Republican Sarah Palin found a friendly news outlet to explain her use of the term “blood libel” to rebuff critics who said her political references to guns and “targeting” political opponents was inflammatory in the wake of the Arizona shootings.
Three days after the shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Sarah Palin shot back at critics who blame her for contributing to a vitriolic political climate with fiery rhetoric suggestive of violence.
“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,” Palin said in a video statement.
The remarks touched off a storm of controversy because the term blood libel is considered to be an anti-Jewish slur that has its origins in false charges used to persecute and murder Jews up through the middle ages.
The Jewish community reacted with shock, anger and disbelief.
“This is of course a particularly heinous term for American Jews, given that the repeated fiction of blood libels are directly responsible for the murder of so many Jews across centuries,” said David Harris, president of the National Jewish Democratic Council.
But Palin went on Fox News and said that was not what she meant.
“Blood libel obviously means being falsely accused of having blood on your hands. In this case, that’s exactly what was going on,” Palin said in her first interview on the subject.
“Just two days before, an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal had that term in its title. And that term has been used for eons,” said Palin, a potential 2012 presidential candidate.
The Arizona shootings, by a lone, deranged gunman left left six people dead and 13 wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Jared Lee Loughner has been charged in the attack.
Palin has interjected her recent speeches with gun references, in one instance urging followers to “reload, not retreat” after last year’s healthcare debate.
She also publishing an electoral map identifying vulnerable Democratic congressional districts, including Giffords’, with rifle cross-hairs.
“I am not ready to make an announcement about what my political future is going to be,” she said. “But I will tell you … I am not going to sit down. I am not going to shut up.”