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Protocols of the Elders of Zion

Lawrence Bush
August 25, 2017

Znamya ("Banner"), a Russian publication launched by Pavel Krushevan, a far-right, antisemitic journalist, began publishing the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion in serial form on this date in 1903, according to Mitchell A. Levin's website, This Day in Jewish History. A fabrication about an international Jewish plan to weaken the will of gentiles through cultural influence while taking over the world through financial conspiracy, the Protocols plagiarized heavily from "Dialogues in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu," published in 1864 by the non-­Jewish French satirist Maurice Joly to criticize Emperor Napoleon III. A German antisemite named Hermann Goedsche, writing as "Sir John Retcliffe," converted "Dialogues" into a mythical tale of a Jewish international conspiracy and published the work as a series of novels entitled Biarritz. His works, in turn, were redacted and converted into The Protocols by members of the Russian secret police, the Okhrana, in Paris. The Protocols became "the most notorious and most successful work of modern anti-Semitism," writes the Jewish Virtual Library, becoming "part of a propaganda campaign that accompanied the pogroms of 1905 . . . The edition of 1906 was found among the tsar's collection, even though he had already recognized the work as a forgery." Henry Ford reprinted 500,000 copies in English copies in 1927 and based his collections of columns in the Dearborn Independent, "The International Jew," on the Protocols. The Nazis made use of the Protocols in their propaganda, and they are referenced in the charter of Hamas and are frequently published and distributed within various Muslim countries today.

"The Zionist plan is limitless. After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion,' and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying." --The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS)

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.