(JTA) — In her first interview since the Arizona shooting, Sarah 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 an interview Monday on Fox. Palin is a Fox guest contributor.
Historically the term refers to accusations that began in the Middle Ages that Jews used the blood of murdered Christian children to make matzah for Passover. But in recent days, Palin’s defenders, including some prominent Jewish figures, say the term is also used more generally now along the lines described by the former vice presidential candidate.
In a video statement released last week, Palin defended herself against criticism in the mainstream media that a map on her website that used images of gun crosshairs to indicate districts targeted in last year’s midterm elections helped lead to the violence. The district of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was shot and critically injured in the Jan. 8 shooting attack, was one of the marked districts.
"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. That is reprehensible,” Palin said in the video statement.
Palin, who would not discuss her future political aspirations, but is thought to be a potential 2012 presidential candidate, pointed out to Hannity that The Wall Street Journal had used the term in a headline just days earlier. She said she does not believe her use of the term makes her politically "toxic."
Palin offered her condolences to the victims of the shooting and their families, quoting from the book of Jeremiah.
The map was removed from her website by the paid graphic designer following the shooting, which Palin said she believed was appropriate. She also said the use of crosshairs on a political map was not an original idea.
Giffords’ condition was upgraded from critical to serious on Monday. She is no longer on a respirator and a feeding tube has been put in its place.