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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 16, 2014 1

Vitriol and Violence in European Anti-Israel Demonstrations

While a hand­ful of vio­lent acts have tar­geted Jews in Europe dur­ing the lat­est round of Israel-Hamas fight­ing, the vit­riol has flowed freely. Unde­ni­ably anti-Semitic expres­sions have been widely reported at anti-Israel demon­stra­tions over the past week.

“You Jews are Beasts.” So read the sign at an anti-Israel demon­stra­tion in Frank­furt, Germany.

Cries of “Death to the Jews!” were heard mul­ti­ple times dur­ing a large-scale demon­stra­tion in Paris. Two groups of dozens of demon­stra­tors broke off from the march to attack two synagogues.

anti-israel hitler rally“We are all Mohamed Merah!” was chanted at a demon­stra­tion in Nice, France, refer­ring to the mur­derer of three chil­dren and a rabbi at a Jew­ish school in Toulouse in March 2012.

“Slaugh­ter the Jews!” and “Khay­bar, Khay­bar,” the anti-Semitic slo­gan evok­ing the mas­sacre of Jews in Ara­bia 1400 years ago, were repeated in Antwerp, Belgium.

“Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas!” was shouted in Gelsenkirchen, Ger­many, less than 10 miles from the Nazi camp at Hol­beck­shof, where hun­dreds of Jews were sent.

Israeli and Nazi flags were equated on signs at a demon­stra­tion in The Hague.

As French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande suc­cinctly and clearly expressed on July 14, “Anti-Semitism can­not be used because there is a con­flict between Israel and Palestine.”

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July 14, 2014 2

Disturbing Online Messages Say #HitlerWasRight

The pop­u­lar­ity of some dis­turb­ing Hitler-related hash­tags on Twit­ter has grown in reac­tion to “Oper­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge,” Israel’s response to the lat­est round of rocket attacks from Hamas and other ter­ror­ist groups in Gaza.HitlerWasRight-hitler-gaza-israel-twitter-hashtag

Many of these responses have included the hash­tags #Hitler­Was­Right and #Hitler­Did­Noth­ing­Wrong, such as:

  • “World needs another Hitler! #Hitler­Was­Right #SavePales­tine #SaveGaza”
  • “#Hitler­Was­Right but he did one thing wrong he let other Jews to live, and they are mas­sacring #Pales­tini­ans today”
  • “#Hitler­Was­Right #Hitler­Did­Noth­ing­Wrong we need a clone of #hitler for #jews #Israel @IsraeliPM”

This online out­pour­ing of anti-Semitism ini­tially appeared in the con­text of the recent series of Nazi and Holo­caust ref­er­ences that flooded social media after Germany’s 7–1 vic­tory over Brazil in the World Cup semi­fi­nals. Some of those wish­ing to protest Israel’s oper­a­tion in Gaza have pig­gy­backed on this phe­nom­e­non, ref­er­enc­ing both Germany’s World Cup vic­tory and Gaza in their #Hitler­Was­Right and #Hitler­Did­Noth­ing­Wrong tweets:

  • “Ger­many won the World Cup– Israel has won mur­der, destruc­tion and dis­as­ter. #iSup­port­Gaza #Hitler­Was­Right? He did what Israel does now”
  • “I am sup­port­ing #Ger­many because #Hitler­Was­Right he killed jews with this rea­son #GAZA #Gaza­Un­der­At­tack #WorldCuptFinal2014Brazil”
  • “2014 FIFA World Cup CHAMPIONS! ***GERMANY*** #Pray­ForGaza #Hitler­Was­Right #Jew­sAre­Hu­manEn­emy #JewsAreRealTerrorist”

Invok­ing Hitler and Nazi Ger­many to demo­nize Israel is not lim­ited to social media. Bla­tantly offen­sive com­par­isons have appeared at a num­ber of anti-Israel protests in the U.S. Below are just a few examples:

  • At a protest orga­nized by the Mil­wau­kee Pales­tin­ian Sol­i­dar­ity Coali­tion, one young woman held a sign that read, “Don’t Do To Pales­tini­ans What Hitler Did To You.”
  • At a pro­test­ in Cleve­land, one sign depicted Israeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Netanyahu with a Hitler mus­tache and a Nazi flag jux­ta­posed with an Israeli flag.
  • At a rally in front of the Israeli Con­sulate in Chicago, among the many signs were sev­eral that accused Israel of per­pe­trat­ing a Holo­caust: “End the Pales­tine Holo­caust,” “It was Wrong in Auschwitz, it is Wrong in Gaza!” and “Gaza Concentration/Starvation Camp, Designed, Man­u­fac­tured, Fre­quently Bombed and Man­aged By Israel.”    

A recent ADL poll of anti-Semitic atti­tudes in 100 coun­tries found that knowl­edge about the Holo­caust varies widely depend­ing on the coun­try. In the sur­vey, 54 per­cent of those polled glob­ally responded affir­ma­tively when asked if they had heard about the Holo­caust in Europe dur­ing World War II. Another 35 per­cent of those polled indi­cated they had no knowl­edge of the Holo­caust, and 10 per­cent responded “don’t know.”

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