With the term "blood libel" in the news the past few days because of Sarah Palin's injudicious use of the expression, the New York Times gives a brief history of the term's origins.
The expression “blood libel,” used by Sarah Palin in her denunciation of pundits and journalists, has its origin in a charge against Jews that took hold in the Middle Ages in a period of rising anti-Semitism.
The first known accusation surfaced in 1144 in Norwich, England, when a boy named William, an apprentice to a tanner, was found dead in the woods.
The town was soon in an uproar, blaming Jews for his death...
Read full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/13/us/13bloodlibel.html?hpw