‘Blood libel’: Sarah Palin uses a phrase with painful meaning to Jews

‘Blood libel’ has particular, painful meaning to Jewish people

The phrase used by Sarah Palin against her detractors usually refers to the false accusations made for centuries against Jews, often to malign them as child murderers — and sometimes leading to massacres of their communities.

In saying her critics “manufactured a blood libel,” Sarah Palin deployed a phrase linked to the false accusations made for centuries against Jews, often to malign them as child murderers who coveted the blood of Christian children.

Blood libel has been a central fable of anti-Semitism in which Jews have been accused of using the blood of gentile children for medicinal purposes or to mix in with matzo, the unleavened bread traditionally eaten at Passover.

The spreading of the blood libel dates back to the Middle Ages — and perhaps even further — and those allegations have led to massacres of Jewish communities for just as long.

The term “blood libel” carries particular power in the Jewish community, though it has taken on other shades of meaning. Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said Wednesday that “while the term ‘blood libel’ has become part of the English parlance to refer to someone being falsely accused, we wish that Palin had used another phrase, instead of one so fraught with pain in Jewish history.”

One of the first recorded tragedies attributed to the blood libel occurred in the 12th century, when a boy named William in Norwich, England, was found dead with stab wounds. Local Jews were accused of killing the child in a ritual fashion and, according to several histories on religion, most of the Jewish population there was subsequently wiped out in a massacre.

Such charges continued for centuries, with Jews often assigned blame in the unsolved murders of children. Many of the dead children were considered martyrs; several were elevated to sainthood by the Roman Catholic or Orthodox churches.

Allegations of blood libel spread during the Holocaust and still persist today.

rick.rojas@latimes.com

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

 

Oh Sarah sweetie, I mean this with all due respect. Just stop talking. (and yes, if some left leaning person were saying equally stupid things, I’d say the same thing)

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