It quickly became the story of the day, just like she wanted, but then things got uglier. Sarah Palin appears to have pulled her video response to the Arizona shooting from the site Vimeo, which now shows zero clips under Palin’s name. Palin’s use of the term “blood libel,” which usually refers to the old myth of Jews sacrificing Christians to drink their blood or cook it in matzos, in her video has everyone aflutter with either outrage or a race to the bottom to make a quick joke. (It’s trending on Twitter, of course.) “If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas,” said Palin. “But, especially 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.” The Jewish community is not thrilled! And now Palin seems to be panicking. [Updated below.]
In one of the endless statements from Jewish groups worldwide already circulating this afternoon, Simon Greer, the president of Jewish Funds for Justice, writes:
We are deeply disturbed by Fox News commentator Sarah Palin’s decision to characterize as a “blood libel” the criticism directed at her following the terrorist attack in Tucson. The term “blood libel” is not a synonym for “false accusation.” It refers to a specific falsehood perpetuated by Christians about Jews for centuries, a falsehood that motivated a good deal of anti-Jewish violence and discrimination. Unless someone has been accusing Ms. Palin of killing Christian babies and making matzoh from their blood, her use of the term is totally out-of-line.
His outrage is echoed elsewhere. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head by Jared Loughner in Arizona and remains hospitalized, is Jewish, and a friend of hers, a fellow politician, has already released a statement condemning Palin’s usage:
Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is a close friend of Ms. Giffords, issued a statement condemning her use of the phrase “blood libel.”
“Palin’s comments either show a complete ignorance of history, or blatant anti-Semitism,” said Jonathan Beeton, Ms. Wasserman Shultz’s spokesman. “Either way, it shows an appalling lack of sensitivity given Representative Giffords’ faith and the events of the past week.”
Abe Foxman of the Anti Defamation League was sure to stand up for Palin’s right to defend herself, but noted, “still, we wish that Palin had not invoked the phrase ‘blood-libel’ in reference to the actions of journalists and pundits in placing blame for the shooting in Tucson on others. 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.”
Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin, meanwhile, has already popped up in Palin’s defense. “They criticized her for not saying anything,” she wrote on her website. “Now, they’ll criticizing her for saying something. The blamestream media is already up in arms — can we still say that? — over the use of the phrase ‘blood libel.'”
The current roar of the cultural outrage, however, is at the moment muting another possible discussion topic stemming from Palin’s Vimeo broadcast. In their assessment of the criticism, the New York Times‘ Caucus blog writes that the video “appeared to be professionally produced, is sure to intensify speculation that Ms. Palin is planning to run for president in 2012.” Also presidential? Palin’s use of a teleprompter, which can be seen clearly reflected in her glasses:
Palin, remember, has been known to call President Barack Obama “any charismatic guy with a teleprompter.” And the notes written on the palm of her hand were nothing more than a “poor man’s teleprompter.” Moving on up, eh?
Whatever your issue of choice — from Palin’s word choice to her speaking technique — this one’s not going away any time soon. More updates on the missing video as they come.
UPDATE: Embedded version of the Palin video look like this now.
The text of the statement is still available in full on Facebook, where the phrase “blood libel” remains.
Update #2, 3:08 p.m.: The video is now back on Vimeo, though embedding is still disabled. Either someone on the tech side messed up or there’s a lot of confusion right now about the right action to take within Team Palin. Whatever the case, the video was certainly hidden for a time: