Sarah Palin decided to answer what she called “irresponsible statements” that placed some of the blame for the Arizona shootings on politicians like her who put political opponents in the crosshairs of a rifle site.

Sarah Palin

“Journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel,” she said.

Was she purposely using anti-Semitic imagery in the shooting of a Jewish congresswoman in her own self-defense?

Blood libel was a story manufactured to justify killing Jews. It refers to the story that Jews kill Christian babies to use their blood for the Passover seder.

The name “Passover” comes from the Biblical story that when the Jews were slaves in Egypt, God sent plagues to convince Pharaoh to “Let my people go.”

One of the 10 plagues was the death of the first-born. Jews marked their doorposts with lamb’s blood to indicate that they were not Egyptian, and the angel of death passed over Jewish homes, sparing their first-born.

The blood libel used since the Middle Ages said that Jews tortured and killed Christian babies to use their blood in baking matzo, the unleavened bread eaten during the weeklong holiday. It probably originated in the 12th century during the first Crusade.

The blood libel was used to justify the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290, the expulsion of the Jews from Germany in 1348, the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 (also known as the Inquisition), pogroms in Russia and all sorts of anti-Semitic violence up through the Nazi extermination of 6 million Jews in concentration camps.

For Palin to use the term in her own defense is a new low for the former Alaska governor.

At best, use of the term was just a refudiation — an inappropriate and incorrect use of a term that she had no idea would be so offensive.

But I don’t give her a pass. This is a woman who could have been vice president of the United States. She crossed a line between simply offending opponents while defending herself — and blatant anti-Semitism.

In calling this a blood libel, was Palin saying that she is justified in putting the congresswoman in the crosshairs because Gabrielle Giffords kills Christian babies? Sound ridiculous? That’s what the blood libel implies.

Go here to watch the full seven-minute Palin diatribe.