In 1982, when Israel’s military was accused of being responsible — directly or indirectly — for a massacre of hundreds of Muslims in refugee camps in Lebanon, Israeli leaders, including Ariel Sharon, erupted with indignation, labeling the allegations “blood libel.”
He interpreted the term, as far as I can tell, the same way that Sarah Palin interpreted it.
One is guilty of blood libel, Sharon suggested, when one falsely accuses another of being responsible for bloodshed.
Cries of “blood libel” weren’t confined to 1982. Israeli officials have made similar allegations, from time to time, over the years. (For example, in 1953, Israel accused the Soviet Union of blood libel).
As far as I can tell, no one accused the Israeli government — or Ariel Sharon — of anti-Semitism for using the term.
But it’s always dangerous to use terms that you don’t fully understand when you’re engaging in political speech — and I’m not sure Sarah Palin knew precisely what the term “blood libel” meant when she borrowed it.