By Steven G. Kellman
Judging by the range of its malicious influence, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion might be the most successful fraud ever perpetrated. Devised by the Tsarist secret police and published in 1905, it purports to comprise the minutes of meetings in which rich old Jews conspire to take over the world. Its libels about Jewish lust for wealth and power were used to justify pogroms in Russia and eagerly seized upon by Nazi propagandists preparing for genocide.
Auto magnate Henry Ford, who railed against Jews in The Dearborn Independent, published an English translation of The Protocols, and an Arabic version has been widely circulated in the Middle East, where its spurious accusations became part of the Hamas charter and Egyptian state TV broadcast a dramatization. Though the anti-Semitic document has long since been exposed as a venomous fake, it is kept in circulation in the miasma of the internet.
The Tsarist secret police could not exploit the internet to spread their lethal lies. But contemporary bigots can. In fact, 4chan, a website that boasts it is “Politically Incorrect,” posted an anonymous call to “create a massive movement of fake Jewish profiles on Facebook, Twitter, etc.” It explained: “Since Jews shapeshift into whites anytime they want, we can do the same to them.” Impersonators were advised to flaunt the most repugnant notions and create divisions among Jews themselves: “You can take the blame for world events. Post redpill facts about your fellow Jews. Slave trade, monetary facts, mass media, porn industry etc…etc… Being a Jew, you are able to subvert Jews themselves. Since Jewishness is 100% based on supremacism, you can use the same tactics they have used to dismantle our own society. You can push for more diversity in Israel, for example. More race mixing…etc…etc…If your fellow Jews disagree, call them Nazi’s, racists, bigots, xenophobes.”
Accounts with names such as Adelberg, Berkowitz, and Goldenstein began showing up on Twitter. Many featured photos appropriated from real Jews. The counterfeits posted outrageous falsehoods designed to reinforce pernicious stereotypes and foment discord between religious and secular Jews, conservative and liberal ones. Twitter reported it suspended accounts it became aware of, though it is hard to defeat foot soldiers determined to knit an unlimited stock of sock puppets.
The Nazis who marched through Charlottesville chanted: “Jews will not replace us!” Anxious that Anglo Saxon “civilization” (thugs tattooed with swastikas?) was being overwhelmed by alien hordes, they lashed out at Jews – outsiders themselves who were allegedly bankrolling “caravans” of invading migrants. Just as workers resent losing employment to robots, some white Christians resist demographic change – the imminent prospect of being outnumbered.
The diabolical strategy is to invert the replacement. Instead of letting Jews “replace us,” the internet imposters attempt to replace the Jews. How to tell a charlatan from the genuine article? According to the Mishnaic Pirkei Avot 5:22, a true Jew possesses “a generous eye, a humble spirit, and a meek soul.”
Steven G. Kellman is a professor of comparative literature at the University of Texas at San Antonio.