Former Vice-President candidate, Sarah Palin, sparked controversy in the wake of the Arizona massacre with the liberal use of the term blood libel to defend herself against allegations.
Palin used the term to describe the accusations made by politicians and journalists connecting her to the rampage shooting in Tucson, Arizona last week.
Journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn, said Palin in a video posted on her Facebook page.
That is reprehensible, she further added. There are those who claim that political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this apparently apolitical criminal and they claim that political debate has somehow got more heeded just recently.
The term blood libel, which Palin used, has strong connections with the Jewish history. It refers to the false accusation that Jews murder children to use their blood for baking Passover matzos.
One of the earliest incidences was of an English boy called William whose death was attributed to the Jewish community of Norwich. Recorded some thirty years after his death, The Life and Miracles of St William of Norwich was a Latin work that chronicled the gruesome incident that led to the death of the boy.
As per Walter Zeev Laqueur, an American historian and political commentator, Altogether, there have been about 150 recorded cases of blood libel (not to mention thousands of rumors) that resulted in the arrest and killing of Jews throughout history, most of them in the Middle Age.
Despite historical associations and references that connect Jews to such heinous acts, many question on Palin's usage of the term blood libel.
In his blog for the American Post, Adam Serwer maintains that even if the accusations are unfair, Palin's usage of the term in the context of people accusing her for the Tucson incident is wrong. He said that blood libel is not wrongfully assigning guilt to an individual for murder, but rather assigning guilt collectively to an entire group of people and then using it to justify violence against them.
In fact, for years together, the concept was used as a form of justification for killing hundreds of Jews in an inhuman manner. The detestable element of the term is that it was used to accuse innocent Jews on the basis of a false notion.
Many believe that if Palin understood the true implications of her statement, she would have refrained from using it.
However, there are examples where the term has been used, particularly in the political arena with some of them actually appropriate.
Conservative activists Jim Geraghty, in his columns for National Review Online, cite many instances when the term was used in political Non-Jewish contexts.
Carl Pasquale Paladino, American businessman and political activist from New York, earlier gave a statement about perverts who target children. He said that these people are the gay equivalent of the medieval (and Islamist) blood-libel against Jews.
The Tucson shooting that left six dead and fourteen injured, including Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has raised fresh question on the usage of the term. It is very unfortunate that in today's civilized society, politicians make use of such crises to bolster their political image by getting involved in blood-libels against innocent groups.