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Part 3 of Series on 'Protocols of Zion'
Reader Asks: "I am no anti-Semite. Why do some parts of 'The Protocols' Ring True?"
Jared Israel Replies: "The clue is in the sources used to create this hoax."
[Posted 25 December 2002]
This is Part 3 of Jared
Israel's series on 'The Protocols of Zion."
Jared Israel Replies
Dear Mr. Bancroft,
Thanks for your note. Good point. Actually we've gotten many letters saying the same thing. So you're not alone.
Why do some parts of "The Protocols" ring true even for people who loathe anti-Semitism? The answer lies in the materials used to cobble together this hoax.
There were at least three sources. Two were anti-Semitic but one was not. Let's look at the non-anti-Semitic source first.
Source #1 - "Dialogues in Hell"
This was a book written by the French democrat, Maurice Joly.
In it, the ghosts of two philosophers, the authoritarian Machiavelli and the reform-minded Montesquieu, meet in hell and have a discussion.
Montesquieu defends democracy, but Machiavelli argues that democratic forms can easily be manipulated. Using language that drips with contempt for the masses, Machiavelli describes how despots can and do combine deceit, demagoguery and ruthless suppression to undermine democracy.
Joly's "Dialogues" was a satire. In it, the Machiavelli character is meant to stand for Napoleon III, who was Emperor of France at the time. Napoleon was a scheming despot, a demagogue and an imperialist and he did indeed undermine democracy. Also, he did not care for criticism. His police threw Maurice Joly in jail.
"Dialogues" was not anti-Semitic. It was not pro-Semitic. It had nothing to do with Jews.
In 1921, journalist Philip Graves wrote a series of articles in the London Times comparing passages from Joly's "Dialogues" to passages from "The Protocols of Zion." Graves concluded that the author of "The Protocols" had plagiarized "Dialogues" in at least 50 places.
To read Philip Graves' London Times articles, go to http://emperor.vwh.net/antisem/graves-tran.htm
Below is an example of what Graves found. [Note: Graves refers to Maurice Joly's book as 'Geneva Dialogues' because it was first published in Geneva, Switzerland.]
"The Unbounded Meanness of the Peoples"
In the quotation from "Dialogues,"
Joly's fictional Machiavelli speaks contemptuously of
For Whom Joly Rings True
Joly's writing might resonate with readers in three categories:
Category one: Those who believe that (leaving aside his contemptuous tone) Machiavelli is correct that ordinary people *can* be seduced by demagogues.
Category two: Those who believe that history consists of the playing out of Machiavelli's view that common people always fall for the worst leaders.
Category three: Those who see in Machiavelli's cynicism and contempt for "the peoples" an outlook typical of ruling classes in 1864 and today.
One might find oneself in one or more of these categories. (I, for example, find myself in categories one and three.)
Getting back to the two texts on "the unbounded meanness of the peoples," posted above, note that they are essentially the same. Therefore if Machiavelli's words ring true for you in "Dialogues," they will probably ring true for you in "The Protocols."
But note that some things have been changed.
In "Dialogues" Machiavelli uses the phrase, "the peoples."
But in "The Protocols," this has been changed to, "the Christian peoples." And Machiavelli has of course been replaced by "Elders of Zion."
These changes are of immense importance. Coming from Machiavelli, the contemptuous words constitute a self-indictment of ruling class attitudes and a warning to ordinary people not to fall for scheming, authoritarian demagogues.
But altered as they have been in "The Protocols," the words create the impression that Jews detest gentiles. This is precisely what people in the West and in the Muslim world have been taught for generations, mainly by religious authorities. It is the accusation anti-Semites make to attack Jews today.
Because, like any racial hatred, anti-Semitism
is rooted in fear. And it is far easier for anti-Semitic
religious zealots and politicians to mobilize ordinary
people for righteous self-defense against a perceived
threat than for brutal and unprovoked aggression against
a harmless minority.
To turn "Dialogues" into a narrative involving Jews, a second source was used...
Source #2 - "Biarritz"
'Biarritz' was a novel written in 1868 by the Prussian Secret Police agent, Hermann Goedsche. Besides being a police provocateur, Goedsche liked to put on airs, so he gave himself a fancy British penname, 'Sir John Retcliff.'
Goedsche was a postal employee. As part of his Secret Police work he forged letters which were used as evidence to frame a democratic leader in 1849. He was caught and had to leave the postal service. So he became an anti-Semitic journalist and novelist.
His novel, 'Biarritz,' has a chapter in which Jewish leaders are depicted as gathering every 100 years in a cemetery to plot the destruction of gentile society. In his book on "The Protocols," Norman Cohn summarized this scene:
I assume "son of the accursed" refers either to the Devil or one of his representatives.
Note that these would-be rulers of the world choose to hold their get-togethers in a cemetery instead of picking a spot with some class, a Club Med maybe, or at least a Holiday Inn.
Goedsche's cemetery chapter was repeatedly published as a pamphlet in Eastern Europe during the late 19th century. It created a kind of genre which was the basis of "The Protocols" - the meeting of elderly Jews plotting world conquest.
Source # 3 - The Czarist Police
The third influence was the Russian Czar's secret police, the Okhrana, which cobbled together "The Protocols." (3) They added the business about liberal reformers being used by The Jews to destroy gentile society. To that end, they plagiarized from Joly's book not only the statements of the authoritarian (Machiavelli) but also the statements of the reformer (Montesquieu). The idea was to accuse "The Jews" of being behind *both* capitalism *and* socialism, i.e., everything threatening to the position of the traditional aristocratic elites in Europe.
Is Anti-Semitism just Silly?
You also commented that the anti-Semitism in "The Protocols" is silly, pathetic and melodramatic. I agree, but when you examine racism as *ideas* doesn't it generally look pretty silly? (At least, it looks silly when the racist ideas are not one's own.)
Once the seed sprouts, the plant can be nurtured to grow and flower. Throughout history bigotry has been used as a tool by religious leaders, demagogues and Empire builders. In modern times, it has been a key weapon of mass political struggle.
For example, from the early 1920s on, first the British and then the Nazi Germans backed the violently anti-Semitic Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al-Husseini (5), in order to maintain a politically dominant position in Palestine. The Nazis also used the Mufti among Muslims in Bosnia and the Soviet Union, where Al-Husseini added Slavophobia to his anti-Jewish appeal. Absent racism, what did British Imperialism or Nazism have to offer these populations?
There is something about us human beings that gives us a weakness for bigotry. Therefore, silly or pathetic although *other people's* racism may appear, it is no joke. Regarding anti-Semitism, various populations have been indoctrinated to fear Jews for up to two thousand years, and so these fears have great potential power even among people whom one might view as far too sophisticated to believe such nonsense - because it isn't merely nonsense, it is *belief*.
Arabs are no more fools than the rest of us. However, millions of Arab citizens stayed glued to their TV sets for 41 episodes - 41! - of a "silly, pathetic" rewrite of the "Protocols of Zion," broadcast as a melodramatic TV miniseries by an Egyptian production company with the nightmare name, 'Dream TV.'
The idea of turning "The Protocols" into a melodramatic mini-series is nothing new. That is essentially what the Okhrana did in the first place, taking the compelling content of Joly's "Dialogues" and framing it with the story from 'Biarritz,' the fictional secret meeting of elderly Jews, supposedly plotting to rule the world.
This mixture of racist lies plus a compelling story is the essence of effective racist propaganda. Really, almost any good story could be made into racist propaganda, especially if said story includes criticism of social injustice. It could even be done with my favorite American novel, "The Grapes of Wrath."
Did your eyebrows go up? Believe me, it could be done.
Perhaps I'll write more on that later.
[Footnotes & Further Reading Follow Appeal]
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Footnotes & Further Reading
1) Joly's "Dialogues
in Hell" can be purchased from the French Website of
amazon.com at amazon.com at http://www.amazon.fr/exec/obidos/ASIN/2911188330/
4) Speaking of racist
indoctrination of the very young, a broadcast of the
Egyptian TV program, 'Muslim Woman', featured an
interview with a three and a half year old girl who
explained what she thinks of Jews ("They are apes
and swine..."). The broadcast was posted by MEMRI,
which monitors and posts translations of the Arab media.
It can be viewed in streaming video at
Criminal Ally," by "Observer" (Immaneul
This Website is