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December 10, 2016 / 10 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Palin’

Mike Huckabee Leaves Fox News and Keeps White House in Sight

Sunday, January 4th, 2015

Fox News’ Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and a darling of the Israeli right-wing and Christian evangelists, announced he is leaving the network and keeping options open for a run as the GOP presidential nominee.

“As much as I have loved doing the show, I cannot bring myself to rule out another Presidential run,” he said.

“This is the last edition of ‘Huckabee’ on the Fox News Channel. It’s been the ride of a lifetime, and I have never had so much fun in my life. But I also realize that God hasn’t put me on earth just to have a good time or to make a good living, but rather has put me on earth to try to make a good life.

“There has been a great deal of speculation as to whether I would run for President. If I were willing to absolutely rule that out, I could keep doing this show. But I can’t make such a declaration. I won’t make a decision about running until late in the spring of 2015, but the continued chatter has put Fox News into a position that is not fair to them nor is it possible for me to openly determine political and financial support to justify a race. The honorable thing to do at this point is to end my tenure here at Fox.”

Several pro-Israel Christians are running or thinking of running for the Republican party nomination. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was in Israel last week to show his face in headlines back home.

Retired neuro-surgeon Ben Carson made his first trip to Israel three weeks ago.

And don’t count out Minnesota’s Michelle Bachmann and Alaska’s Sarah Palin, both of whom are very attractive women with attractive pro-Israel views though not everyone’s cup of tea.

But the biggie is Sen. Ted Cruz, and Huckabee could make trouble for him, and probably for the Republican party, if he runs.


Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

The Insidiousness and Laziness of Guilt by Association

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

An important news item caught my eye this week. The president nominated Debo P. Adegbile for Assistant Attorney General a few months ago. This week his nomination failed to garner the requisite number of votes in the Senate.

The primary issue with the nomination of Adegbile was presented as a sound bite describing him as an “Unrepentant Defender of Cop Killers.” Sarah Palin described him as a “Cop Killer Advocate.” The sentiment ran deep enough that even with a majority of Democrats in the Senate, the nomination failed.

I think there is something fundamental about the work of lawyers that is being missed in this conversation. I also think that this mistake is a symptom of something that is too prevalent in the Orthodox Jewish world and apparently the rest of the world too.

Lawyers are professionals who are trained to argue on behalf of their clients. They make no moral judgments about their clients. They do not decide guilt or innocence. A lawyer acting in his capacity as lawyer is simply a well trained voice for the client. He says what his client should say. The lawyer does not condone or support the actions of his client. The lawyer should not condemn or criticize his client either. In essence, the lawyer is a tool. The lawyer is not a friend who comes along for moral support or to cheer on his client. That’s not a lawyer’s role. Lawyers argue on behalf of their client regardless of their personal beliefs and are agnostic about their client’s alleged actions.

Adegbile was not making a moral statement by representing a man convicted of killing a cop. His job is not to agree with his client, rather his job is to argue on behalf of his client. In the interest of justice and the greater good, it is incumbent upon society that lawyers represent the innocent and guilty with the same gusto and passion. This is what a fair system demands of us. If we do not defend the guilty we subvert the entire justice system. Punishing a lawyer for doing his job on behalf of a client, and in truth, on behalf of the Constitution, is far more immoral than representing a cop killer.

Drill down a little deeper and the failed nomination becomes even more ludicrous. The cop killer in question is Mumia Abu-Jamal who is convicted of killing a police officer in 1981. In 1981 Adegbile was 16 years old. Obviously, he didn’t defend a cop killer at his trial. So what do they mean that Adegbile is a Cop Killer Advocate? This accusation refers to Adegbile’s work at the NAACP where one of his duties was to file briefs to the Supreme Court of the United States on behalf of black convicts who were tried before disproportionately-white juries. The NAACP filed an amicus brief arguing that disproportionately-white juries were unconstitutional because they did not ensure a fair trial. This legal argument makes absolutely no statement about the guilt or innocence of any cop killers. It simply attempts to ensure that they were granted a fair trial. We all deserve a fair trial and as a society we must demand that all trials are administered fairly. The issue is not whether their argument about disproportionately-white juries has any merit. Ignore that. The issue is simply that they are arguing for a fair trial. They are not arguing for Abu-Jamal’s innocence at all.

Adegbile was part of the team of lawyers that argued that an disproportionately-white jury in the early 1980′s would not ensure a fair trial. This is a noble argument and possibly true. It’s not a crazy idea. But more importantly, he never defended or advocated on behalf of a cop killer. He advocated on behalf of fairness and justice. If Abu-Jamal is guilty, let him be convicted in a fair trial. That is the argument.

In other words, not only is it completely immoral to punish a lawyer for the client he represents, the truth is that Adegbile did not really represent Abu-Jamal in a trial regarding his innocence or guilt. He represented a convicted cop killer seeking to ensure that he was given a fair trial.

The efforts to block Adegbile based on these facts disturbs me greatly. It’s not about political parties or liberals vs. conservatives. In my opinion, anyone who blocked the nomination for this reason was wrong. If there are other concerns, I understand blocking a nominee. But this saga focused almost solely on the propriety of a cop killer advocate working as an Assistant Attorney General.

Which leads me to the broader point. People are obsessed with guilt by association. We have a very hard time dealing with people when they are connected, even very loosely, with people or groups we find distasteful. In the Orthodox Jewish community we see this in very stark terms. Orthodox rabbis are extremely reluctant to associate with non-Orthodox rabbis. It’s guilt by association. People think that if Orthodox Rabbi A speaks at the same event as Non-Orthodox Rabbi B, people will think that A agrees with B about everything and that A is endorsing B. Such silliness! People can disagree and still talk to each other!

Parents will choose not to send to certain schools because there are other parents in the school that are not “frum enough” for them. The decision of where to send children to school should be about education, not association.

Similarly, people have a hard time seeing that making an argument on behalf of another person or group of people is not a letter of approbation. It’s simply an opportunity to see things from another perspective. Take it or leave it. But don’t leave it and leave the person making the argument too. One can advocate for tolerance or understanding even when one disagrees. This is something we need to work on. Our communities become so narrow and disconnected from other communities when we overvalue association. We need to learn how to be friends, or even just acquaintances, without completely absorbing the other worldview and the public must learn not to make drastic judgments based on associations.

If it’s any comfort, it appears that this is a universal flaw. As the Adegbile saga indicates, too many people are incapable of parsing out the facts of a given situation. Those people prefer to make blanket judgments and simplistic assumptions based on association alone.

I am ashamed that a lawyer was railroaded in this way. It does not bode well for other advocates for criminals. It also reminds us that we have a lot of work to do in unraveling our assumptions and seeing things for what they actually are as opposed to what we imagine they represent.

Link: NY Times

Visit Fink or Swim.

Rabbi Eliyahu Fink

More Natural Gas Found

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

On Wednesday evening, the Delek Group announced that they believe they’ve found an additional 57 billion cubic meters (2 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas at the Karish (“Shark”) 1 well. Updated estimates, on Thursday morning, are now saying there is possibly 80-100 billion cubic meters.

The drilling began in mid-March, and was expected to go on for 3 months.

The Karish well is 75 kilometers north west of Haifa. The waters depth is 1,740 meters, and they will be drilling down 4,900 meters.

This well is being drilled by Noble Energy (47.1%), Yitzhak Tshuva’s Delek Drilling (26.4%) and Avner Oil and Gas (26.4%).

The issue of what to do with the gas is a controversial subject in Israel, with some sides saying it should be exported, while other saying it should all be kept for domestic use.

Government profits from the gas are going to be put into a special fund, but JewishPress.com has been calling for Israel to follow the Alaska model introduced by Sarah Palin, where State income and sales tax have been cancelled, and citizens of Alaska personally receive checks from the oil revenue royalties and taxes.

Palin introduced the concept that the natural resources of the state belong to the citizens of Alaska, and they should profit from it directly.

Jewish Press News Briefs

President Palin?

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011
Last week’s column, on the declining popularity of several of talk radio’s most prominent conservative hosts, seems to have ruffled more than few feathers. Even some readers who in the past have agreed with the Monitor virtually down the line took issue this time – but, interestingly enough, not on the subject of talk radio hosts.
No, the umbrage – ranging from polite demurral to vehement disagreement – was directed at a parenthetical comment about Sarah Palin.
“Really,” I had asked, “how many times in a given hour can a listener with an IQ above room temperature abide hearing how Ronald Reagan was a precursor of today’s Tea Party activists (he was nothing of the kind) or how Sarah Palin is Abe Lincoln in heels (she is nothing of the sort)?”
My take on Sarah Palin is similar to what I feel about talk radio. When I hear a snooty liberal trash Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or Palin, I immediately get defensive and want to go to war because I’m inherently sympathetic to much of what Limbaugh or Hannity or Palin stand for.
But when I think about it rationally, I have to admit that Limbaugh and Hannity have become boring and predictable and at times a little careless with facts. (And I think Hannity actually had a better show on Fox when Alan Colmes was there as the putative co-host – it gave Hannity a liberal foil to play off of).
Likewise, while it pains me to write this because I appreciate her deep support of Israel and detest the barrage of attacks launched against her by the mainstream media from the moment John McCain introduced her to America as his vice-presidential pick, Sarah Palin is in no way qualified to be president of the United States.
People joke about Barack Obama being disconcertingly dependent on a TelePrompter, but he’s generally able to answer questions and talk off the cuff without making the listener cringe. Sarah Palin has a real problem answering the most basic of questions in even a semi-coherent manner.
            Palin’s responses to interviewers make her seem vacuous and totally uninformed – if you disagree, there’s plenty of evidence available to prove you wrong on YouTube, where her stupefying responses to the likes of Charles Gibson and Katie Couric are available in all their gruesome glory.
            While some conservative pundits were willing to break ideological ranks in the heat of the 2008 presidential campaign and question Palin’s credentials, it’s only in recent months, with the 2012 presidential contest coming into view, that there has been a really noticeable surge in publicly voiced anti-Palin sentiment on the right.
            As the editors of the ConservativeHome website wrote last month, after making note of the various economic and foreign-policy crises facing the country, “[W]e need a strong, serious decisive leader on the Republican ticket in 2012. Let’s face it. Sarah Palin is clearly not that leader. She’s fun. She’s attractive. She’s appealing. She’s down-home. She’s got a populist vibe. She shoots animals. But she’s clearly not presidential timber. Not in times like these.”
   Former Republican congressman and current MSNBC host Joe Scarborough (“Morning Joe”) asked, “What man or mouse with a fully functioning human brain and a resume as thin as Palin’s would flirt with a presidential run? It makes the political biography of Barack Obama look more like Winston Churchill’s.”
   To conservative columnist Mona Charen, Palin “would be terrific as a talk-show host – the new Oprah. But a presidential candidate? Someone to convince critical independent voters that Republicans can govern successfully? Absolutely not.”
   Janet Daley, a conservative columnist for the (London) Telegraph, wrote that “The virulent attacks on her from the liberal establishment [in 2008] reminded me uncannily of that mix of misogyny and snobbery which had been thrown at Margaret Thatcher, and if only for that reason, I was inclined to defend her. But enough is enough. She is not another Thatcher – nor is she another Reagan. She does not have the experience and substance of a Romney or the genuine warmth and charm of a Huckabee.”

   The last word this week goes to George Will, who said that after 2008, Palin “had to go home and study, had to govern Alaska well. Instead, she quit halfway through her first term and shows up in the audience of ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and other distinctly non-presidential venues.”


Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

Jason Maoz

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Democrats’ Selective


I am sickened by the politically induced brouhaha over Sarah Palin’s use of the term “blood libel” (“The Tucson Shootings and Sarah Palin,” editorial, Jan. 21). Though some may wish to keep that label for anti-Jewish invective – something I can understand but do not go along with – there is nothing evil about giving it broader application to serious, false accusations as Ms. Palin and so many others have done. Are all of them anti-Semites and insensitive to Jews?

In fact, Democrats in the past have shamelessly expropriated the term to bash their political opponents. If Sarah Palin can be justly criticized for her use of the term to defend herself against what she says are false accusations, what should we say about the Democrats’ use of the term for their own partisan purposes?

Brian Fishman

(Via E-Mail)


Jews vs. Palin

How anyone can accuse Sarah Palin of being insensitive to Jewish history when she chooses a term Jews use to describe false accusations against them – “blood libel” – to characterize false accusations made against her? And how can so many Jews – Jewish politicians, Jewish organizational leaders, Jewish pundits – take such delight in piling on against a woman who, whatever else you think of her, is one of the staunchest and purest supporters of Israel in American public life today?

Short-sighted American Jews, with their lapdog devotion to liberal Democrats and their knee-jerk antipathy to conservative Republicans, should be grateful that most conservatives support Israel out of conviction rather than political expediency – otherwise, a lot of powerful and influential Republicans would have thrown in the towel by now.

Elaine Bernstein

New York, NY


Rabbi Hier’s

‘Cheap Shots’

I know why professional Democrats would jump on Sarah Palin’s totally justified use of the term “blood libel” to describe attempts to tie her to the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords and the other innocent victims in Tucson. Politics, after all, is a dirty business.

But I was absolutely enraged when I read of Rabbi Marvin Hier’s cheap shots against Palin. In addition to criticizing Palin’s use of the term, he gratuitously added, “I have no idea if she knew” its meaning. Was he trying to impress some wealthy contributors or potential contributors to the Wiesenthal Center who happen to be machers in the Democratic Party? Could it be that the Wiesenthal Center’s proximity to Hollywood has affected the thinking of its “founder and dean”?

   For shame.

Yitzchok Mann

(Via E-Mail)


Obama Scarier

Than Palin

In his Jan. 21 op-ed column (“Palin Has Defeated Her Unfair Critics”) Ed Koch says Sarah Palin “scares the hell out me.”
What is so scary about Sarah Palin? Is it that she wants to sustain that which has existed for almost 200 years – a country whose people are free from arbitrary abuse and control by government and in which there exists a large measure of respect for private property rights and individual liberty?
But Koch, the “liberal with sanity,” is not scared of Barack Obama, who would, if he had his way, turn this country into a socialist utopia; who has created $1 trillion-plus budget deficits since he’s been in office; and whose socialized health program will destroy our health care system and increase the debt.

Koch should be a lot more scared of Obama than he is of Palin.

Alan Ernst

Cedarhurst, NY


Lipner Op-Ed

Gives Hope

Bravo to Dr. Asher Lipner for his insightful “A Lesson from King Saul on Exposing Child Molesters” (op-ed, Jan. 21). What a breath of fresh air to hear a frum mental health professional take to task the protection of Jewish molesters in our community.
Recently a friend of mine was forced to leave a shul after the rabbi verbally attacked him for informing some of the synagogue’s officers that another member, who donates large sums of money to the shul, is a registered convicted sex offender who on several occasions has exhibited bizarre behavior on the synagogue’s premises. The rabbi called the innocent member a “mirror” of the molester for talking about such “schmutz” and of speaking lashon hara.

   Reading Dr. Lipner’s article gives one hope that things are about to change for the better.

Boris Bengenya

(Via E-Mail)


Wigs And Their Cost

I take exception to reader Barry Koppel’s letter to the editor (Jan 21) regarding $3,000 sheitlach. Mr. Koppel wrote, “I understand why halacha demands that married women cover their hair. What I do not understand is how halacha allows a woman to wear an outrageously expensive sheitel that looks better than her own hair. Does that not defeat the entire purpose of wearing a sheitel in the first place?”
   A married woman’s hair is considered ervah and, as such, must be covered. Our Creator did not give us His rationale for that requirement. Unless Mr. Koppel has had a private audience with God and was clued in on His rationale for this requirement, Mr. Koppel cannot make assumptions about the purpose of wearing a sheitel. Hashem does not inform us of the purposes of most mitzvos lest people make their own judgments about the relevance of mitzvos in their particular times.

   The price tag of a sheitel certainly does not enter into the equation. A $300 sheitel, in the hands of a skilled sheitel macher, can be more beautiful than a $3,000 sheitel. And no one walks around with the price tag displayed prominently on a sheitel. I wonder if Mr. Koppel’s problem is with the price of the sheitel or its beauty.

Chavi Hornig

Brooklyn, NY



Young Talent

Thank you for showcasing the writings of two of my 6th grade students, Tohar Tsadok and Ariel Manakhimov, in your Tu B’Shevat contest (Jan. 21). Very few opportunities are available for children to show off their creative talents, and there is no shortage of talent in Yeshivas Ateres Yisrael in Canarsie, directed by Rabbi and Rebbetzin Jacob Jungreis. We nurture our students, who are given almost individual attention and whose skills are at least on par with (if they don’t exceed) students in larger yeshivot.

   Thank you once again for recognizing the creativity of our students: now they can proudly claim they are published authors!

Mrs. Hindy Lewis

Brooklyn, NY


Leftist Media Lynch 

Re Steve Walz’s January 7 Informed Sources column, “Will Olmert Follow Katsav?”:
I admit I am disposed toward the former president, having worked for him in Likud at the Tourism Ministry and bet Hanassi. Only he, his bureau chief and their Creator know the truth about what happened.
There were, however, gaping holes and glaring contradictions in the handling of this case. Yoram Sheftel a prominent liberal lawyer, said that “justice was not served in the Katsav case and that the judges were unable to stand up to media pressure . The verdict was totally incomprehensible based on the evidence.”
Former deputy supreme-court president Mishael Heshin was also skeptical. “The media’s intervention in this case has clearly affected the judges’ ability to judge . The judges would have to be made of iron in order to withstand this pressure, and I know these judges; they are not made of iron.”
Former criminal attorney and Maariv opinion editor Ben-Dror Yemini – who noted that the more powerful Katsav became among Likud members the less he was liked by the media – wrote that “Katsav was the victim of a feminist-leftist media lynch . It is clear that justice was not served in this case.”
The investigation against Katsav revealed so many problems with the complainants’ testimony that the two lead prosecutors on the case wanted to drop the charges. Katsav was offered a plea bargain that would have involved admitting relatively mild offenses and no jail time. Katsav rejected the plea.
“I was never a fan of Katsav,” Yemini continued. “Yet we are not dealing with public or political opinions but with matters of life and death and criminal justice. And now there is a concern, more than a concern, that the huge baggage [of anti-Katsav sentiment] seeped in. It was part of the conviction. Perhaps it was the deciding factor .”

Israel loves its scandals almost as much as it loves its heroes. From the moment Katsav stepped into the presidency, the secular elite drew their daggers even as the smiles never left their faces. We trust the truth will triumph upon appeal.

Martin Davidson

(Via E-Mail)

Our Readers

Palin Has Defeated Her Unfair Critics

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

As I see it, in the current battle for public opinion Sarah Palin has defeated her harsh and unfair critics.

After the January 8 shooting of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the murder of six others in Tucson, Arizona, some television talking heads and members of the blogosphere denounced her and held her in part responsible for creating a climate of hatred that resulted in the mass attacks.

An example is Joe Scarborough and his crew on the “Morning Joe” show, which I watch and generally enjoy every morning at 6:30 when I rise to start the day. Because Palin designated Congresswoman Giffords and others for defeat in the November elections by the use of crosshairs on website maps of the Congressional districts, they blamed Palin for creating an atmosphere that caused Jared Loughner (whom everyone now recognizes as being mentally disturbed) to embark on the shooting and killing spree.

Then reason set in, led by President Obama in a widely-lauded speech in Tucson. Most commentators did an about-face, recognizing that the lack of civility in both speech and actions by politicians, particularly in Washington, were not the cause of the shootings. A friend of the shooter said he had no interest in politics or talk radio. Insanity was the cause of his vicious acts, not political rhetoric.

While the charge of responsibility against Palin was dropped, the Scarborough crew continued to assail her for defending herself by stating that she had been the subject of a blood libel. Her critics were incensed that she should use the term “blood libel.” That was the description given by Jews to the charge of  Christian clergy who falsely accused Jews of killing Christian children in order to make matzah during the Passover holiday. That libelous accusation was intended by those using it to cause pogroms that killed and injured thousands of Jews. That same charge – blood libel – is now repeated by the media in Arab countries to stir up the anger of the Arab street against the Jews in Israel. The libel continues to do damage.

Today the phrase “blood libel” can be used to describe any monstrous defamation against any person, Jewor non-Jew. It was used by Ariel Sharonwhen he was falsely accused of permitting the Lebanese Christian militia to kill hundreds of defenseless and innocent Muslim men, women and children in Lebanese refugee camps. The killings were monstrous and indefensible revenge for earlier killings by Muslims of innocent Christian civilians.

Time magazine published a story implying that Sharon was directly responsible for the massacres. He sued the magazine. At trial it was determined that the magazine story included false allegations, but since Sharon was a public figure, he received no monetary damages.

How dare Sarah Palin, cried the commentators, use that phrase to describe the criticism of her by those who blamed her for creating the atmosphere that set Loughner off in his murderous madness. Some took the position that it proved their ongoing charges that she is not an intelligent person and probably did not know what the phrase meant historically. In my opinion, she was right to denounce her critics and use “blood libel” to describe the unfair criticism that she had been subject to.

Why do I defend Palin in this case? I don’t agree with her political philosophy: She is an arch-conservative; I am a liberal with sanity. But all of us have an obligation, particularly those in politics and public office, to denounce, when we can, the perpetrators of horrendous libels and stand up for those falsely charged. We should denounce unfair, false and wicked charges not only when they are made against ourselves, our friends or our political party but against those with whom we disagree.

If we are to truly change the poisonous political atmosphere that we all complain of, including those who create it, we should speak up for fairness when we can.

In the 2008 presidential race when Sarah Palin’s name was first offered to the public by John McCain as his running mate, I said at the time that she “scared the hell out of me.” My reference was to the content of her remarks, not to her power to persuade voters.

Ed Koch

Debate Continues To Rage Over Palin’s ‘Blood Libel’ Charge

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

   WASHINGTON – The post-shooting debate over political civility is cooling down, but passions are still raging over Sarah Palin’s claim that critics were guilty of perpetuating a “blood libel” against her.


   Palin’s initial use of the term, in a Jan. 12 video message, drew sharp rebukes from liberal Jewish groups and even some conservatives. Since then, however, several Jewish notables, including Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and former New York mayor Ed Koch have defended Palin’s use of the term.


   Palin weighed in again Monday during an interview on Fox News – her first since the Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) that also left six dead and another 12 wounded. Palin defended her use of the term “blood libel” and said she understands its meaning.


   “Blood libel obviously means being falsely accused of having blood on your hands and in this case that’s exactly what was going on,” Palin told Sean Hannity in the interview.


   Palin, a Fox guest contributor, also used the interview to condemn the shooting and other acts of political violence, and to offer prayers for the victims.


   The most recent Palin-related controversy echoes previous scrums revolving around the potential GOP presidential candidate, with critics arguing that she lacks the judgment, demeanor and smarts of a commander in chief, and her defenders seeing such slams as validation that she is just the right person to put the liberal elites in their place.


   Palin shows no signs of ceding the spotlight, but it was liberal politicians and commentators who were quick to put her in the center of the story following the shooting. Critics held Palin up as a prime example of violent political rhetoric that could have contributed to the gunman’s rampage, pointing to a map on her website that used images of gun crosshairs to indicate districts targeted in last year’s midterm elections.


   Giffords, who was shot and critically injured in the shooting attack, was the incumbent in one of the marked districts.


   During her Jan. 12 video message, Palin defended herself, insisting that “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.”


   Palin seemed to be conflating generic calls to tone down the rhetoric – including one from Clarence Dupnik, the Pima County sheriff who was leading the investigation – with a number of attacks directly accusing her of responsibility. In fact, the debate about rhetoric subsequent to the shooting did not hew to party lines, and liberal pundits were among those vigorously defending Palin’s right to use strong rhetoric, while conservatives were among those who suggested she needed to dial it down.


   Palin’s reference to the ancient fiction that Jews killed children to drink their blood as part of a ritual – one that has inspired pogroms, massacres and attacks on Jews throughout the centuries and even today is referenced as fact in parts of the Arab world and the former Soviet Union – set off alarm bells.


   Jewish reaction ranged from outraged to uncomfortable to defensive.


   “Instead of dialing down the rhetoric at this difficult moment, Sarah Palin chose to accuse others trying to sort out the meaning of this tragedy of somehow engaging in a ‘blood libel’ against her and others,” National Jewish Democratic Council President David Harris said in a statement condemning her remark. “Perhaps Sarah Palin honestly does not know what a blood libel is, or does not know of their horrific history; that is perhaps the most charitable explanation we can arrive at in explaining her rhetoric today.”


   The Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Anti-Defamation League refused to endorse the notion that her actions may have contributed to the shooting, but they criticized Palin’s use of the term “blood libel,” saying it was offensive to Jewish sensibilities.


   Jews for Sarah, a pro-Palin group, defended Palin, a potential Republican presidential candidate for 2012.


   “Gov. Palin got it right, and we Jews, of all people, should know a blood libel when we see one,” Jews for Sarah said. “Falsely accusing someone of shedding blood is a blood libel – whether it’s the medieval Church accusing Jews of baking blood in Passover matzahs, or contemporary Muslim extremists accusing Israel of slaughtering Arabs to harvest their organs, or political partisans blaming conservative political figures and talk show hosts for the Tucson massacre.”


   Within days, Dershowitz, Boteach and Koch also defended Palin.


   The Anti-Defamation League said it was inappropriate to blame Palin after the Tucson shooting and that she had every right to defend herself.


   But, the organization noted in a statement, “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.”


   The question, said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a communications expert at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School, was whether using a charged term like blood libel reinforced Palin’s legitimate argument at the unfair targeting of the right wing in the days after the shooting, or whether using the term undercut the point.


   “It distracts from her argument, which is thoughtful,” Jamieson told JTA. “If you are trying to get an audience to rethink, you don’t inject this particular historic analogy.”


   The fallback defense for Palin’s acolytes and others who defended her was that while the use of the phrase might be overwrought, she is hardly the first to commit this sin. Jim Geraghty, a correspondent at the conservative National Review, cited an extensive list of its uses over the past 10 years, though practically no elected officials were on it.


   Jamieson, who conducted a similar search, found that invoking the term in political argument is usually the province of bloggers and polemicists, not those who have held high political office or aspire to it.


   Voices across the Jewish religious and political spectrums, from the Reform movement to the Orthodox Union, and from liberals to conservatives, echoed the ADL’s statement.


   “The term ‘blood libel’ is so unique, and so tinged with the context of anti-Semitism, that its use in this case – even when Ms. Palin has a legitimate gripe – is either cynically calculated to stimulate media interest or historically illiterate,” Noam Neusner, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, wrote on Pundit Wire.


   “It is therefore distracting to Ms. Palin’s underlying message, which is one of sympathy for the victims and outrage that she and others are being accused of inspiring a mass murderer.”


   On the other hand, Koch and Dershowitz – two Jewish Democrats – defended her.


   In an op-ed column Koch declares that Palin had “defeated her harsh and unfair critics,” and argued that these days the “blood libel” term can “be used to describe any monstrous defamation against any person, Jew or non-Jew.”


   [Editor’s note: Please see page 4 for Mr. Koch’s op-ed article.]


   Koch frames the controversy as part of the wider debate over Palin, writing that “the fools in politics today in both parties are those who think she is dumb,” though he added that she is “not knowledgeable in many areas and politically uninformed.”


   “Many women understand what she has done for their cause,” writes Koch, who has endorsed Republicans for president but says he is “scared” of Palin.


   “She will not be silenced, nor will she leave the heavy lifts to the men in her party. She will not be falsely charged, remain silent and look for others – men – to defend her. She is plucky and unafraid.”


Ron Kampeas

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/debate-continues-to-rage-over-palins-blood-libel-charge-2/2011/01/19/

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