Pamela Geller, the activist behind the anti-Park51 hysteria, and the co-founder of Stop the Islamicization of America, is railing against accusations that her incendiary, inciting speech against Islam played a role in shaping the thinking of Norway terrorist Anders Behring Breivik. Yesterday, she called these criticisms of the “über-left, Islamic media machine” and “a blood libel of the worst kind.”
When Sarah Palin accused her critics, who raised questions about her crosshairs map in the wake of Jared Loughner’s shooting rampage, of engaging in “blood libel,” Anthea Butler wrote in these pages:
Blood libel, a term rooted in medieval Christianity, started as a rumor that Jews were killing Christian babies, and using their blood to mix into matzoh. The blood libel, refuted first by Pope Innocent IV through a series of papal bulls, has nonetheless persisted throughout history as a way for Christians at times to scapegoat Jews.
And Susannah Heschel gave us a brief history of the term, worth revisiting now:
The accusations of ritual murder and cannibalism tell us nothing true about Christian or Jewish religious worship, but they are windows into the minds of the accusers. The tale these Christians fabricated, about Jews engaging in a ritual murder of a young Christian boy and then drinking his blood, re-created the scenario of the crucifixion of Jesus. When Jesus was crucified by the Romans, of course, Christians could neither rescue him nor vent their rage at the Roman Empire. That dilemma is made plain by the Gospels, which largely blame the Jews rather than the Romans for the death of Jesus; after all, only a fool would risk the wrath of the Roman Empire by holding Rome responsible for the death of Christ.
In the medieval accusations against Jews, however, the outcome was different: once the outcry of ritual murder was brought against a local Jewish community, its men were put to death as retaliation—not simply for the alleged death of a local Christian boy, but for the Jews’ collective guilt for the death of Jesus.
This isn’t the first time Geller has thrown about an accusation of blood libel; on her blog, Atlas Shrugs, she has written that the Goldstone Report was a “blood libel;” at Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government site she defended Palin for her use of the term, writing, “[t]he ferocious, relentless attacks on Sarah Palin are a testament to her greatness, proof of how deathly afraid of her they are, like Dracula to the silver cross.” That’s a bizarre inversion of the blood libel charge; while anti-Semites accused Jews of drinking the blood of Christians, and even, as Heschel noted, implied that the Dracula character was a Jew, Geller accused Palin’s critics of being the blood-suckers. Perhaps for that and countless other reasons, Geller could use a refresher course on the history of anti-Semitism.
Geller shares a victim complex with Palin: each simultaneously declared herself a victim of those who would falsely accuse her of the worst possible crime, while elevating her own self-invention as a prophet sounding an alarm about imagined evil forces that threaten us all. Geller does not believe she has slandered Muslims, or contributed to anti-Muslim hysteria that’s very much like anti-Semitism; instead, in her twisted mind, anyone who rejects her hate speech is not heeding her warnings about a Muslim plot against America and the West.
But for Geller, who is Jewish, the invocation of the term has added resonance, as if her invented victimhood is somehow analogous to that of the real victims of anti-Semitism, wrongly accused of committing atrocious acts. And for her defenders, anyone who questions her must be an anti-Semite— even another Jew. Because anyone who doesn’t listen to Pam Geller must be the self-hating type, a traitor, the secret Nazi collaborator with the Islamic jihadists.
The website Jews Against Obama once defended Geller’s Islamophobia by accusing the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mark Potok of “blood libel” after his organization published a blog post, “White Supremacists Find Common Cause with Pam Geller’s Anti-Islam Campaign.” Jews Against Obama went on to write that Potok “has chosen a path of Nazi-ism and death over his Jewish faith, and has projected his own evil, on a righteous Jewish woman, who is also one of his own people, namely, Pamela Geller.”