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The Department of History, University of Northampton & The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team



The "Protocols of the Elders of Zion"

In the 21st Century

Guest Publication by Arthur Wailer


[Please note that editorials posted in this section are the sole viewpoints of the individual author and do not necessarily

represent any collective opinion of the Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team, or the University of Northampton]



Thoughts on the Roots of Anti-Semitism in Europe


Ancient Menorah

The beginning of violent European anti-Semitism is often traced to the Crusades at the end of the eleventh century. Others claim it commenced in 1010 with organized mass murders of Jews in France, followed by massacres in areas that are now part of Germany. For almost a thousand years the many versions of religious anti-Semitism have been accompanied by other manifestations of Jew-hatred in political, economic, and cultural spheres.


A close study of the history of anti-Semitism shows that it is first and foremost an expression of political and cultural opposition to Jewish ideals. The earliest known anti-Semitic writings emanated from the ruling class of the Hellenistic empires of the Middle East, specifically the Ptolemaic empire based in Egypt and the Seleucid empire based in Syria.


From that time to the present, anti-Semitism in its most virulent manifestations has been consistently associated with one empire or would-be empire after another.


The ethnic or "racist" variant of political Jew-hatred began in the late 19th century in Germany. At that time the term anti-Semitism first appeared. Fed also by the religious variety, this culminated in the genocide of the Holocaust.


Anti-Semitism is an extreme form of irrational hate, which should not be confused with strong criticism. Jews have been demonized for millennia and defined as the source of all evil. Other recourses to ancient history are often used in Europe to "point to an immutable negative Jewish character. Jews have also been discriminated against in many societies while, simultaneously, having double moral standards applied to them.


Often enough anti-Semites will point to a refusal on the part of Jews to assimilate to national cultures or "identity" in the geographical locales of which Jews have settled and nurtured successful communities.


The Old testament of the Christian bibles makes reference to God's design for the Jewish people is to be separate and discrete:

  • "A nation that will dwell in solitude and not be reckoned among the nations." (Numbers 23:9)

  • Jews are bidden to be "a light unto the nations." (Isaiah 42:6) A light stands separate from that which it illuminates. The Divine charge to the Jewish people is to "be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." (Ex. 19:1) This is a mission from which we cannot resign because it is embedded in the Covenant between God and the nation of Israel.

The Covenant, which God introduced in His promises to the Patriarchs, which was accepted by the entire Jewish nation at Sinai (where all Jewish souls were present), and which was renewed on two other occasions in Jewish history, stipulates the following:


On God's side, He promised:

That the Jewish people will never cease to exist (Gen.17:7).
That He will never totally abandon the Jewish people (Lev. 26:44).
That the Jewish people will inherent the Land of Israel (Gen.12:7; Gen.15:18).

On Israel's side, we promised:

That we will be faithful to God and keep His Torah (Ex.24:7).

According to the Torah, unlike most covenants, this one is unconditional. Even if the Jews renege on their obligation, God, in the merit of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, will never annul his covenant with the Jews.


This belief has sparked much debate with varying opinion and it's not the purpose of this editorial to examine the religious dogma, however many learned intellectuals have made comments of one form or another:

  • "The Jew is that sacred being who has brought down from heaven the everlasting fire, and has illumined with it the entire world. He is the religious source, spring, and fountain out of which all the rest of the peoples have drawn their beliefs and their religions."
    --Leo Tolstoy

  • "It was in vain that we locked them up for several hundred years behind the walls of the Ghetto. No sooner were their prison gates unbarred than they easily caught up with us, even on those paths which we opened up without their aid."
    --A. A. Leroy Beaulieu, French publicist, 1842

  • "One of the gifts of the Jewish culture to Christianity is that it has taught Christians to think like Jews, and any modern man who has not learned to think as though he were a Jew can hardly be said to have learned to think at all."
    --William Rees-Mogg, former Editor-in-Chief for The Times of London and a member of the House of Lords


The "Protocols" and the "Great Hoax"


The conceptual inspiration for the Protocols can be traced back to the time of the French Revolution at the end of the 18th century. At that time, a French Jesuit named Abbe Barruel, representing reactionary elements opposed to the revolution, published in 1797 a treatise blaming the Revolution on a secret conspiracy operating through the Order of Freemasons. Barruel's idea was nonsense, since the French nobility at the time was heavily Masonic, but he was influenced by a Scottish mathematician named Robison who was opposed to the Masons.


In his treatise, Barruel did not himself blame the Jews, who were emancipated as a result of the Revolution. However, in 1806, Barruel circulated a forged letter, probably sent to him by members of the state police opposed to Napoleon Bonaparte's liberal policy toward the Jews, calling attention to the alleged part of the Jews in the conspiracy he had earlier attributed to the Masons. This myth of an international Jewish conspiracy reappeared later on in 19th century Europe in places such as Germany and Poland.


The Protocols are a complete forgery most of which was copied from an obscure satire on Napoleon III by Maurice Joly called "Dialogue aux Enfers entre Montesquieu et Machiavel" ("A Dialogue in Hell Between Montesquieu and Machiavelli").


Elements of the text in the Protocols appears to be plagiarized from an 1864 pamphlet, Dialogue aux enfers entre Machiavel et Montesquieu (Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu), written by the French satirist Maurice Joly. Joly's work attacks the political ambitions of Napoleon III using Machiavelli as a diabolical plotter in Hell as a stand-in for Napoleon's views.


Joly himself appears to have borrowed material from a popular novel by Eugène Sue, The Mysteries of the People, in which the plotters were Jesuits. Jews do not appear in either work. Since it was illegal to criticize the monarchy, Joly had the pamphlet printed in Belgium, then tried to smuggle it back into France. The police confiscated as many copies as they could, and it was banned. After it was traced to Joly, he was tried on April 25, 1865, and sentenced to fifteen months in prison. Joly committed suicide in 1878.

The story of the Protocols then continues with a chapter in a novel called "Biarritz" by a German bureaucrat named Hermann Goedesche.  In the chapter, “The Jewish Cemetery in Prague and the Council of Representatives of the Twelve Tribes of Israel”, Goedsche wrote about a nocturnal meeting between members of a mysterious rabbinical cabal, describing how at midnight, the Devil appears before those who have gathered on behalf of the Twelve Tribes of Israel to plan a “Jewish conspiracy”.


In 1871, the story was being presented in France as serious history. In 1872, the “The Jewish Cemetery in Prague”, translated into Russian, appeared in St. Petersburg as a separate pamphlet of purported non-fiction. François Bournand, in his Les Juifs et nos contemporains  (1896), reproduced a speech from the chapter as that of a Chief Rabbi “John Radcliff”.


In 1901 a Russian official in the Chancery of the Synod of Moscow named Sergei Alexandrovich Nilus published a strange work entitled, "The Great in the Little and the Antichrist as a Proximate Political Possibility". Nilus expressed the view that only the Holy Russian Empire could save the world from the rule of Antichrist.


The Victor Mardsen Translation

The idea behind the book was to bolster the absolute authority of the Czarist regime. In 1905 a second edition of the book appeared with one significant addition - the Protocols!

A secret investigation ordered by the newly appointed chairman of the Council of Ministers Pyotr Stolypin soon determined that the Protocols were authored by operatives of the Okhranka in Paris. The details were not made public to avoid compromising the chief of secret service Pyotr Rachkovsky and his agents, but when Nicholas II learned of the results, he requested:


"The Protocols should be confiscated, a good cause cannot be defended by dirty means". Despite of the order, or because of the "good cause", numerous reprints proliferated.

Nilus circulated several editions of the Protocols in Russia as part of an anti-Semitic campaign. Though the early prints were in Russia, the Protocols quickly spread to the rest of Europe by Russian expatriates after the 1917 revolution. Some of them claimed that it provided proof that the Jews were behind the Russian Revolution. Another expatriate Russian, Boris Brasol, brought it to the United States around 1920 where it became the core of Henry Ford's anti-Semitic program. By the time Nilus died, Europe had been saturated by millions of copies of the Protocols.

Living the Lie


Just after its appearance in London in 1920, Lucien Wolf exposed the Protocols as a plagiary of the earlier work of Joly and Goedsche, in a pamphlet of the Jewish Board of Deputies. The following year, in 1921, the story of the forgery was published in a series of articles in the London Times by Philip Grave, the paper's correspondent in Constantinople.


A whole book documenting the forgery was also published in the same year in America by Herman Bernstein. Nevertheless, the Protocols continued to circulate widely. They were even sponsored by Henry Ford in the United States until 1927, and formed an important part of the Nazis' justification of genocide of the Jews in World War II.


During an interview published in the New York World February 17, 1921, Mr. Henry Ford put the case for the "Protocols of Zion" tersely and convincingly. He said:


"The only statement I care to make about the Protocols is that they fit in with what is going on. They are sixteen years old and they have fitted the world situation up to this time. They fit it now."


He made this statement when Jewish leaders and the Jewish Press in America were fulminating against a series of articles printed in Ford's newspaper The Dearborn Independent during the years 1920 to 1922. After some years of pressure such as only organized Jewry can conceive or inflict, Henry Ford was made to apologize to Jewry in a letter addressed to Louis Marshall, then leader of the American Jewish Committee, dated June 30, 1927. Ford's apology was abject, but neither then nor since did he ever deny the truth of the articles.

Adolf Hitler also wrote on the Protocols in his infamous book Mein Kampf. From Chapter XI: Nation and Race -- Volume I: A Reckoning:


. . . To what extent the whole existence of this people is based on a continuous lie is shown incomparably by the Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion, so infinitely hated by the Jews. They are based on a forgery, the Frankfurter Zeitung moans and screams once every week: the best proof that they are authentic. What many Jews may do unconsciously is here consciously exposed. And that is what matters!


It is completely indifferent from what Jewish brain these disclosures originate; the important thing is that with positively terrifying certainty they reveal the nature and activity of the Jewish people and expose their inner contexts as well as their ultimate final aims. The best criticism applied to them, however, is reality.


Anyone who examines the historical development of the last hundred years from the standpoint of this book will at once understand the screaming of the Jewish press. For once this book has become the common property of a people, the Jewish menace may be considered as broken.


Spreading the Lie


After the Second World War, proponents of The Protocols often charged that Jews had affirmatively encouraged the Holocaust. Typical of the genre was a Mexican reprint with a cover depicting a Jewish hand behind Nazism—and behind Masonry, Communism, and religious and financial powers. A common charge was the Jews instigated the murder of six million of their co-religionists in an effort to secure the world's sympathy, whether for the creation of the state of Israel or for other secret objectives.


German version of the Protocols

While there is continued popularity of The Protocols in nations from South America to Asia, since the defeat of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy in the Second World War governments or political leaders in most parts of the world have generally avoided claims that The Protocols represent factual evidence of a real Jewish conspiracy. The exception to this is the Middle East, where a large number of Arab and Muslim regimes and leaders have endorsed them as authentic.

As popular opposition to Israel spread across the Middle East in the years following its creation in 1948, many Arab governments funded new printings of the Protocols, and taught them in their schools as historical fact.

They have been accepted as such by many Islamist organizations, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Reportedly, Arabic editions issued in the Middle East were found on sale as far away as London. There are at least nine different Arabic translations of the Protocols and more editions than in any other language including German.

The Protocols also figure prominently in the anti-Semitic propaganda distributed internationally by the Arab countries and have spread to other Muslim countries, such as Pakistan, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

During the presidency of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt was the main source of internationally distributed antisemitic propaganda. In 1960, the Protocols were featured in an article published by Salah Dasuqi, military governor of Cairo, in al-Majallaaa, the official cultural journal.

In 1965, the Egyptian government released an English-language pamphlet titled Israel, the Enemy of Africa and distributed it throughout the English-speaking countries of Africa. The pamphlet used the Protocols and The International Jew as its sources and concluded that all the Jews were cheats, thieves, and murderers.

In a foreword to a translation of Shimon Peres' book The New Middle East, the Egyptian state-owned publisher al-Ahram editorialized in 1995:

"When The Protocols of the Elders of Zion were discovered, some 200 years ago, and translated in various languages, including Arabic, the World Zionist Organization attempted to deny the existence of the plot, and claimed forgery. The Zionists even endeavored to purchase all the existing copies, in order to prevent their circulation. But today, Shimon Peres proves unequivocally that the Protocols are authentic, and that they tell the truth."


The first Iranian edition of the Protocols was issued during the summer of 1978 before the Iranian Revolution after which the Protocols were widely publicized by the Iranian government. A publication called Imam, published by the Iranian embassy in London, quoted extensively from the Protocols in its issues of 1984 and 1985.

In 1985 a new edition of the Protocols was printed and widely distributed by the Islamic Propagation Organization, International Relations Department, in Tehran.

The Astaneh-ye Qods Razavi (Shrine of Imam Reza) Foundation in Mashhad, Iran, one of the wealthiest institutions in Iran, financed publication of the Protocols in 1994.


Parts of the Protocols were published by the daily Jomhouri-ye Eslami in 1994, under the heading The Smell of Blood, Zionist Schemes. Sobh, a radical Islamic monthly, published excerpts from the Protocols under the heading The text of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion for establishing the Jewish global rule in its December 1998–January 1999 issue, illustrated with a caricature of the Jewish snake swallowing the globe.

Iranian writer and researcher Ali Baqeri, who researched the Protocols, finds their plan for world domination to be merely part of an even more grandiose scheme, saying in Sobh in 1999:

"The ultimate goal of the Jews... after conquering the globe... is to extract from the hands of the Lord many stars and galaxies".


The Great Hoax today

The Protocols continues to be published and distributed in many nations, and via the internet. A Japanese edition displayed at the exhibition attests to the fact that the actual presence of Jews is not necessary for charges of a Jewish conspiracy to take hold.

Meanwhile, the forgery has found traction in much of the Middle East. Televised dramatizations of The Protocols have appeared on Egyptian television in October-November 2002 and on Al-Manar (Hezbollah) television in 2003. The latter version included scenes depicting Jews  draining the blood of a Christian child as an ingredient in matzah (unleavened bread consumed by observant Jews during the Passover holiday; the actual ingredients are flour and water only).

In 2003, the manuscript library at Alexandria, Egypt reportedly displayed an Arabic edition of The Protocols as an example of a Jewish holy book.

In 2005, Iranian booksellers displayed copies of The Protocols and The International Jew at the Frankfurt (Germany) Book Fair, the world's largest.

Syrian Edition circa 2005

The American retail chain, Wal-Mart, was criticized for selling The Protocols of the Elders of Zion on its website with a description that suggested it might be genuine. It was withdrawn from sale in September 2004, as 'a business decision'. It is distributed in the United States by Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam.

In 2002, the Paterson, New Jersey-based Arabic-language newspaper The Arab Voice published excerpts from the Protocols as true. The paper's editor and publisher Walid Rabah defended himself from criticism with the protestation that "some major writers in the Arab nation accept the truth of the book."


No matter where the "Protocols" appear in contemporary society the resounding theme by anti-Semites is that they continue to ring true, that the text somehow "fits" into current world events and International Jewry. Even should some kind of "fit" be found to current events, the Protocols are very general in their descriptions.


They describe plans for wars, political unrest, and economic crises. It's not too hard to predict the occurrence of any of these things in a general sense, and one observes that these things have occurred more or less continually throughout human history. Thus, the fact that these general facts fit any particular period does not speak to the authenticity of the Protocols in any way. It certainly does not validate the more specific but less demonstrable claims of secret plots and evil conspirators.


Hell, even Nostradamus is more specific in his quatrains then the protocols are to any specific event. Should we continue to worry?


Hmmmmmmmmm. I still often wonder

-Arthur Wailer







Copyright: 2007 Arthur Wailer   H.E.A.R.T


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