The “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a short book concocted by the czarist police and presented as minutes of a secret meeting where Jews plotted world domination, is the biggest falsehood that refuses to die. It’s the only book that has ever had the perverse distinction of being both globally influential and, at the same time, a forgery.
The “Protocols” are now prominently displayed not only in the Middle East, but also on the Western and Christian bookshelf. Books based on the “Protocols” are now available even in countries with hardly any Jews such as Japan. A Chinese bestseller entitled “The Currency War” and based on the “Protocols,” describes how Jews are planning to control the world by manipulating the financial system. The book is reportedly read in the highest government circles.
Recently, an Iranian stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair presented a copy of the “Protocols” published in English by the Islamic Republic of Iran in plain view. Thousands of Jews have been killed in Europe because of this infamous document. Hitler used it as a manual in his war to exterminate the Jews and Palestinian suicide bombers have been found with the “Protocols” in their pockets.
Renowned historian Bernard Lewis wrote that the “Protocols” were brought into the Islamic world by Christian authors who translated the book into Arabic. That shameful operation is still battering the Middle East. The “Protocols” rarely attracts Western attention, as we like to think that it is just a bad joke. But now some Christian sects and bishops are fomenting hatred against the Jews using traditional ant-Semitism - much of it theological.
Indeed, many bishops are quoting again from the “Protocols.” In an interview with George Saliba, Bishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Lebanon, aired on Al-Dunya TV on July 24, 2011, he declared: “The source that finances and incites all these international organizations, in the East and West, and especially in the Arab world, they are led by a single, evil organization, known as Zionism.”
“It is behind all these movements, all these civil wars, and all these evils, using the people of the West – whether in the US, in Europe, or their followers,” he said.
Jews demonized againThe recent boom of anti-Semitic conspiracies, especially in the "new Egypt," is linked with the revival of the “Protocols”, like the modern twist of accusing Israel of distributing drug-laced chewing gum and candy in the aims of killing children and sexually corrupting Arab women, or the lingerie soaked with invisible ink for coded Jewish messages.
The “Protocols” is being published with new editions in Arabic almost every year, and in Persian and Turkish as well. Listening to “moderate” Muslim leaders (never mind the Ayatollahs) and looking at the vile, racist cartoons in the strictly controlled Arab media (even in Egypt and Jordan, formally at peace with Israel), one sees a pathological hatred that may erupt in unconventional attacks.
Representing “Western corruption,” Jews are demonized again as “vermin,” “a cancer,” intentional spreaders of AIDS through blood transfusion and prostitution. The conspiracy resembles that of Josef Stalin, who accused six Jewish doctors of plotting to poison the Soviet leader. Even the West Dunbartonshire Council, the Scottish council at the centre of a row over its boycott of Israeli books, admitted it had bought a copy of the “Protocols” in January.
The “Protocols” are now on prominent display at the Malaysian capital’s International Airport, the Hamas charter includes citations of the “Protocols,” and the book can be found in bookstalls on Cairo’s streets. An Arabic translation of the “Protocols” can be also found on the website of the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Information.
Last year, renowned leftist Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo declared that he had “re-evaluated” the “Protocols” and now felt they largely reflect the truth about the Jews. The Jewish Community Confederation of Venezuela has just lodged a protest with the country’s attorney general, denouncing the promotion of the “Protocols” by a state-owned media outlet.
‘The Jews are God killers’A few months ago, The Australian revealed that the biggest mosque in central Sydney was selling copies of the inflammatory anti-Semitic book and the “Protocols” is prominently displayed on Edgware Road in the heart of London.
The constant use of the “Protocols” in the Arab media, especially in soap operas during the Ramadan, creates an atmosphere where any charge against the Jews is believed. It does not matter whether the “Protocols” are fact or fiction: their “predictions” have largely come true.
Last December the patriarch of the Antioch Church, Gregory III Laham, declared that there was a “Zionist conspiracy” behind al-Qaeda’s attack on a Catholic church in Baghdad, where 58 innocent parishioners were slaughtered. Richard Williamson, one of four bishops ordained by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and later rehabilitated by Pope Benedict XVI, said that the “Protocols” are “authentic” and that the Jews are fighting for world domination “to prepare the Anti-Christ’s throne in Jerusalem.”
Last year, Giacomo Babini, the emeritus bishop of Grosseto, said that he believed a “Zionist attack” was behind the criticism against the Church on sexual abuse. Babini was quoted by Catholic website Pontifex as saying: “They do not want the Church, they are its natural enemies. Deep down, historically speaking, the Jews are God killers.” The Bishops’ Conference later rushed to issue a statement quoting Babini denying he had ever given the interview.
But most tragic is that an Iranian Shihab-3 missile fired from Tehran to Tel Aviv would take 12 minutes to hit the Jews. The greatest forgery and blood libel is again fomenting a Jewish catastrophe, now with the shameful complicity of some Christian bishops. The “Protocols” was first published in Russia in 1905 by a Christian priest, Sergius Nilus. One century later the word “Jew” has become again an accepted insult in the global square.
Giulio Meotti, a journalist with Il Foglio, is the author of the book A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel's Victims of Terrorism