What were the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?
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Good question. First, here’s what they’re not, just to clear up some misconceptions.
There was a website that acts as the mouthpiece of the IJC, the International Jewish Conspiracy. It spoke of the mysteries of kabbalah, Jewish infiltration of both fundamentalist Christianity and the Moonies, secret signs and a newsletter from the Elders of Zion.
Sinister, indeed. In fact, it was a hoot, intentionally so, as it was a spoof. A clue was a news story on the home page, speaking of an ancient document recently found, The Book of Shlomo, telling of the time Moses parted the Atlantic Ocean and visited Bermuda for a one-week vacation with room, half-board and discounted wind surfing lessons included in the price of the parting! But I wonder how many were taken in by this clever, tongue-in-cheek website, before the penny dropped (the website seems to be no more). That’s the problem; that’s the tragedy.
We love conspiracies, whether involving moon landings, the death of presidents, movie stars or princesses, or fevered speculations about items of complete trivia, dreamed up by media moguls to increase circulation figures. Then there are the outlandish theories of who exactly is pulling the strings in the world today. Many candidates have been put forwards from the disguised lizards of David Icke, to the secret societies of the Freemasons, the Illuminati, the Jesuits, the Bilderburgs, the Knights Templar, the Rosicrucians, the Club of Rome and … yes, of course, the Jews.
And we’re not talking of just one alleged Jewish conspiracy; there’s a whole swathe of them. Whispers are heard of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Zionism is seen as a front for world domination, with the Israeli secret service (Mossad) pulling the strings. Then there are the Illuminati, the Freemasons, the United Nations, the New World Order, the Communists, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World’s press. Apparently all have been sucked into the Jewish web! Jews have been put forwards as the primary cause of most of the major problems that have weakened European society in the past 200 years such as: World War I, World War II, communism, socialism, liberalism, capitalism, mass immigration, forced integration, racial preference laws, and media bias. Such busy bees, we’ve been!
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is probably the most well known weapon in the armoury of anti-Jewish conspiracy nuts. It is also a complete forgery, but why should the truth get in the way of a good yarn? It is claimed to be the minutes of a meeting of Jewish leaders at the first Zionist congress in Basel, Switzerland in 1897 (or, as some say, a graveyard in Prague), when the Jews were hatching an audacious plot to take over the World!
What it actually was is not that easy to follow. It seems to be based on a pamphlet written at the turn of the 20th Century by a Russian forger as a means to discredit reforms in that country and bolster the influence of the Czar. This forger took material from a satire on Napoleon III by Maurice Joly and from a novel by Hermann Goedesche, a 19th Century German anti-Semite. The final form of the Protocols first appeared in Russia in around 1905, becoming a best seller by 1920 and promoted in the USA by none other than Henry Ford, who when he wasn’t building cars was ranting and raving about Jews. It was first exposed as a forgery by Philip Graves of The Times in 1921, not before one Adolph Hitler had a chance to read it and believe it.
Possibly after noticing that car sales were plummeting in parts of New York, Henry Ford was forced to make a public retraction, admitting that the book that he wrote in 1920, “The International Jew”, was based on the Protocols. He said, “I am deeply mortified that this journal, which is intended to be constructive and not destructive, has been made the medium for resurrecting exploded fictions, for giving currency to the so-called Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion, which have been demonstrated, as I learn, to be gross forgeries, and for contending that the Jews have been engaged in a conspiracy to control the capital and the industries of the world, besides laying at their door many offences against decency, public order and good morals...I deem it to be my duty as an honourable man to make amends for the wrong done to the Jews as fellow men and brothers, by asking their forgiveness for the harm which I have unintentionally committed, by retracting, as far as lies within my power the offensive charges laid at their door by these publications, and by giving them the unqualified assurance that henceforth they may look to me for friendship and good will ... “
Mind you, this didn’t stop him from being the first American recipient of a Nazi award bestowed upon non-Germans in 1938.
Of course anti-Semites of all persuasions are not going to let the fact that it is pure fiction get in their way as it is freely distributed these days by Muslim hate groups and neo Nazis. One recently broadcast Egyptian TV series, “A Knight without a horse”, is even based partly on it – there’s a scene where three old Jews are sitting in a room filled with religious artefacts and are heavily perspiring and conspiring as they plot and plan. This series even sparked a debate at the highest level between the Presidents of Israel and Egypt, the latter stating “The series is no more than an artistic comment on the history of Egypt and the region at large produced and directed in accordance with Egyptian laws."
Naturally the Nazis made good use of the Protocols as a justification for their paranoid hatred of the Jews. Since then, their main use has been as justification for Arab nationalism, and Muslim hatred against the State of Israel. The Protocols were translated into Arabic from the French edition probably in the late 1920s and by the 1950s the forgery could be found all over the Arab world, from Cairo to Beirut. They were even authenticated by Egyptian president Nasser whose brother published a new edition in 1968, under the title, "Brutukulat Hukama Sahyun wa-Ta`alim at-Talmud" ("Protocols of the Learned Men of Zion and Teachings of the Talmud").
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