Sorry for the inconvenience.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The "Protocols of the Elders of Zion"

THE "PROTOCOLS OF THE ELDERS OF ZION," a major source for most anti-Semitic conspiracy theories to this day, were written by an anonymous author working for the Okhrana, the Russian secret police, in Paris at the end of the 19th century.

The "protocols" are said to be the minutes of a conference of Jewish leaders drawing up plans to dominate the world. In the book, the "Elders of Zion" are accused of corrupting the country by spreading liberal ideas, undermining the rightful position of the nobility, stirring up social unrest and revolution.

The "Protocols" do not immediately draw much attention when published in Russia in 1905, but this changes after the Revolution. Anti-Bolshevists point to the "Protocols" to explain the sudden and radical changes in Russia and to justify anti-Semitic violence during the Civil War. In 1921 evidence is produced that the "Protocols" are a forgery: the author has plagiarized whole sections from a French publication of 1864 which was directed against Napoleon III and had nothing to do with Jews.

The leaders of the German National Socialist Party, notably Hitler and Goebbels, refer frequently to the "Protocols." In Hitler's "Mein Kampf" the "Protocols" are presented as proof of an alleged "Jewish conspiracy" to dominate the world, and the persecution of Jews as a necessary self-defense.

In this way, the "Protocols" come to justify the discrimination and later the extermination of Jews by the Nazis. After the Second World War, the "Protocols" find new adherents in the Arab world by providing an "explanation" for the military victories of Israel. Today, the book continues to be distributed by Neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic groups.

The Dearborn Independent saw Jews as carrying out "revolutionary programs to break up the present control of society." These "revolutionary programs" revolve around economic control: the Jewish plan is "to control the world, not by territorial acquisition, not by military aggression, not by governmental subjugation, but by control of the machinery of commerce and exchange." According to The International Jew, "it is not merely that there are a few Jews among international financial controllers; it is that these world-controllers are exclusively Jews." The book claimed that "the motion picture influence of the United States, of the whole world, is exclusively under the control, moral and financial, of the Jewish manipulators of the public mind."

"The only statement I care to make about the Protocols is that they fit in with what is going on," Ford stated in 1921. "They have fitted the world situation up to this time. They fit it now."

Cover of a Russian edition of the "Protocols" published in 1992. Already in 1934, a Swiss Court concluded that the "Protocols" were a forgery. In 1992 a Ukrainian Court reached the same verdict.

Cover of a Polish edition of the "Protocols," published during the Nazi occupation of Poland. Poznan, 1943

French edition: "The Jewish Danger: Complete Text of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion." 1934

Spanish edition of the "Protocols": "The Invisible World Government, or the Jewish Program to Subjugate the World." 1930

This English translation of the "Protocols" uses the classic anti-Semitic image of the Jew as a snake encircling the globe. London, 1978

The Dreyfus Affair

IN SPITE OF LEGAL EQUALITY and progressing integration into Western societies at the end of the 19th century, anti-Semitism remains a threat to Jews. But anti-Semitic attacks are now opposed by people who take up the continued discrimination of Jews as an issue of human rights. The greater integration, but also the greater exposure to anti-Semitic discrimination, is reflected in the Dreyfus Affair, an anti-Semitic incident that engaged French society and the political forces for many years.

In 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, an officer on the French general staff, is accused of spying for Germany, France's opponent in the last war. The only evidence is a scrap of paper, retrieved from the wastebasket by a cleaning woman, with handwriting that does not much resemble that of Dreyfus. But Dreyfus is Jewish, the only Jew on the general staff. And Jews are considered people without a fatherland, insufficiently loyal to the country they live in.

Dreyfus is convicted, partly on evidence forged by anti-Semitic officers, and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil's Island off the coast of South America. At his public demotion, a crowd - incited by the anti-Semitic press - shouts anti-Jewish slogans. A journalist publicizes Dreyfus's cause, but the real culprit, Major Esterhazy, whose guilt is now known to the government, continues to be protected.

The Dreyfus affair splits France in two. On one side stand the government, the conservative parties, the church and the army, who believe that the honor of the nation may not be sacrificed for the sake of one Jew, guilty or innocent. To the other side rally the progressive forces critical of the regime and its political direction - led by the writer Emile Zola and the politician Jean Jaurès. For them, the affair symbolizes the disregard of justice and human rights in the French republic. More trials follow, but it takes more than a decade - and the fall of the government - until Dreyfus is finally declared completely innocent of the charges.

The affair is followed all over the world. Theodor Herzl, a Jewish journalist from Vienna who covers the trial, concludes that assimilation is no protection against anti-Semitism and that even a person as well integrated as an officer on the French general staff is not safe from the hatred. He comes to believe that Jews will remain strangers in their countries of residence and need a country of their own. His book The Jewish State: A Modern Solution to the Jewish Question is published in 1896 and leads to the founding of the Zionist Organization one year later.

Police photograph of Albert Dreyfus after his conviction. The epaulets and buttons have been removed from his uniform.

The Dreyfus Affair produced an enormous amount of postcards. This card uses the well-known anti-Semitic image of the treacherous Jew (Dreyfus) in the form of a snake. From the postcard series "Museum of Horror," no. 6 : "The Traitor."

An anti-Dreyfus poster: Jews are being driven out of France. The caption reads: "Long live France! Long live the Army! Down with the Jews! Death to the traitors!" The poster also calls for a boycott of Jewish shops.

Dreyfus's degradation after his conviction: he is stripped of his braid and buttons, and his sword is broken. Le Petit Journal, January 13, 1895.

The retrial of Albert Dreyfus in which he claimed his innocence. He was found guilty again, but with extenuating circumstances. It meant that he was not sent back to Devil's Island.
The Illustrated London News, August 19, 1899.

The campaign to rehabilitate Dreyfus was derided by the anti-Semitic press as a Jewish conspiracy. "Judas Defended by his Brothers" shows Dreyfus receiving money from a German, while Jews distribute the pamphlet "A Judicial Error." La Libre Parole, 1898.

Alfred Dreyfus, aged 75, in the year of his death in 1934.