Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Palin Invokes Anti-Semitism to Deflect Blame for Arizona Murders

By Edward Yudelovich
Published Jan 23, 2011 7:36 PM

Twenty people were shot and six of them died while attending a political rally for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 8. Giffords, who was seriously wounded in the attack, was the first Jewish woman congressional representative from Arizona and openly identified as Jewish during the election campaign.

Sarah Palin, the unsuccessful Republican candidate for vice president in 2008 and spokesperson for the racist Tea Party movement, during the 2010 elections put a map on her website with Rep. Giffords’ district behind the crosshairs of a rifle, accompanied by the words, “Don’t retreat, RELOAD!”

Palin commented on the Arizona massacre on Jan. 12: “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 that they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.” How dare Sarah Palin compare her situation to that of the Jewish victims of anti-Semitism, which included 6 million murdered by the Nazis, one-third of all world Jewry, during World War II.

According to Wikipedia: “Blood libel refers to a false accusation or claim that religious minorities, usually Jews, murder children to use their blood in certain aspects of their religious rituals and holidays. Historically, these claims — alongside those of well poisoning and host desecration — have been a major theme in European persecution of Jews. The libels typically allege that Jews require human blood for the baking of matzos for Passover.”

According to Jewish historian Walter Zeev Laqueur: “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. ... In almost every case, Jews were murdered, sometimes by a mob, sometimes following torture and a trial.”

In 1910 many Jews, including this writer’s family, fled to the U.S. from czarist Russia following anti-Jewish pogroms, similar to the night raids of the Ku Klux Klan in the U.S. An anti-Semitic flier in Kiev read: “Christians, take care of your children! It will be Jewish Passover on March 17.” In the 1920s the capitalist auto industrialist Henry Ford published a virtual encyclopedia of this type of anti-Semitic material in his series of books, “The International Jew.” For this effort, Adolf Hitler awarded him the Grand Cross of the German Eagle in 1938.

Sarah Palin is not the clown portrayed by Tina Fey on “Saturday Night Live.” She rose to prominence to give the ultraright a new lease on life. Her political mentors in Alaska politics were Mark Chryson, a leader of the extremely right-wing Alaska Independence Party, and Steve Stoll, a John Birch Society activist. The AIP is so racist and right wing that it considers the U.S. Civil War an act of Northern aggression.

In her speech at the 2008 Republican National Convention, Sarah Palin quoted from the infamous anti-communist, anti-Semitic and anti-labor John Birch Society writer, Westbrook Pegler, who publicly advocated the assassinations of both Franklin Roosevelt and Robert F. Kennedy. With fake populism, Pegler had said, “We grow good people in our small towns with honesty and sincerity and dignity.” Palin most likely got this quote from her ally, Nazi and Klan sympathizer Pat Buchanan, who used it in his 1990 book, “Right from the Beginning.”

In 1939 a cartoon appeared in newspapers across the country showing the Statue of Liberty holding the sign “KEEP OUT.” It was an ironic comment on “Lady Liberty,” the New York harbor statue which supposedly welcomed immigrants to the U.S. That year a ship full of Jewish refugees was denied entry to the U.S. The Jewish passengers were sent back to Germany and Hitler’s death camps. The message of that cartoon has never been rescinded by the U.S. ruling class. Its targets include Latinos/as, especially in Arizona, Asian Americans and really anybody who does not fit Sarah Palin’s definition of “good people grown in our small towns.”

There is a historic antidote to anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism, sexism, anti-LGBT attacks and all forms of bigotry. In 1943, the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto, the only survivors of Warsaw’s Jewish community, which had once numbered 500,000, rose up in rebellion against the Nazis and held off the German army for an entire month. Their example is universal, inspiring and empowering to members of every oppressed community to assert their right to freedom and equality and to sweep into the dustbin of history each and every one of imperialism’s racist storm troopers.

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