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August 6, 2014 0

From the Archives: A Brief History of “The Protocols” in the U.S.

This week marks the 50th anniver­sary of a report by the Inter­nal Secu­rity Sub­com­mit­tee of the Sen­ate Judi­ciary Com­mit­tee repu­di­at­ing The Pro­to­cols of the Elders of Zion,a piece of para­noid, racist lit­er­a­ture long used by anti-Semites as sup­posed proof of a Jew­ish con­spir­acy to take over the world.

The Sen­ate report offered a his­tory and analy­sis of The Pro­to­cols, not­ing that it con­tin­ued to be “cir­cu­lated by the unscrupu­lous and accepted by the unthink­ing” despite being “repeat­edly and author­i­ta­tively exposed as a vicious hoax.”

The report described The Pro­to­cols as “one of a num­ber of fraud­u­lent doc­u­ments that ped­dle the myth of an ‘inter­na­tional Jew­ish con­spir­acy,’” adding that it had been among the most mali­cious (indeed, Adolf Hitler linked the nefar­i­ous plot of The Pro­to­cols with Germany’s post-war eco­nomic hard­ships). It fur­ther declared: “it is impos­si­ble for a fair minded per­son of any com­mon­sense not to see that the ‘Pro­to­cols’ are the fic­tional prod­uct of a warped mind and that for years they have been and still are the chief sta­ple of the anti-Jewish pamphleteer.”dearborn-independent-international-jew

At the time of its release, the Sen­ate sub­com­mit­tee requested pub­li­ca­tion of the report “in order to lay to rest any hon­est ques­tion con­cern­ing the nature, ori­gin, and sig­nif­i­cance of this ancient canard.” The Judi­ciary Committee’s report came 44 years after the intro­duc­tion of The Pro­to­cols to an Amer­i­can audi­ence and the ADL’s first cam­paign against it.

On May 22, 1920, Henry Ford’s news­pa­per, The Dear­born Inde­pen­dent, pub­lished the first install­ment of The Pro­to­cols under a ban­ner head­line: The Inter­na­tional Jew: The World’s Prob­lem. Rewrit­ten and “Amer­i­can­ized” for a US audi­ence, the Inde­pen­dent’s ver­sion of The Pro­to­cols appeared in issue after issue, pam­phlet, and book form. Mil­lions of copies were spread through­out the United States by Ford deal­ers, who were required to make copies avail­able to cus­tomers, and mem­bers of the KKK and other hate groups.

The fol­low­ing month, ADL sent “a dig­ni­fied let­ter ask­ing for a con­fer­ence” to Ford. When no response was received, an ADL inves­ti­ga­tion dis­closed “that the anti-Semitic cam­paign of The Dear­born Inde­pen­dent was delib­er­ately planned and a suf­fi­cient amount of evi­dence was secured to prove that the pub­lisher had the will­ing coop­er­a­tion not merely of for­eign anti-Jewish orga­ni­za­tions but of many groups in America.”

In Sep­tem­ber 1920, a spe­cial con­fer­ence of Jew­ish lead­ers con­vened and tasked ADL with spear­head­ing the response. ADL cir­cu­lated two pam­phlets out­lin­ing the his­tory and fab­ri­ca­tion of the Pro­to­cols: The Pro­to­cols – A Spu­ri­ous Doc­u­ment and The Poi­son Pen: Fur­ther rev­e­la­tions con­cern­ing Anti-Semitic Pro­pa­ganda in the United States. ADL again reached out to Ford and this time came to an agree­ment, but it was soon broken.the-truth-about-the-protocols-cover

On Jan­u­ary 16, 1921 author John Spargo released a let­ter of protest against anti-Semitic pro­pa­ganda signed by 119 dis­tin­guished non-Jewish Amer­i­cans, includ­ing Pres­i­dent Woodrow Wil­son and for­mer Pres­i­dents William Howard Taft and Theodore Roo­sevelt. ADL reprinted and dis­sem­i­nated Spargo’s let­ter and an arti­cle on anti-Semitism by for­mer Pres­i­dent Taft.

By 1927, Ford had pub­licly repu­di­ated the Inter­na­tional Jew and issued a pub­lic apol­ogy, and decades later, after The Pro­to­cols had become a sta­ple of Nazi pro­pa­ganda, Ford again expressed his con­cern about the cir­cu­la­tion of The Inter­na­tional Jew.

In a 1942 let­ter to ADL, Ford wrote, “I do not sub­scribe to or sup­port, directly or indi­rectly, any agi­ta­tion which would pro­mote antag­o­nism against my Jew­ish fel­low cit­i­zens.” Despite his apolo­gies, hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple around the world have been encour­aged by his ini­tial endorse­ment to accept the Pro­to­cols as gen­uine. Many today remain skep­ti­cal of Ford’s apology.

Since A Spu­ri­ous Doc­u­ment and The Poi­son Pen, instances of resur­gent use of The Pro­to­cols has spurred addi­tional ADL pub­li­ca­tions refut­ing The Pro­to­cols, includ­ing The Truth About the Pro­to­cols of the Wise Men of Zion (1939–1945), The Pro­to­cols and the Purge Trial (1952), and The Pro­to­cols: Myth and His­tory (1981).

Today, ADL mon­i­tors and reports on the con­tin­ued use of The Pro­to­cols by extrem­ists and anti-Semites around the globe. ADL has long asked book­sellers who stock The Pro­to­cols to label and cat­e­go­rize it appro­pri­ately. This prac­tice extends to online book sell­ers; both Ama­zon and Barnes & Noble place promi­nently on their list­ings of The Pro­to­cols an ADL state­ment that it is an anti-Semitic pla­gia­rized forgery, in addi­tion to lan­guage that makes clear the book­sellers do not endorse the con­tent.  

For more about The Pro­to­cols, see ADL’s The ‘Pro­to­cols’ at 100: A Hoax of Hate Lives On, A Hoax of Hate: The Pro­to­cols of the Learned Elders of Zion, and The Inter­na­tional Jew: 1920s Anti-Semitism Revived Online.

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July 3, 2014 0

From the Archives: ADL & the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – Part 3

On June 10, 1964, a year after Pres­i­dent Kennedy first intro­duced the Civil Rights Act to the nation in a tele­vised address, a coali­tion of 44 Democ­rats and 27 Repub­li­cans voted for clo­ture, which lim­ited fur­ther debate and ended the 57-day fil­i­buster of the bill.

ADL had lob­bied for the bill in the months prior, includ­ing orga­niz­ing a meet­ing of 100 Jew­ish busi­ness, pro­fes­sional, and civic lead­ers from all over the United States, who met in Wash­ing­ton, DC, and urged their home-state Sen­a­tors to take action towards pas­sage of the bill.

In a press release react­ing to the Senate’s vote for clo­ture, ADL National Chair­man Dore Schary stated:

The vote on the clo­ture rule which now assures pas­sage of the Civil Rights Act is a vic­tory for all who love jus­tice and love an Amer­ica con­ceived in lib­erty. It is a defeat for no one except those who would pre­vent Amer­ica from achiev­ing its ulti­mate dream… For the thou­sands of civil rights lead­ers and for the coun­try as a whole, the final pas­sage of the Civil Rights Bill will pro­vide new oppor­tu­ni­ties, which they dare not squan­der, to help our Negro cit­i­zens achieve a full mea­sure of their rights as Americans.

The Civil Rights Act passed the Sen­ate with a vote of 73–27 on June 19.

On June 21, the same day on which three civil rights work­ers were kid­napped and mur­dered in Mis­sis­sippi, the Illi­nois Rally for Civil Rights was held at Chicago’s Sol­dier Field. The Anti-Defamation League was among the spon­sors of the rally, which fea­tured the Rev­erend Mar­tin Luther King, Jr. The rally was planned to urge pas­sage by the Sen­ate, but was ulti­mately anti-climactic, as pas­sage by the House was the immi­nent. ADL’s Mid­west Direc­tor A. Abott Rosen described the day:

There was no ques­tion of Jew­ish par­tic­i­pa­tion, there were no sus­pi­cions on the parts of blacks of Jews or other whites on this glo­ri­ous day. We didn’t take a head count of the num­ber of blacks and the num­ber of wSigning_of_Civil_Rights_Acthites present in Sol­diers Field that day, but to my eye, I would sug­gest that the group was almost equally divided.

On July 2, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives voted by more than a two-thirds mar­gin (289–126) to adopt the Senate-passed ver­sion of the Civil Rights Act. That day, Pres­i­dent John­son signed the bill in a nation­ally broad­cast ceremony.

ADL’s National Pro­gram Direc­tor Oscar Cohen later recalled:

The ques­tion arose in ADL cir­cles fre­quently as to why ADL was so totally involved with the strug­gle for equal rights for blacks … First, we claimed, that no minor­ity was safe unless all minori­ties were and prej­u­dice and dis­crim­i­na­tion could not be cured in our soci­ety unless the cure related to all minori­ties … if civil rights laws were passed, such as fair employ­ment and fair hous­ing laws, they would at one stroke elim­i­nate dis­crim­i­na­tion against all groups, includ­ing Jews.

Today, ADL is help­ing to lead a very large coali­tion work­ing to fight dis­crim­i­na­tion, pro­mote equal­ity, and pro­tect the same vot­ing rights for which civil rights work­ers Michael Schw­erner, Andrew Good­man, and James Chaney gave their lives. The League is urg­ing broad sup­port for the Vot­ing Rights Amend­ment Act of 2014 (VRAA), which would cre­ate a new for­mula for pre-clearing vot­ing rights changes.

Fifty years later, ADL com­mem­o­rates the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a para­mount step towards our core value “to secure jus­tice and fair treat­ment for all” and reaf­firms our ded­i­ca­tion to con­tinue the fight in the ongo­ing strug­gle for equality.

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July 2, 2014 0

From the Archives: ADL & the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – Part 2

Civil_rights_leaders_WH_meeting_22_June_1963

Abbie Rowe. White House Pho­tographs. John F. Kennedy Pres­i­den­tial Library and Museum, Boston Civil rights lead­ers pose with Attor­ney Gen­eral Robert F. Kennedy and Vice Pres­i­dent Lyn­don B. John­son at a meet­ing at the White House on 22 June 1963. ADL National Direc­tor Ben­jamin Epstein stands to the right of Rev. Mar­tin Luther King, Jr. and Attor­ney Gen­eral Robert F. Kennedy

In Jan­u­ary 1964, two months after Pres­i­dent Kennedy’s death, ADL released its annual report on Con­gress and civil rights, declar­ing that because of Pres­i­dent Johnson’s “unmatched knowl­edge” of Con­gress, “it is now more pos­si­ble to pass” the Civil Rights Act that Pres­i­dent Kennedy had intro­duced in a tele­vised speech the pre­vi­ous year.

On Jan­u­ary 31 Sen­a­tor Edward M. Kennedy, in his first pub­lic appear­ance in New York since the death of his brother, addressed the 51st annual meet­ing of ADL. Sen­a­tor Kennedy told the audi­ence that the civil rights bill “will pass the House unweak­ened” and that only a fil­i­buster could stop a Sen­ate major­ity “ready and will­ing to vote for it.” Ten days later, the House passed the bill by a vote of 290 to 130 and sent it to the Sen­ate, where it met a filibuster.

Soon after the fil­i­buster began, Sen­a­tors Abra­ham Ribi­coff and Jacob Jav­its received ADL’s 1964 Human Rights Award. They spoke about the bill in their accep­tance speech dur­ing the April 9 cer­e­mony, express­ing con­cern about the “‘so-called white back­lash’ on civil rights in the North” and warn­ing that “pas­sage of the Civil Rights Bill would solve no prob­lems unless ‘the ulti­mate respon­si­bil­ity for civil rights’ is accepted by indi­vid­ual Americans.’”

In late April, ADL National Chair­man Dore Schary announced plans to con­vene a meet­ing of 120 Jew­ish busi­ness, pro­fes­sional, and civil lead­ers from all over the United States “to sound an alarm that time was run­ning out” and “to urge that the Bill then under debate be passed with­out weak­en­ing dele­tions and amend­ments.” Said Schary of the Wash­ing­ton, DC, event:

“This meet­ing in the nation’s cap­i­tal is an all-out effort by a group of lead­ing cit­i­zens to aid their coun­try in what they con­sider to be the most crit­i­cal moment in one of the gravest crises in the past cen­tury. They believe that if the Civil Rights Act is not passed soon, the nation faces dan­ger­ous dis­or­der in the com­ing sum­mer months.”

The group, com­prised of judges, munic­i­pal offi­cials, per­form­ers in the arts, finan­cial and indus­trial lead­ers from 30 states, first con­ferred with Admin­is­tra­tion and Sen­ate spokes­men, and then called or met with their home-state leg­is­la­tors. The group also vis­ited Arling­ton National Ceme­tery to “pay their respects to the mem­ory of Pres­i­dent Kennedy and leave a flo­ral spray at the graveside.”

ADL National Direc­tor Ben­jamin R. Epstein later recalled the meet­ing in Not the Work of a Day, not­ing its suc­cess: “[B]y jiminy, it worked, and it was because it was an intel­li­gent approach to lob­by­ing, a per­fectly legit­i­mate way of achiev­ing a pur­pose in a demo­c­ra­tic soci­ety.” Min­nesota Sen­a­tor Hubert Humphrey wrote to say: “I am for­ever grate­ful … for the ADL’s visit to Wash­ing­ton on behalf of the Civil Rights Bill. The busi­ness lead­ers who gave of their valu­able time … per­formed an indis­pen­si­ble ser­vice. I know from con­ver­sa­tions with many Sen­a­tors that their vis­its were truly effective.”

To be continued…

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