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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

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