder of liberals. The liberals are thus saying that conservatism as such is murderous. In the same way, the original blood libel in the Middle Ages said that the Jewish religion involved the murder of Christian children. So the charge of blood libel against liberals seems entirely appropriate and justified.

Now earlier today a correspondent disagreed with me on this point (though she later changed her mind). She said that since the original blood libel involved the charge of using Christian children’s blood in Passover matzos, and since no one is charging anyone of using anyone’s blood in the current instance, “blood libel” is not a correct metaphor. But this is demanding a degree of precision that would make any metaphorical application of the term impossible.

In fact, the term blood libel is widely used today, often by Jews, to refer to false accusations of Jewish or Israeli murderousness. To confirm this, I did a Google search for “blood libel” at the site of Commentary, the flagship journal of Jewish neoconservatism, and found the following instances, almost all from 2010, in which “blood libel” has been used not in the literal sense of the medieval blood libel but in the sense of a false charge of murder against an entire group (I’ve bolded each use of “blood libel”):

  • In November 2010 at Commentary, Michael Totten wrote an article, “Blood Libel: The Sequel,” concerning the international condemnation of Israel for using lethal violence against the crew and passengers on Mavi Marmara when Israeli forces who had boarded the ship to prevent it from violating the blockade against Gaza were lethally attacked.

  • In 2007 at Commentary, Nidra Poller, in a blog entry about the French TV report which accused Israeli forces of deliberately killing the 12 year old Palestinian boy Muhammad al-Dura, wrote:

    The 55-second video was immediately broadcast worldwide and assimilated by unsuspecting viewers. It functioned as a blood libel, justifying atrocities against Israelis and Jews.

  • In February 2010 at Commentary, Jennifer Rubin approvingly quoted an unnamed Jewish official in Washington who, in a catalogue of California gubernatorial candidate Tom Campbell’s anti-Israel positions, referred to Campbell’s public support for “Alison Weir—lately a purveyor of the organ harvesting blood libel against Israel.”

    (Actually organ harvesting would be getting literally close to killing Christian boys for their blood, so it’s not as helpful to my case that “blood libel” is now commonly used by Jews to characterize any accusation of Jewish murderousness. But I include it for completeness.)

  • In a June 2010 symposium at Commentary, “Obama, Israel & American Jews: The Challenge,” Jeff Jacoby wrote:

    Even more egregious is Obama’s insinuation that American troops are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan because Israel won’t agree to peace on the Palestinians’ terms. The Israeli-Arab conflict “is costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure,” the president said in April—a claim not just false but also recklessly close to a blood libel. No wonder the number of Israeli Jews who see Obama as pro-Israel is minuscule: just 9 percent, according to the Jerusalem Post.

  • In December 2010 in Commentary, Omri Ceren characterized the infamous Goldstone report, which accused Israel of war crimes during the 2008-09 incursion into Gaza, as “UN-sponsored blood libel.”

  • And finally, jumping back twenty years, in 1991 New York Times columnist A.M. Rosenthal accused Patrick Buchanan of “blood libel” for his “amen corner” remark and other statements which Rosenthal said were anti-Semitic. Writing at length about the Buchanan controversy in Commentary at the time, Joshua Muravchick did not disagree with Rosenthal’s “blood libel” characterization. He did not say that since Buchanan was not accusing Jews of using the blood of Christian boys in their Passover matzos, therefore Rosenthal’s charge of “blood libel” against him was incorrect.

A final point. Everyone is making a big deal out of the fact that Alan Dershowitz has defended Palin’s use of “blood libel.” Frankly, I don’t give a damn what Dershowitz says. He’s a man of the left, a Jewish ethnocentrist who hatefully condemns Anglo-Saxon Americans for normal ethnocentric behavior which he praises when Jews do the same. I don’t approve of the man, and I don’t want to rely on him as my authority on this or any issue. Fortunately, as shown by the above examples, I didn’t need to.

At the same time, my personal views of Dershowitz are not relevant to the larger issue here. Given the widespread condemnation of Palin for saying “blood libel,” it is obviously very helpful to our side that Dershowitz has defended her.

My main concern is that conservatives need to stop defending themselves from and politely complaining about insane leftist charges, and instead put the left on the defensive for its outrageous behavior. Palin’s “blood libel” charge has the potential of doing just that, but if the left and others succeed in building a consensus that she shouldn’t have said it, that potential win for our side will become another loss.

- end of initial entry -

A correspondent writes:

These all involve Jews or Israel, or should; it should be used only in application to Jews or Israel, then it makes sense.

LA replies:

That’s besides the point. The point is, each of these instances invoved an accusation against a group (Israel) for being murderous. Which is what the liberals have done to conservatives.

The correspondent replies:

It should apply only when there is a Jewish issue.

LA replies:

An entire group—conservatives—is being smeared as murderous, in the same way that an entire group, Jews, were and are smeared as murderous. And this view justifies hatred and vengeance against the group that has been thus falsely accused.

LA writes:

Reported at RCP:

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell: Palin “Ignorant” For Using Term “Blood Libel”

“Perhaps she didn’t know of the context of that phrase,” NBC correspondent and MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell said.

“Maybe she was ignorant of it, to give her the benefit of the doubt,” Mitchell added.

As can be seen from the information provided in the initial entry above, it is the arrogant Andrea Mitchell who is ignorant.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 12, 2011 06:12 PM | Send

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