The Para­noid Apoc­a­lypse: A Hun­dred-Year Ret­ro­spec­tive on The Pro­to­cols of the Elders of Zion

Richard Lan­des and Steven T. Katz, eds.
  • Review
By – February 24, 2012

No writ­ten work has been more lethal for the Jew­ish peo­ple than The Pro­to­cols of the Elders of Zion. First pub­lished in Czarist Rus­sia in 1905, the Pro­to­cols describes a con­spir­a­cy of Jew­ish elders” orga­nized to infil­trate cul­tur­al, polit­i­cal, eco­nom­ic, and oth­er aspects of civ­i­liza­tion for the pur­pose of glob­al dom­i­na­tion. The forgery trav­elled from Rus­sia to the Unit­ed States, where Hen­ry Ford had it trans­lat­ed into Eng­lish and pro­ceed­ed to cir­cu­late it through Ford deal­ers as well as in his news­pa­per, The Dear­born Inde­pen­dent, to Ger­many, where Adolf Hitler premised his war against the Jews on the basis of his belief in a world Jew­ish con­spir­a­cy which sought to destroy the Aryan race, The Pro­to­cols con­tin­ues to fan hatred against both Jews and Israel, espe­cial­ly in much of the Mid­dle East. The Hamas char­ter, for exam­ple, includes excerpts from this nefar­i­ous fab­ri­ca­tion.

The Para­noid Apoc­a­lypse is a col­lec­tion of schol­ar­ly essays that pro­vide the read­er with a hun­dred-year per­spec­tive of how the lies of The Pro­to­cols con­vinced mil­lions of peo­ple of the truth of this canard direct­ed against the Jew­ish peo­ple. The volume’s edi­tors, Richard Lan­des and Steven T. Katz, have includ­ed schol­ars such as Deb­o­rah Lip­stadt, Jef­frey Mehlman, among oth­ers, who con­vinc­ing­ly argue that The Pro­to­cols played a key role in the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry to mar­gin­al­ize and dehu­man­ize Euro­pean Jew­ry, and is used in our own time to demo­nize Israel. As one his­to­ri­an writes, the Shoah did not begin with con­cen­tra­tion camps and trains. It began with words and ideas.” In short, The Pro­to­cols con­tributed to the hatred of Jews that led to the Holo­caust.

The con­trib­u­tors to this impor­tant vol­ume also exam­ine the medieval roots of the belief in a Jew­ish con­spir­a­cy to destroy Chris­t­ian civ­i­liza­tion as the min­ions of the Dev­il. In con­tem­po­rary times, the Dev­il is sec­u­lar­ized by link­ing Jews with Bol­she­vism and world rev­o­lu­tion. There are also essays that exam­ine why The Pro­to­cols remains pop­u­lar in many parts of the world (Japan, for exam­ple) and despite abun­dant proof of its false claims, it con­tin­ues to be a pri­ma­ry source of con­tem­po­rary anti-Semitism.

Jack Fis­chel is pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of his­to­ry at Millersville Uni­ver­si­ty, Millersville, PA and author of The Holo­caust (Green­wood Press) and His­tor­i­cal Dic­tio­nary of the Holo­caust (Row­man and Littlefield).

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