Rabbi's Message, Rabbi Alvin Kass, November 2013
Rabbi Alvin Kass
Chief Chaplain of the NYPD
The Poisonous Protocols Persist
If there is a will to believe nonsense, the task of refutation will be a long, difficult, and frustrating one. A glaring case in point is the infamous "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" which endures as a staple of anti-Semitic literature.
Composed around the turn of the century in Paris by Jew-hating Russians, probably agents of the Czarist secret police, the document purports to be the minutes of a council of rabbis who secretly run the world. Regarded as evidence of an international Jewish conspiracy, the "Protocols" have spread across the globe like a virus which roots itself in gullible, troubled, and frightened minds.
Among the evils which the "Protocols" attribute to the Jewish conspirators are wars, depression, and control of the press. The authors also hold the Jews responsible for such "perils" of the modern world as science, technology, and rationality and alleged that Jews have loosed upon mankind the destructive philosophies of Darwinism and Marxism, which have shaken the foundations of traditional religious thinking. In addition, the malevolent Jews perpetrate acts of bloody terrorism against civilians in the subways. Their allies in this vicious plot to take over the world are supposed to be the Freemasons, another long-time target of the paranoid writings, because of their penchant for secrecy and esoteric rituals.
The patent falsity and preposterousness of the "Protocols" charges in no way inhibited its widespread dissemination. From France, the document was brought to Russia where it was used to justify anti- Semitic forays and depredations. After the Bolshevik Revolution, which was blamed on the Jews, Russian emigres carried the "Protocols" to Germany where they became a principal source of Hitler's Mein Kampf and a Nazi reference book throughout the Second World War. Germans who fled to South America following the Allied victory in 1945 made sure that the "Protocols" were also part of their baggage.
Henry Ford, the eminent automobile mogul wrote a series of anti-Semitic articles in the 1920's based on the "Protocols" which have been a pervasive ingredient in the thinking of extremist right-wing groups in America including The Order, the Aryan Nations Church, Posse Comitatus, and the Ku Klux Klan. Today's hate groups no longer treat the Freemasons as a credible threat but have bestowed the role of villain upon the Federal Reserve System, the United Nations, and the secular humanists.
The "Protocols" are also enjoying great popularity in Russia right now thanks to an organization of Russian traditionalists called Pamyat. They believe the Jews rank with rock music and moral relativism as the main obstacles to a renaissance of traditional values in Russia.
Even in Japan, the "Protocols" have found an eager audience which is anxious to blame the rapidly rising yen on secret Jewish manipulators. Japanese bookstores today carry such new titles as "The Jewish Plan for Conquest of the World" and "How to Read the Hidden Meaning of the Jewish Protocol."
Undoubtedly, however, the most receptive audience for the "Protocols" is to be found in the Arab countries which have nurtured implacable hatred for the Jewish people since the creations of the State of Israel. Indeed, according to the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, who have created Project CASAZ (i.e., Combat Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism) the modern Arab demonization of the Jews is more extreme than that of any other nation in modern times except Nazi Germany. The Arabs have had the "Protocols" translated into many languages; and their diplomatic missions around the world are used to circulate the venomous document.
Contemporary history is filled with evidence of the disastrous consequences that can flow from allowing falsehood to go unchallenged. Lies can lead to inhumane and brutal policies, which can lead in turn to murder and genocide.
As we prepare to celebrate Chanukah, the holiday which marks the Maccabees' successful defense of our ancestors against the persecution and oppression of the Syrian Greeks, let us not forget that an essential ingredient of a successful defense is the battle for the mind. Our survival today may depend in no small measure on our success in protecting the minds of decent people from the poison of the "Protocols".