Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Abe Foxman on Sarah Palin's "Blood Libel" and Palestine

The Anti-Defamation League's Abe Foxman, whose organization was founded to address anti-Semitism, was called to address Sarah Palin's inappropriate use of  the term "blood libel." Instead of giving her the benefit of the doubt that she was ignorant of the term's loaded history (doesn't she have any Jews on staff?), Foxman raps her gently on the knuckles. But first he spreads the blame around (the "blame game") then accuses the left of targeting Palin (she's not an "accessory to murder"!) and only then, towards the end,  issues a mild rebuke.

Foxman:
"It is unfortunate that the tragedy in Tucson continues to stimulate a political blame game.  Rather than step back and reflect on the lessons to be learned from this tragedy, both parties have reverted to political partisanship and finger-pointing at a time when the American people are looking for leadership, not more vitriol.  In response to this tragedy we need to rise above partisanship, incivility, heated rhetoric, and the business-as-usual approaches that are corroding our political system and tainting the atmosphere in Washington and across the country.

It was inappropriate at the outset to blame Sarah Palin and others for causing this tragedy or for being an accessory to murder.  Palin has every right to defend herself against these kinds of attacks, and we agree with her that the best tradition in America is one of finding common ground despite our differences.

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."

This is all well and good. But look how the ADL responded when the subject was not the presumptive Republican candidate for president but Palestinians. In November 2009, a group of Palestinian Christian clerics issued a theological statement calling for equal rights with Jews and a fair resolution of Palestinian claims. The Palestine Kairos document follows a South African Kairos document that South African Black clerics drafted in 1985.
After reading the Palestine Kairos document, I find there are no substantive statements that I cannot support. I think all Jews who care for the future of Israel should read this document. This is a call for reconciliation between Jews and Palestinians, based on justice. As a Jew, I would use different language and different Biblical  sources, but this is about listening to the voice of the oppressed.

However, Foxman reserves different language for the Christian call for justice. He labels the Kairos document as: "awful". He excoriates the Palestinian Christians for grounding their claim in their own Biblical theology. He criticizes them strongly for attacking Israeli settler use of the Bible to justify the dispossession of native Palestinians.

Why, Mr. Foxman, is there one rule for Ms. Palin and another for Arabs?

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