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August 6, 2014

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 14, 2014

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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July 11, 2014

“Don’t Do To Palestinians What Hitler Did To You”

On Thursday, July 10, anti-Israel protests took place in Cleveland, Knoxville and Milwaukee. At least 25 rallies are scheduled to take place in many major U.S. cities this weekend.

Here are photos from these demonstrations:

nazi-comparison-israel
Protesters in Cleveland, OH held signs accusing Israel of collective punishment, killing Palestinian children and engaging in “terrorism.” One sign depicted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a Hitler mustache and a swastika juxtaposed with a Star of David. Another accused AIPAC of subverting American interests in favor of Israel.

anti-israel-protest-gaza
knoxville-protest-israel

 

A protest called “Stand Up for Palestine” in Knoxville featured signs that called for an end to aid to the “racist state of Israel” and an accusation that Israel is committing a so-called “genocide” against the Palestinian people.

milwaukee-protest-israel

At a protest organized by the Milwaukee Palestinian Solidarity Coalition, demonstrators accused Israel of “war crimes” and “genocide.” One young woman held a sign that read, “Don’t Do To Palestinians What Hitler Did To You.”

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