Remember: Those Notorious Anti-Semitic "Protocols" are Fiction!


Vaughn Davis Bornet was a member of the United States Civil Liberties Commission for seventeen years. He is the author of "Speaking Up for America" and co-author with E.E. Robinson "Herbert Hoover: President of the United States."

Contemporary Arabic printing of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, exposed as a forgery over a century ago.

Even in this day of obsession with things Islamic and the coming and going of terrorist activities across borders, anti-Semitism continues to be a civil rights problem worth keeping an eye on. Every generation of young scholars needs to be reminded that the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, an item that crops up every so often as an anti-Semitic talking point, remains a fake and a fraud.

We’re talking about a small book from the era of the 1900s that's a totally plagiarized work of fiction. It is not actual evidence of a Jewish worldwide conspiracy to manipulate the global financial market(s). While reputable study does cut it down to size now and then, its nature is such as to bring it to the surface repeatedly.

The Protocols is a written exercise designed to stir up hatred for Jews everywhere. Admittedly, it was written in such a way and with a degree of the appearance of intellectualism that inquiring minds both in at the beginning of the twentieth century and occasionally today sometimes end up playing intellectual games with its subject matter. Still, a Swiss judge, who years ago sat through a fourteen-day trial involving the Protocols, summarized their nature as “ridiculous nonsense.” I wholeheartedly endorse that assessment.

Fortunately, routine American scholarship dug into the Protocols back in 1942 at Columbia University with results that should have settled the matter once and for all. John Shelton Curtiss used exceptionally careful historical methodology in An Appraisal of the Protocols of Zion. In view of the explosive nature of the subject matter it was thought wise to have thirteen noted scholars endorse the book’s harsh findings. (Being of a much older generation, I knew half of that group personally and read books by nearly all of them years ago.)

Curtiss's book is the first place inquisitive minds should turn to learn about the Protocols. He demonstrates with many examples how the authors of the Protocols lifted much of Maurice Joly's The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu, written in 1864. Joly's idea seems to have been somehow to attack the government of Napoleon III without being detected.

According to Curtis, the twenty-five Dialogues and twenty-four Protocols are “very similar;” indeed, they are often “almost identical.” Together, he calls them “the sacred book of anti-Semitic literature.”

Tsarist secret policeman Pyotr Ivanovich Rachkovsky is “credited” with creating (that is, moulding) the infamous Protocols, although a police agent named Matvei Vasilyevich Golovinski, who was at the time working on salary in a Parisian library, helped considerably. Curtis offers information on such matters. Also worth reading is the Encyclopedia Britannica's article on "anti-Semitism" from the 1960s, which was primarily written by Salo Wittmayer Baron, who taught Jewish history at Columbia for nearly three decades in the mid-twentieth century.

Readers interested in playing with ideas will find through Google Protocol-oriented blogs from "intellectuals" claiming that the broad contours of the Protocols are true -- that a small cabal really can manipulate the global financial system to achieve nefarious goals.

And no doubt there are plenty of curious people out there who, seeing the financial tumult of our current era, may well be tempted to succumb to the acute paranoia of the Protocols. Perhaps some unsuspecting dupe will try tossing those old Protocols down the stairs to see if randomization can somehow emerge as planned conspiratorial order when they land.

But the truth is, it can't. Not really. Let's fervently hope we’re at last above all that.

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