The enduring influence of The Protocols of Zion
Book excerpt: In a new book about the origins of conspiracy theories, Jonathan Kay argues that the malign influences of The Protocols of Zion is still with us.
In August, 1897, Theodor Herzl and two hundred fellow activists convened at a concert hall in Basel, Switzerland, to attend the First Zionist Congress. The capstone of their deliberations was The Basel Program, a landmark manifesto aimed at “establishing for the Jewish people a publicly and legally assured home in Palestine.” The delegates also officially adopted the Hatikvah, a song that, six decades later, would become the national anthem for the country we call Israel.
But as legend has it, it was all an elaborate act — just a respectable set-piece to divert gentile journalists and spies from the real meeting taking place at a secret location nearby. There, Herzl delivered a clandestine 24-part lecture series for Jewish ears only. In these speeches, “protocols” as Herzl called them, there was little talk of carving a small country out of the Middle Eastern desert. What he proposed was nothing less than a plan for total world domination.
Europe’s gentiles — or goyim, as they were described in Yiddish — generally were a happy, earnest lot, Herzl told his audience. They worked their farms and small businesses assiduously, prayed to a benevolent Christian God, and prospered under the kindly, lawful aristocrats who rose up from among their ranks.
But they were also gullible, lustful, greedy and unstable in their attitudes — human frailties that the calculating, ascetic Jew could exploit in order to rob them of their entitlements.
— Part one of four from Among the Truthers by Jonathan Kay. Read the rest of the excerpt.