The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (Russian: "Протоколы сионских мудрецов," or "Сионские протоколы", see also other titles) is an antisemitic literary forgery that purports to describe a Jewish plot to achieve world domination.
Scholars generally agree that the Okhrana, the secret police of the Russian Empire, fabricated the text in the late 1890s or early 1900s. Among the most notable early refutations of the Protocols as a forgery were a series of articles printed in The Times of London in 1921. This series revealed that much of the material in the Protocols was plagiarized from earlier political satire that did not have an antisemitic theme. Since 1903, when the Protocols appeared in print, its earliest publishers have offered vague and often contradictory testimony detailing how they obtained their copy of the rumored original manuscript.
The Protocols are widely considered to be the beginning of contemporary conspiracy theory literature, and take the form of an instruction manual to a new member of the "elders," describing how they will run the world through control of the media and finance, replacing the traditional social order with one based on mass manipulation.
The text was popularized by those opposed to the Russian revolutionary movement, and was disseminated further after the Revolution of 1905, becoming known worldwide after the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was widely circulated in the West in 1920 and thereafter. The Great Depression and the rise of Nazism were important developments in the history of the Protocols, and the hoax continued to be published and circulated even after it was known to be a forgery.
Continued usage of the Protocols as an antisemitic propaganda tool substantially diminished in Europe with the defeat of the Nazis in World War II. It is still frequently quoted and reprinted by antisemites, and is sometimes used as evidence of an alleged Jewish cabal, especially in the Middle East where it still circulates.
The anti-Semitism that engendered the document is rooted in the failure of the three Abrahamic faiths to resolve the cycles of antagonism and mutual recrimination that have plagued their history.
The text is alternatively known in English as Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion, Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Elders of Zion, Protocols of the Meetings of the Zionist Men of Wisdom, Protocols of the Sages of Zion, Protocols of Zion, The Jewish Peril, The Protocols and World Revolution, and Praemonitus Praemunitus. The variation in title derives partly from the fact that the book has two titles in Russian - "Сионские протоколы" (Sionskiye protokoly, lit. "Protocols of Zion") and "Протоколы сионских мудрецов" (Protokoly sionskih mudretsov, lit. "Protocols of the Sages of Zion") - and partly due to the different translations of the Russian word мудрец (mudrets, a wise man or a sage).
The text is pamphlet size, consisting of no more than two or three dozen paragraphs, but becomes a book by expansion with prefaces, introductions, addenda, etc.
The first American English language edition was published in Boston in 1920 by Small, Maynard & Company under the title of The Protocols and World Revolution Including a Translation and Analysis of the "Protocols of the Meetings of the Zionist Men of Wisdom". Only pages 11 through 73 contain the so-called Protocols. The word "Zion" in this edition has not been used, but rather, the word "Zionist." This contrasts to a similar practice of the previous Russian editions. For example, in 1905 Sergei Nilus's book on the imminent arrival of the anti-Christ The Big within the Small, the Protocols constituted the final twelfth chapter.
Much of the text in the Protocols appears to be directly plagiarized from an 1864 pamphlet, Dialogue aux enfers entre Machiavel et Montesquieu (Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu), written by the French satirist Maurice Joly. Joly's work attacks the political ambitions of Napoleon III using the device of diabolical plotters in Hell as stand-ins for Napoleon's views. Joly himself appears to have borrowed material from a popular novel by Eugène Sue, The Mysteries of the People, in which the plotters were Jesuits. Jews do not appear in either work. Since it was illegal to criticize the monarchy, Joly had the pamphlet printed in Belgium, then tried to smuggle it back into France. Napoleon III’s secret police confiscated as many copies as they could, and it was banned. After it was traced to Joly, he was tried on April 25, 1865, and sentenced to 15 months in prison. Joly committed suicide in disgrace in 1878. Reportedly, one of the few copies to survive found its way to Switzerland, where it was picked up by the Okhranka, the Russian secret police, and served as the basis for The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Hermann Goedsche's 1868 novel, Biarritz, contributed another idea that may have inspired the scribe behind the Protocols. Goedsche is said to have plagiarized Maurice Joly's book The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu and made an addition; the chapter "At the Jewish Cemetery in Prague." In that chapter, Goedsche wrote about a nocturnal meeting between members of a mysterious rabbinical cabal, describing how at midnight, the Devil appears before those who have gathered on behalf of the Twelve Tribes of Israel to plan a "Jewish conspiracy." His depiction is also similar to the scene in Alexandre Dumas's Joseph Balsamo, where Cagliostro and company plot the affair of the diamond necklace. Biarritz appeared at about the same time as The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu.  Goedsche, who opposed the events of 1848, lost his job in the Prussian postal service after forging evidence to implicate democratic leader Benedict Waldeck of conspiring against the king. Following his dismissal, Goedsche began a career as a monarchism columnist, while also producing literary work under the penname Sir John Retcliffe. Goedsche was allegedly a spy for the Prussian Secret Police.
The 24 "Protocols" are posited as instructions to a new Elder, outlining how the group will control the world. The Elders want to trick all "gentile nations," or goyim, into doing their will. Their preferred methods include:
|2, 9, 12||The propagation of ideas of all possible complexions with the task of undermining established forms of order, including Darwinism, Marxism, Nietzsche-ism, Liberalism, Socialism, Communism, Anarchism, and Utopianism|
|11||Curtailment of civil liberties with the excuse of defeating the enemies of peace|
|11, 12, 17||Creating the impression of the existence of freedom of press, freedom of speech, democracy and human rights, all of which are subsequently undermined and become mere illusions or deceptive smokescreens behind which actual oppression lies|
|14, 17||The destruction of Christianity and other religions, followed by a transitional stage of atheism, followed finally with the hegemony of Judaism|
|21||Progressive taxation on property|
|22||Undermining financial systems by foreign loans|
|23||Unleashing forces of violence under the mask of principles of freedom, only to have the 'King of the Jews' demolish those very forces to make him appear a savior|
Control of the media and finance would replace the traditional sources of social order with one based on mass manipulation and state-engineered propaganda, where powerful elites and institutions conspire to conceal unpalatable truths from the masses. In this respects, the Protocols draw on long-standing criticisms of modernity, radicalism and capitalism, but present them as part of an orchestrated plot, rather than as a product of impersonal historical processes.
The text assumes that the reader already believes that the Freemasons are a secret society with a hidden political agenda, and the Protocols purport to demonstrate that this hidden agenda is itself controlled or guided by the 'Elders', a sort of conspiracy theory within a conspiracy. In the Protocols, Freemasons and "liberal thinkers" are shown to be mere tools that the Elders will eventually replace with a Jewish theocracy. The Protocols describe a forthcoming "kingdom," going into great detail about how it will be run. Yet even in this kingdom the Elders will avoid direct political control, preferring to assert themselves via usury and manipulation of money. Even the "King of the Jews" himself will be nothing more than a figurehead.
The Protocols 1-19 closely follow the order of the The Dialogues in Hell… 1-17, with a few exceptions. In some places, the plagiarism is incontrovertible:
The mention of Vishnu, the lack of Talmudic citations, and textual references to the "King of the Jews," a semi-messianic idea that carries strong connotations of Jesus of Nazareth are all improbable in Jewish religious literature. It is likely that the author was not particularly well-versed in Jewish culture. Such terms have been avoided in the Judaic tradition since the schism between Judaism and Christianity.
Philip Graves' article in The Times demonstrated the extent of the similarity between the two texts, making it clear that the Protocols were a hoax.
The idea that the Freemasons formed part of an anti-Christian conspiracy, either separate from or in association with Jews, long predated the spreading of The Protocols. In the late eighteenth-early nineteenth centuries, Freemasonry was popular (as were many fraternal organizations), and its most significant opponent, the Roman Catholic Church, opposed its open support for freedom of religion and Enlightenment ideals.
After some interaction with masons, a Scottish natural philosopher John Robison became an enthusiastic conspiracy theorist and expanded on his impressions in his 1797 pamphlet Proofs of a Conspiracy against all the Religions and Governments of Europe, carried on in the secret meetings of Freemasons, Illuminati and Reading Societies. He did not take into account that French masons were members of several mutually-hostile factions and that many of them were executed by their rivals. Robison's work does not mention Jews.
Jesuit priest Abbé Barruél had some contact with Robison, but extended the notion to include Jews. He accused the Jews of founding the Bavarian Illuminati.
According to Jewish scholar, Daniel Pipes,
"The great importance of the Protocols lies in its permitting antisemites to reach beyond their traditional circles and find a large international audience, a process that continues to this day. The forgery poisoned public life wherever it appeared; it was "self-generating; a blueprint that migrated from one conspiracy to another." The book's vagueness — almost no names, dates, or issues are specified — has been one key to this wide-ranging success. The purportedly Jewish authorship also helps to make the book more convincing. Its embrace of contradiction — that to advance, Jews use all tools available, including capitalism and communism, philo-Semitism and antisemitism, democracy and tyranny — made it possible for the Protocols to reach out to all: rich and poor, Right and Left, Christian and Muslim, American and Japanese."
Pipes notes that the Protocols emphasize recurring themes of conspiratorial antisemitism: "Jews always scheme"; "Jews are everywhere"; "Jews are behind every institution"; "Jews obey a central authority, the shadowy 'Elders'"; "Jews are close to success."
The Protocols are widely considered influential in the development of other conspiracy theories, and reappear repeatedly in contemporary conspiracy literature, such as Jim Marrs's Rule by Secrecy. Some recent editions proclaim that the "Jews" depicted in the Protocols are a cover identity for other conspirators such as the Illuminati, Freemasons, the Priory of Sion, or even, in the opinion of David Icke, "extra-dimensional entities." Other groups that believe in their authenticity have claimed that the book does not depict the way that Jews think and act, but only those belonging to an alleged secret elite group of Zionists, and that the "Elders" were not Rabbis, but secular Zionist leaders.
The chapter "In the Jewish Cemetery in Prague" from Goedsche's Biarritz, with its strong anti-semitic theme containing the alleged rabbinical plot against the European civilization, was translated into Russian as a separate pamphlet in 1872. Okhranka, the tsarist secret police, found these works useful in their effort to discredit liberal reformers and revolutionaries who were rapidly gaining popular support, especially among oppressed minorities such as Russian Jews.
Recent research by Russian historian Mikhail Lepekhine traced the Protocols to Matvei Golovinski, agent provocateur of Okhranka, as part of a scheme to persuade Tsar Nicholas II that the modernization of Russia was really a Jewish plot to control the world. Lepekhine discovered Golovinski's authorship in Russia's long-closed archives and published his findings in November 1999 in the French newsweekly L'Express. Golovinski had been linked to the work before; the German writer Konrad Heiden identified him as an author of the Protocols in 1944. Golovinski worked together with Charles Joly (son of Maurice Joly) at Le Figaro in Paris, writing articles at the direction of Pyotr Rachkovsky, Chief of the Russian secret service. During the Dreyfus Affair in France, when polarization of European attitudes towards the Jews was at its height, the publication began private circulation as The Protocols in 1897. After the 1917 revolution, Golovinski became a Bolshevik propagandist.
According to Will Eisner, "From the Tsar's French files, Lepekhine unearthed the evidence of Golovinski's role."
A Ukrainian scholar, Vadim Skuratovsky, offers extensive literary, historical and linguistic analysis of the original text of the Protocols, tracing the influences of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's prose (in particular, The Grand Inquisitor and The Possessed) on Golovinski's writings, including the Protocols.
In his book The Non-Existent Manuscript. A Study of the Protocols of the Sages of Zion, Italian researcher Cesare G. De Michelis writes that the hypothesis of Golovinski's authorship was based on a statement by Princess Catherine Radziwill. She claimed that she had seen a manuscript of the protocols written by Golovinsky, Rachkovsky and Manusevich in 1905, but in 1905 Golovinsky and Rachkovsky had already left Paris and moved to Saint Petersburg. Princess Radziwill was known to be an unreliable source.
The Protocols were first mentioned in the Russian press on April 1902, in the Saint Petersburg newspaper, Novoye Vremya (Новое Время - The New Times). The article was written by a famous conservative publicist, Mikhail Menshikov, as a part of his regular series "Letters to Neighbors" ("Письма к ближним") and was entitled "Plots against Humanity." The author described his meeting with a lady (now known to be Yuliana Glinka) who, after telling him about her mystical revelations, implored him to get familiar with the documents later known as the Protocols; but after reading some excerpts Menshikov became quite skeptical about their origin and did not publish them.Cite error: Invalid
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The Protocols are claimed to have been published at the earliest, in serialized form, from August 28 to September 7 (O.S.), in 1903, in Znamya (Знамя - The Banner), a Saint Petersburg daily newspaper, under Pavel Krushevan. However, no known library in the United States or Great Britain appears to have a copy of this newspaper. Krushevan had initiated the Kishinev pogrom four months earlier.
The Protocols enjoyed another wave of popularity in Russia after 1905, when progressive political elements in Russia succeeded in creating a constitution and a parliament, the Duma. The reactionary Union of the Russian People, known as the Black Hundreds, together with the Okhranka, the Tsarist secret police, blamed this liberalization on the "International Jewish conspiracy," and began a program of disseminating the Protocols as propaganda to support the wave of pogroms that swept Russia in 1903–1906 and as a tool to deflect attention from social activism. It also was of interest to Tsar Nicholas II, who was fearful of modernization and protective of his monarchy, and he presented the growing revolutionary movement as part of a powerful world conspiracy, blaming the Jews for Russia's problems.
In 1905, self-proclaimed mystic priest Sergei Nilus gained fame by publishing the full text of the Protocols in Chapter XII, the twelfth and final chapter (pages 305-417), of the second edition (some say third) of his book, Velikoe v malom i antikhrist] (The Great within the Small: The Coming of the Anti-Christ and the Rule of Satan on Earth). He claimed it was the work of the First Zionist Congress, held eight years earlier in Basel, Switzerland. When it was pointed out that the First Zionist Congress had been open to the public and was attended by many non-Jews, Nilus changed his story, saying the Protocols were the work of the 1902–1903 meetings of the Elders, but contradicting his own prior statement that he had received his copy in 1901:
In 1901, I succeeded through an acquaintance of mine (the late Court Marshal Alexei Nikolayevich Sukotin of Chernigov) in getting a manuscript that exposed with unusual perfection and clarity the course and development of the secret Jewish Freemasonic conspiracy, which would bring this wicked world to its inevitable end. The person who gave me this manuscript guaranteed it to be a faithful translation of the original documents that were stolen by a woman from one of the highest and most influential leaders of the Freemasons at a secret meeting somewhere in France—the beloved nest of Freemasonic conspiracy.
Nilus also had a personal motivation for publishing them. At the time he was trying to become the royal couple's confessor and brought his book to the Tsar's attention with the help of the Grand Duchess Elizaveta Fyodorovna. This was part of a faction fight against Papus and Nizier Anthelme Philippe at the Tsarist court. (Indeed, Papus was accused in 1920 of having forged the Protocols to discredit Philippe.)
A subsequent secret investigation ordered by the newly appointed chairman of the Council of Ministers Pyotr Stolypin came to conclusion that the Protocols first appeared in Paris in antisemitic circles around 1897–1898. When Nicholas II learned of the results of this investigation, he requested: "The Protocols should be confiscated, a good cause cannot be defended by dirty means." Despite the order, or because of the "good cause," numerous reprints proliferated.
After the Russian Revolution, factions connected to the White movement used the Protocols to perpetrate hatred and violence against the Jews. Since Karl Marx and other prominent Marxists were Jewish, some opponents of the Bolshevik movement considered it a Jewish conspiracy for world domination. Some top Bolsheviks, particularly Leon Trotsky, were Jews, sparking a worldwide interest in the Protocols.
The first and "by far the most important" German translation was by Gottfried Zur Beck, (pseudonym for Ludwig Müller von Hausen). It appeared in January 1920 as a part of a larger antisemitic tract dated 1919. After The Times of London discussed the book respectfully in May 1920 it became a bestseller. "The Hohenzollern family helped defray the publication costs, and Kaiser Wilhelm II had portions of the book read out aloud to dinner guests".
On May 8, 1920, an article in The Times followed the German translation, appealing for an inquiry into what it called "uncanny note of prophecy."
The first English language edition of the Protocols was published in 1920 in London. The full title was The Jewish Peril. Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion; the translator has been subsequently discovered to be George Shanks.
The most widespread English translation of the Protocols is credited to a British correspondent for The Morning Post in Russia, Victor E. Marsden, who was imprisoned by the Bolsheviks in the Peter and Paul Fortress, subsequently released, and returned to England. Marsden, prior to his death in October 1920, had allegedly translated Chapter XII, the last chapter, of Nilus's 1905 book on the coming of the Anti-Christ, a copy of which was available in the British Museum. However, his name does not appear in the first British imprint, issued by Eyre & Spottiswoode Ltd., nor in the second, issued by The Britons. It first appears in the edition issued one or two years later, in the imprint issued by the Britons Publishing Society.
In a single year 1920, five editions sold out in England. That same year in the United States, Henry Ford sponsored the printing of 500,000 copies, and from 1920 to 1922 published a series of antisemitic articles, entitled the The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem, in The Dearborn Independent, a newspaper he owned. In 1921 Ford cited it as evidence of a Jewish threat: "The only statement I care to make about the Protocols is that they fit in with what is going on. They are sixteen years old, and they have fitted the world situation up to this time." In 1927, however, Ford retracted his publication and apologized, claiming his assistants duped him. However, he later expressed his admiration for Nazi Germany.
In 1934, an anonymous editor expanded the compilation with "Text and Commentary" (pages 136-141). The production of this uncredited compilation was a 300-page book, an inauthentic expanded edition of the twelfth chapter of Nilus' 1905 book on the coming of the anti-Christ. It consists of substantial liftings of excerpts of articles from Ford's anti-semitic periodical The Dearborn Independent. This 1934 text circulates most widely in the English-speaking world, as well as on the Internet.
The "Text and Commentary" concludes with a comment on Chaim Weizmann's October 6, 1920 remark at a banquet: "A beneficent protection which God has instituted in the life of the Jew is that He has dispersed him all over the world." Marsden, who had been dead by then, is credited with the following assertion:
"It proves that the Learned Elders exist. It proves that Dr. Weizmann knows all about them. It proves that the desire for a "National Home" in Palestine is only camouflage and an infinitesimal part of the Jew's real object. It proves that the Jews of the world have no intention of settling in Palestine or any separate country, and that their annual prayer that they may all meet "Next Year in Jerusalem" is merely a piece of their characteristic make-believe. It also demonstrates that the Jews are now a world menace, and that the Aryan races will have to domicile them permanently out of Europe."
In 1920, the history of the concepts found in the Protocols was traced back to the works of Goedsche and Joly by Lucien Wolf; was published in London in August 1921; and was similarly exposed in the series of articles in The Times by its Constantinople reporter, Philip Graves, who took his information from Wolf's work.
According to writer Peter Grose, Allen Dulles, who was in Constantinople developing relationships in post-Ottoman political structures, discovered 'the source' of the documentation ultimately provided to The Times. Grose writes that The Times extended a loan to the source, a Russian émigré who refused to be identified, with the understanding the loan would not be repaid. Colin Holmes, a lecturer in economic history of Sheffield University, identified the émigré as Michael Raslovleff, a self-confessed antisemite, who gave the information to Graves so as not to "give a weapon of any kind to the Jews, whose friend I have never been."
In the first article of Graves' series, entitled "A Literary Forgery," the editors of The Times wrote, "our Constantinople Correspondent presents for the first time conclusive proof that the document is in the main a clumsy plagiarism. He has forwarded us a copy of the French book from which the plagiarism is made." The New York Times reprinted the articles on September 4, 1921. In the same year, an entire book documenting the hoax was published in the United States by Herman Bernstein. Despite this widespread and extensive debunking, the Protocols continued to be regarded as important factual evidence by antisemites.
In the 1920s, the Protocols occasionally appeared in the Arab polemics linking Zionism and Bolshevism. The first Arabic translations were made from the French by Arab Christians. The first translation was published in Raqib Sahyun, a periodical of the Roman Catholic community of Jerusalem, in 1926. Another translation made by an Arab Christian appeared in Cairo in 1927 or 1928, this time as a book. The first translation by an Arab Muslim was also published in Cairo, but only in 1951.
In 1934, Dr. A. Zander, a Swiss follower of Nazism, published a series of articles accepting the Protocols as fact. He was sued in what has come to be known as the Berne Trial. The trial began in the Cantonal Court of Bern, Switzerland on October 29, 1934. The plaintiffs were Dr. J. Dreyfus-Brodsky, Dr. Marcus Cohen and Dr. Marcus Ehrenpreis. On May 19, 1935 the court, after full investigation, declared the Protocols to be forgeries, plagiarisms, and obscene literature. Judge Walter Meyer, a Christian who had not heard of the Protocols earlier, said in conclusion:
"I hope, the time will come when nobody will be able to understand how in 1935 nearly a dozen sane and responsible men were able for two weeks to mock the intellect of the Bern court discussing the authenticity of the so-called Protocols, the very Protocols that, harmful as they have been and will be, are nothing but laughable nonsense".
A Russian emigre, anti-Bolshevik and anti-Fascist Vladimir Burtsev, who exposed numerous Okhranka agents provocateurs in the early 1900s, served as a witness at the Berne Trial. In 1938 in Paris he published a book, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion: A Proved Forgery, based on his testimony.
On November 1, 1937, the sued party of the trial applied to the Swiss Court of Appeal asking to reverse the verdict, claiming that the law, while prohibiting "obscene literature," means pornography and is inapplicable to the "Protocols." The three judges focused on purely procedural aspects of the case and decided to reverse the verdict. However, the presiding judge stated clearly that the forgery of the Protocols is not questionable and expressed regret that the law does not provide enough protection for Jews from literature of that kind. The court put the costs of both trials upon the sued party. This decision gave grounds for later allegations that the appeal court "confirmed the authenticity of the Protocols," a conclusion which is not supported by the facts.
In an August 1934 case in Grahamstown, South Africa, the court imposed fines totalling £1,775 (about $8,875 at the time or about $130,000 in 2005 dollars) on three men for disseminating a version of the Protocols.
The Protocols also became a part of the Nazi propaganda effort to justify persecution of the Jews. It was made required reading for German students. In The Holocaust: The Destruction of European Jewry 1933-1945, Nora Levin states that "Hitler used the Protocols as a manual in his war to exterminate the Jews":
Despite conclusive proof that the Protocols were a gross forgery, they had sensational popularity and large sales in the 1920s and 1930s. They were translated into every language of Europe and sold widely in Arab lands, the United States, and England. But it was in Germany after World War I that they had their greatest success. There they were used to explain all of the disasters that had befallen the country: the defeat in the war, the hunger, the destructive inflation.
Hitler refers to the Protocols in Mein Kampf:
… To what extent the whole existence of this people is based on a continuous lie is shown incomparably by the Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion, so infinitely hated by the Jews. They are based on a forgery, the Frankfurter Zeitung moans and screams once every week: the best proof that they are authentic. […] the important thing is that with positively terrifying certainty they reveal the nature and activity of the Jewish people and expose their inner contexts as well as their ultimate final aims.
Hitler endorsed it in his speeches from August 1921 on, and it was studied in German classrooms after Nazis came to power. At the height of World War II, the Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels proclaimed: "The Zionist Protocols are as up-to-date today as they were the day they were first published." In Norman Cohn's words, it served as the Nazis' "warrant for genocide."
While there is continued popularity of The Protocols in nations from South America to Asia, since the defeat of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy in the Second World War governments or political leaders in most parts of the world have generally avoided claims that The Protocols represent factual evidence of a real Jewish conspiracy. The exception to this is the Middle East, where a large number of Arab and Muslim regimes and leaders have endorsed them as authentic.
Past endorsements of The Protocols from Presidents Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat of Egypt, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, and Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi of Libya, among other political and intellectual leaders of the Arab world, are echoed by twenry-first century endorsements from the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Ekrima Sa'id Sabri and Hamas to the education ministry of Saudi Arabia.
As Arab-Israeli conflict heated up in the years following its creation in 1947, many Arab governments funded new printings of the Protocols, and taught them in their schools as historical fact. They have been accepted as such by many Islamist organizations, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Reportedly, Arabic editions issued in the Middle East were found on sale as far away as London. There are at least nine different Arabic translations of the Protocols and more editions than in any other language except German. The Protocols also figure prominently in the anti-semitic propaganda distrubted internationally by the Arab countries and have spread to other Muslim countries, such as Pakistan, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
The Protocols is a best-seller in Syria and, together with other antisemitic materials published there, is distributed throughout the Arab world. In 1997, the two-volume eighth edition of the Protocols, translated and edited by 'Ajaj Nuwayhid, was published by Mustafa Tlass's publishing house and exhibited and sold at the Damascus International Book Fair (IBF) and at the Cairo IBF. At the 2005 Cairo IBF a stand of the Syrian publisher displayed a new edition of the Protocols authorized by the Syrian Ministry of Information. The 2005 Syrian edition includes an "historical and contemporary investigative study" that repeats the blood libel among other antisemitic accusations, and argues that the Torah and Talmud encourage Jews "to commit treason and to conspire, dominate, be arrogant and exploit other countries." ITC CSS In Syria government-controlled television channels occasionally broadcast mini-series concerning the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, along with several other anti-semitic themes.
During the presidency of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt was the main source of internationally distributed antisemitic propaganda. In 1960, the Protocols were featured in an artcile published by Salah Dasuqi, military governor of Cairo, in al-Majallaaa, the official cultural journal. In 1965, the Egyptian government released an English-language pamphlet titled Israel, the Enemy of Africa and distrubted it throughout the English-speaking countries of Africa. The pamphlet used the Protocols and The International Jew as its sources and concluded that all the Jews were cheats, thieves, and murdererers.
In a foreword to a translation of Shimon Peres' book The New Middle East, the Egyptian state-owned publisher al-Ahram editorialized in 1995:
When The Protocols of the Elders of Zion were discovered, some 200 years ago, and translated in various languages, including Arabic, the World Zionist Organization attempted to deny the existence of the plot, and claimed forgery. The Zionists even endeavoured to purchase all the existing copies, in order to prevent their circulation. But today, Shimon Peres proves unequivocally that the Protocols are authentic, and that they tell the truth.
An article in the Egyptian state-owned newspaper al-Akhbar on February 3, 2002 stated:
All the evils that currently affect the world are the doings of Zionism. This is not surprising, because the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which were established by their wise men more than a century ago, are proceeding according to a meticulous and precise plan and time schedule, and they are proof that even though they are a minority, their goal is to rule the world and the entire human race."
In October 2002, a private Egyptian television company Dream TV produced a 41-part "historical drama" A Knight Without a Horse (Fars Bela Gewad), largely based on the Protocols, which ran on 17 Arabic-language satellite television channels, including government-owned Egypt Television (ETV), for a month, causing concerns in the West. Egypt's Information Minister Safwat El-Sherif announced that the series "contains no antisemitic material".
On November 17, 2003, an Egyptian weekly al-Usbu‘ reported that the manuscript museum at the Alexandria Library, displayed the first Arabic translation of the Protocols at the section of the holy books of Judaism, next to a Torah scroll. The museum's director Dr. Yousef Ziedan was quoted as saying in an interview:
"…it has become one of the sacred [texts] of the Jews, next to their first constitution, their religious law … more important to the Zionist Jews of the world than the Torah, because they conduct Zionist life according to it …. It is only natural to place the book in the framework of an exhibit of Torah."
It also quoted him as saying that no more than one million Jews were killed by the Nazis, but Zionists manipulated the "knowledge that has reached the world". See also:- Holocaust denial.
Dr. Yousef Ziedan strongly denies these quotes, accusing al-Usbu‘ of attributing "fabricated, groundless lies" to him and stating that "the Protocols is a racist, silly, fabricated book":
"The story began with an article in an Egyptian newspaper, al-Usbu,‘' two weeks ago (on November 17, 2003), which alleged quoting from me utterly senseless statements intertwining facts with fancies. A month before, a journalist from the aforementioned newspaper interviewed me concerning the recent refurbishment of the manuscript and rare book museum. I handed her a written statement, as was the case with other journalists who covered the same news. Although, she concluded her article with my exact words, she started it with fabricated, groundless lies. She falsely reported me saying that I placed an edition of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion at the center of the museum alongside the Jewish Torah and divine books. Moreover, she claimed that I told her that this book is more significant then the Torah…. On my part, I would like to maintain to the visitors of ziedan.com that the Protocols is a racist, silly, fabricated book. Perhaps, I should consider more thoroughly the Jewish issue on the academic level and furnish my vision of the interaction of religions. As civilized people, we totally renounce racism and call for tolerance and constructive interaction between people."
After the publication, director of the Library Dr. Ismail Serageldin issued a statement:
"Preliminary investigation determined that the book was briefly displayed in a showcase devoted to rotating samples of curiosities and unusual items in our collection. … The book is a well-known 19th century fabrication to foment anti-Jewish feelings. The book was promptly withdrawn from public display, but its very inclusion showed bad judgment and insensitivity…."
The first Iranian edition of the Protocols was issued during the summer of 1978 before the Iranian Revolution after which the Protocols were widely publicized by the Iranian government. A publication called Imam, published by the Iranian embassy in London, quoted extensively from the Protocols in its issues of 1984 and 1985. In 1985 a new edition of the Protocols was printed and widely distributed by the Islamic Propagation Organization, International Relations Department, in Tehran. The Astaneh-ye Qods Razavi (Shrine of Imam Reza) Foundation in Mashhad, Iran, one of the wealthiest institutions in Iran, financed publication of the Protocols in 1994. Parts of the Protocols were published by the daily Jomhouri-ye Eslami in 1994, under the heading The Smell of Blood, Zionist Schemes. Sobh, a radical Islamic monthly, published excerpts from the Protocols under the heading The text of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion for establishing the Jewish global rule in its December 1998–January 1999 issue, illustrated with a caricature of the Jewish snake swallowing the globe.
Iranian writer and researcher Ali Baqeri, who researched the Protocols, finds their plan for world domination to be merely part of an even more grandiose scheme, saying in Sobh in 1999:
In April 2004, the Iranian television station Al-Alam broadcast Al-Sameri wa Al-Saher, a series that reported as fact several conspiracy theories about the Holocaust, Jewish control of Hollywood, and the Protocols. The Iran Pavilion of the 2005 Frankfurt Book Fair had the Protocols, as well as The International Jew (reprints from Henry Ford's The Dearborn Independent) available.
Saudi Arabian schoolbooks contain explicit summaries of the Protocols as factual:
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion: These are secret resolutions, most probably of the aforementioned Basel congress. They were discovered in the nineteenth century. The Jews tried to deny them, but there was ample evidence proving their authenticity and that they were issued by the elders of Zion. The Protocols can be summarized in the following points:
The cogent proof of the authenticity of these resolutions, as well as of the hellish Jewish schemes included therein, is the [actual] carrying out of many of those schemes, intrigues and conspiracies that are found in them. Anyone who reads them—and they were published in the nineteenth century—grasps today to what extent much of what is found there has been realized.
- Upsetting the foundations of the world's present society and its systems, in order to enable Zionism to have a monopoly of world government.
- Eliminating nationalities and religions, especially the Christian nations.
- Striving to increase corruption among the present regimes in Europe, as Zionism believes in their corruption and [eventual] collapse.
- Controlling the media of publication, propaganda and the press, using gold for stirring up disturbances, seducing people by means of lust and spreading wantonness.
According to Freedom House 2006 report, Saudi "textbook for boys for Tenth Grade on Hadith and Islamic Culture contains a lesson on the "Zionist Movement." It is a curious blend of wild conspiracy theories about Masonic Lodges, Rotary Clubs, and Lions Clubs with anti-semitic invective. It asserts that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is an authentic document and teaches students that it reveals what Jews really believe. It blames many of the world’s wars and discord on the Jews."
In March 1970, the Protocols were reported to be the top 'nonfiction' bestseller in Lebanon. The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2004 by the US Department of State states that "the television series, Ash-Shatat ("The Diaspora"), which centred on the alleged conspiracy of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" to dominate the world, was aired in October and November 2003 by the Lebanon-based satellite television network Al-Manar, owned by Hezbollah."
The Charter of Hamas explicitly refers to the Protocols, accepting them as factual and makes several references to Freemasons as one of the "secret societies" controlled by "Zionists." The Article 32 of the Hamas Charter states:
The PNA frequently used the Protocols in the media and education under their control and some Palestinian academics presented the forgery as a plot upon which Zionism is based. For example, on January 25, 2001, the official PNA daily Al-Hayat al-Jadida cited the Protocols on its Political National Education page to explain Israel's policies:
Disinformation has been one of the bases of morale and psychological manipulation among the Israelis ... The Protocols of the Elders of Zion did not ignore the importance of using propaganda to promote the Zionist goals. The second protocol reads: 'Through the newspapers we will have the means to propel and to influence'. In the twelfth protocol: 'Our governments will hold the reins of most of the newspapers, and through this plan we will possess the primary power to turn to public opinion.'
Later that year the same newspaper wrote: "The purpose of the military policy is to impose this situation on the residents and force them to leave their homes, and this is done in the framework of the Protocols of Zion..."
The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Ekrima Sa'id Sabri appeared on the Saudi satellite channel Al-Majd on February 20, 2005, commenting on the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. "Anyone who studies The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and specifically the Talmud," he said, "will discover that one of the goals of these Protocols is to cause confusion in the world and to undermine security throughout the world."
In 2005, it was reported that the Palestinian Authority was teaching the Protocols in schools. After media exposure, the PA promised to stop. On May 19, 2005, the New York Times reported that Palestinian Authority Minister of Information Nabil Shaath removed from his ministry's web site an Arabic translation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
To a great degree, the text is still accepted as truthful in large parts of South America and Asia, especially in Japan where variations on the Protocols have frequently made the bestseller lists.
The text is mostly seen as an authentic document in Turkey, particularly by nationalist and Islamist circles. Protocols were first issued in the magazine Millî İnkılâb (National Revolution) in 1934 and triggered the Thracian pogroms (Trakya Olayları) the same year. It had made over one hundred editions from 1943 to 2004 and remains highly popular as a best-seller of all times.
The New Zealand National Front sells copies published by their former national secretary, Kerry Bolton. Bolton also publishes (and the NZNF sells) a book entitled The Protocols of Zion in Context that seeks to refute the idea that the Protocols are a forgery.
Idi Amin, the President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979, cited the book as evidence of a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world, and as justification for his self-proclaimed plans to destroy Israel. He reveals this in an interview during the 1974 documentary Idi Amin Dada, during which he also invited Palestinian rebels to his country, partially causing the Entebbe affair.
In the Japanese edition published in Tokyo in 2004 Ota Ryu writes that Jews dominate Western nations and that Japan must guard against a Jewish takeover.
A Spanish-language edition of the Protocols, published in Mexico City in 2005, says that whether or not the Protocols are authentic, history shows that Zionists intend to dominate the world.
In Indonesia a translation of the Protocols is available in Indonesian in a bundle with The International Jew by Henry Ford. The books were translated and published in 2006 by the Hikmah division of the publisher Mizan. The front cover of The International Jew shows a quote by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: "The big question is how can the American government support this despicable Zionist regime."
The Protocols have had a tumultuous history in the United States ever since luminaries such as automobile mogul Henry Ford began publishing them under the title of The International Jew. The Protocols were republished as fact in 1991 in Milton William Cooper's conspiracy book Behold a Pale Horse, though Cooper himself holds the Illuminati and not the Jews at fault.
The Plot, the final graphic novel by famed writer/artist Will Eisner, was about the history of the Protocols and the fact that they had been proven to be false numerous times.
The American retail chain, Wal-Mart, was criticized for selling The Protocols of the Elders of Zion on its website with a description that suggested it might be genuine. It was withdrawn from sale in September 2004, as 'a business decision'. It is distributed in the United States by Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam.
In 2002, the Paterson, New Jersey-based Arabic-language newspaper The Arab Voice published excerpts from the Protocols as true. The paper's editor and publisher Walid Rabah defended himself from criticism with the protestation that "some major writers in the Arab nation accept the truth of the book."
During his October 2003 presentation at the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, Samir Makhlouf of the Presbyterian Peacemakers organization stated that the Protocols was a factual text that explains how Zionists have been taking over the world's politics, economics and communications. After the controversy became public, the group's sponsors "agreed that they had made a grave mistake, and … that antisemitism is anti-Christianity."
"In late July 1967, Moscow launched an unprecedented propaganda campaign against Zionism as a "world threat." Defeat was attributed not to tiny Israel alone, but to an "all-powerful international force." … In its flagrant vulgarity, the new propaganda assault soon achieved Nazi-era characteristics. The Soviet public was saturated with racist canards. Extracts from Trofim Kichko's notorious 1963 volume, Judaism Without Embellishment, were extensively republished in the Soviet media. Yuri Ivanov's Beware: Zionism, a book essentially replicated The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, was given nationwide coverage."
A similar picture is drawn by historian Paul Johnson:
(the mass media) "all over the Soviet Union portrayed the Zionists (i.e. Jews) and Israeli leaders as engaged in a world-wide conspiracy along the lines of the old Protocols of Zion. It was, Sovietskaya Latvia wrote 5 August 1967, an 'international Cosa Nostra with a common centre, common programme and common funds'".
Despite stipulations against fomenting hatred based on ethnic or religious grounds (Article 282 of the Russian Penal Code), the Protocols have enjoyed numerous reprints in the nationalist press after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 2003, one century after the first publication of the Protocols, an article in the most popular Russian weekly Argumenty i fakty referred to it as a "peculiar bible of Zionism" and showed a photo of the First Zionist Congress of 1897. The co-president of the National-Patriot Union of Russia Alexander Prokhanov wrote: "It does not matter whether the Protocols are a forgery or a factual conspiracy document." The article also contained refutation of the allegations by the president of the Russian Jewish congress Yevgeny Satanovsky.
As recently as 2005, the Protocols was "a frequent feature in Patriarchate churches". On January 27, 2006, members of the Public Chamber of Russia and human rights activists proposed to establish a list of extremist literature whose dissemination should be formally banned for uses other than scientific research.
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