For Israelis, the American Left's assault on Sarah Palin and the conservative movement in the wake of Jared Loughlin's murderous attack in Tuscon, Arizona was disturbingly familiar.
Just as the American leftist media and political leadership immediately sought to blame Palin, the Tea Party and conservative media personalities for Loughlin's actions, so in 1995, their Israeli counterparts accused the Right - from then opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu, to rabbis to the two million Israelis who protested against the so-called "peace process" with the PLO - of responsibility for Yitzhak Rabin's assassination.
Just as Palin and her fellow conservatives are accused of inciting the schizophrenic shooter to pull the trigger, so Netanyahu and his fellow rightists were accused of inciting the sociopathic Yigal Amir to plot and carry out his crime.
And just as it doesn't matter to the American media elites that American conservatives engaged in no such incitement, and that Loughlin himself seemed motivated to act by a mad obsession with grammar, so it didn't matter to their Israeli counterparts that Amir's closest associate and the man responsible for the most incendiary anti-Rabin propaganda was Avishai Raviv - a government agent.
Palin's characterization of the Left's appalling assault on her and her fellow conservatives as a "blood libel," was entirely accurate. Moreover, as her previous use of the term "death panels," in the healthcare debate brought clarity to an issue the Left sought to obscure, so her use of the term "blood libel," exposed the nature of the Left's behavior and highlighted its intentions.
By warning about "death panels," Palin exposed the fly in the ointment of government healthcare. Government control will induce scarcity of healthcare and government rationing will necessarily follow. That rationing in turn will be undertaken by panels of government officials empowered to decide who gets what care. Her remark focused the debate on the flaws in the program in a way no other had.
In the case of her use of the term "blood libel," Palin exposed the Left's attempt to criminalize conservatives and make it impossible for conservatives to either defend themselves or pursue their alternative policy agenda.
A blood libel involves two things. First, it involves an imaginary crime. Second, it involves the accusation that an entire group of people is guilty of committing that crime that never occurred.
Classically, of course, blood libels have been used against Jews. Anti-Semites accused Jews of killing Christians for ritual use of their blood. Jews had murdered no one and Judaism has no ritual involving the use of human blood. Yet repeatedly entire communities were criminalized and persecuted based on these blood libels.
By criminalizing the entire community based on false allegations regarding a never-committed crime, anti-Semites made it impossible for Jews to go on about our lives. If we sought to deny the charges, we gave them credibility. If we ignored the charges, our silence was interpreted as an admission of guilt. And no matter what we did, the blood libel firmly attached the stench of murder to a completely innocent Jewish community.
Just as their Israeli counterparts did in the wake of Rabin's assassination, so the American Left seeks to attach a sense of criminality and violence to the American Right in order to make it socially and otherwise unpalatable to support or otherwise identify with it.
By calling the Left out for its behavior, Palin exposed its agenda. But the logic of the blood libel remained. Trusting the public's ignorance, and the liberal Jewish community's solidarity, the leftist media in the US immediately condemned Palin for daring to use the term, hinted she was an anti-Semite for doing so, and argued that by defending herself, she was again inciting violence.
Many conservative thinkers and politicians have long viewed Palin as a liability. By remaining in the spotlight, they allege, Palin is helping the Left. They argue that the media have already destroyed her ability to communicate with non-conservatives. And since she is viewed as a conservative leader, by failing to shut up, she is making it impossible for other potential leaders who the media don't despise to connect with the swing voters they will need to unseat Obama in 2012.
While alluring, this position does more than harm Palin. It renders the 2012 elections irrelevant.
It doesn't matter whether these conservative thinkers support Palin. What matters is that by telling her not to defend herself from libelous attacks, they are accepting the Left's right to criminalize all conservatives. If she is not defended against a patently obscene effort to connect her to a madman's rampage in Tuscon, then conservatives in the US are signalling they really don't want to control US policy. They are saying that if a Republican is elected in 2012, he or she will continue to implement Obama's radical policies.
In certain ways, Palin is a revolutionary leader and the Tea Party movement is a revolutionary movement. For nearly a hundred years, the Left in its various permutations has captured Western policy by controlling the elite discourse from New York and Los Angeles to London to Paris to Tel Aviv. By making it "politically incorrect," to assert claims of Western, Judeo-Christian morality or advocate robust political, economic and military policies, the Left has made it socially and professionally costly for people to think freely and believe in their countries.
What distinguishes Palin from other conservative leaders in the US and makes her an important figure worldwide is her indifference to the views of the Left's opinion makers. Her capacity to steer debate in the US in a way no other conservative politician can owes entirely to the fact that she does not seek to win over Leftist elites. She seeks to unseat them.
The same can be said of the Tea Party. The reason it frightens the Left, and the Republican leaders who owe their positions to their willingness to accept the Left's basic agenda, is because it does not accept the Left's policy agenda.
Today in Israel the Left is running a campaign to protect foreign-financed, anti-Zionist, Israeli registered NGOs from public scrutiny. All politicians who support an effort to publicly expose these groups' foreign funders are demonized as "anti-democratic," and "fascist."
Fearing the Left's assault, Likud ministers Dan Meridor, Michael Eitan and Benny Begin as well as Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin have sided with these radical, anti-Zionist groups against their transparency-seeking Knesset colleagues. And all four men were congratulated for their commitment to "democracy," and "liberal norms," by the media.
It doesn't matter that the Left's accusations against those demanding transparency are completely ridiculous and libelous. It doesn't matter that the Left's campaign exposes a deep-seated fear of the very democracy it fraudulently claims to value. What matters to these Likud politicians is that the media places them above their unwashed colleagues.
It can be argued that modern Zionism began with the 1840 Damascus blood libel. When Syrian Christians colluded with the Muslim leaders to accuse and persecute the Jewish community for the imagined crime of ritual murder, Jewish leaders in Europe and the US mobilized to the defend them. This was the first instance of modern world Jewish solidarity. And it was a necessary precursor to the Jewish national liberation movement whose first stirrings were felt at that time with mass Jewish immigration to Jerusalem.
The Left's campaign against Palin is not just about Palin. If she is discredited for standing up to blood libels then no one in the US or anywhere else can expect to succeed in moving past the failed and dangerous leftist policy agenda. But if she is defended, then a world of possibilities opens up for all of us.