Sarah Palin at Glenn Beck rally in Washington Reuters Aug. 28, 2010
Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin greeting the crowd at the 'Restoring Honor' in Washington on August 28, 2010. Photo by Reuters
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Former U.S. vice presidential candidate and governor of Alaska Sarah Palin hit back at critics Wednesday, comparing accusations against her in the wake of the shooting attack on Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords to blood libel, a centuries-old claim that Jews use the blood of Christian children in religious rites.

"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 that they purport to condemn," Palin said in a video statement posted online Wednesday.

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“Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own, they begin and end with the criminals who commit them -- not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their first amendment rights at campaign rallies," she said.

Giffords, who is Jewish, is in critical condition after she was shot in the head during an attack in Tucson, Arizona last week. Six other people were killed by suspected gunman Jared Lee Loughner, 22.

In the wake of the attack, Palin has come under criticism for her aggressive political style, including setting up a website called "Take Back the 20," which included a map of the United States with cross hairs on congressional districts of Democratic candidates she had singled out for defeat.

One of those seats belongs to Giffords, who criticized Palin at the time.

"The way she has it depicted has the cross hairs of a gun sight over our district," Giffords told MSNBC television last year. "When people do that, they've got to realize there's consequences to that action."

The National Jewish Democratic Council slammed Sarah Palin's "blood libel" accusation saying "instead of dialing down the rhetoric at this difficult moment, Sarah Palin chose to accuse others trying to sort out the meaning of this tragedy of somehow engaging in a 'blood libel' against her and others."

"This is of course a particularly heinous term for American Jews, given that the repeated fiction of blood libels are directly responsible for the murder of so many Jews across centuries -- and given that blood libels are so directly intertwined with deeply ingrained anti-Semitism around the globe, even today", NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris said in a statement.

"Perhaps Sarah Palin honestly does not know what a blood libel is, or does not know of their horrific history; that is perhaps the most charitable explanation we can arrive at in explaining her rhetoric today," the statement said.