The Protocols of Zion

By Jared Israel, Editor, Emperor's Clothes, 26 November 2002

Part I: Weapon Against Democracy

God Above, if men would only use their ears
They would know who does what, and to whom.

Bertolt Brecht, The Ballad of Marie Saunders

As I write these words, millions of people are watching a TV series called Horseman [or ‘Knight'] Without a Horse produced by Dream TV in Egypt. It is 41 episodes long. It is being shown all around the world.

I wouldn't be telling you this except it is a TV adaptation of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Adolph Hitler's favorite book.

You may not have heard of The Protocols of Zion, or you may have heard that it is a hoax. Or perhaps you have heard people say there is a Jewish plot to rule the world and The Protocols of Zion is in some way involved.

Those who push The Protocols generally claim it is the minutes of a meeting of Jewish leaders, whom the book bizarrely calls Elders of Zion. Sometimes they say these Elders met in 1897 in Berne, Switzerland, at the time of the first Zionist conference; other times in Paris. (Just for the record, the Zionist conference in Berne was an entirely open affair.)

The most obvious theme of The Protocols is that Jewish people are supposed to be this homogeneous block of conspirators with nearly supernatural powers, and led by cunning Masters of Deceit (the Elders of Zion) who are united behind the goal of ruling over gentiles.

To help conquer the gentiles (or, in Yiddish, the ‘goyim') The Elders of Zion supposedly employ, of all people, the Fraternal Order of Masons, who have the task of infiltrating and undermining the always-clueless gentiles.

The Protocols was shown to be a hoax in a superb series of articles published in the London Times back in 1921. We have scanned the relevant editions of the London Times and I am proud to say you can view them, for the first time on the Internet, at Emperor's Clothes. (1)

But what is the point of The Protocols hoax?

Hoax with a Purpose

It is very easy to fall into an error regarding the Protocols.

That error is to see it exclusively as an expression of hatred of Jewish people. Of course, it is violently anti-Semitic. However, as we shall see, it was written, and is still used today, to accomplish a goal.

The Protocols is a convenient tool for those who hold power and wish to distort, forestall or undermine democracy.

Ordinary people everywhere are susceptible to racist arguments. So undemocratic establishment forces often try to mobilize people's fears of particular ethnic groups so as to distract them from the real source of inequality and oppression: the establishment elite. The ethnic group targeted has often been Jewish people because they are a distinct minority in many countries.

The Protocols have been used in this manner to mobilize prejudice and fear against Jews. The first and most obvious effect is to provide a scapegoat on whom to blame all social problems and discontent, thus diverting the majority from organizing against the real holders of power.

But there is yet another purpose, perhaps more significant. The Protocols states that progressive movements—as far back as the 18th century movement for Liberty, Equality and Fraternity—are all secretly the work of Jews. By spreading the ideas of The Protocols, fascist operatives, often covertly employed by seemingly respectable Establishments, can accuse those who demand change or who expose abuses of being agents of ‘The Jews'. Since anti-Jewish prejudice (anti-Semitism) is common anyway, presenting the struggle for social reform as being controlled by ‘The Jews’ is an attempt to convince people that social reform is bad for them. Thus, the ideas in The Protocols are used to poison the very terms of political discourse and to destroy movements for reform, isolating honest reformers, or even transforming such movements into tools of the Establishment. Moreover, if the fear of an evil conspiracy of Elders of Zion can be sufficiently whipped up, ordinary people can be gotten to surrender rights and to engage in criminal acts which they would never permit, let alone support, under normal circumstances.

As I noted earlier, researchers have shown that The Protocols is a work of fiction. But it was not originally written mainly to attack Jews or Masons. Rather, it employed the rhetorical device of a supposed Jewish/Mason conspiracy to attack democrats trying to reform the Russian Empire, accusing them of being agents of the imaginary Jewish conspiracy.

The Russian Czar's secret police, the Okhrana, fabricated The Protocols in the 1890s. Pyotr Ivanovich Rachkovsky, then head of the Russian Secret Police abroad, probably ordered the writing of the Protocols. Rachkovsky was a big advocate of using anti-Semitism to attack reformers and revolutionaries. After the Russian Revolution of 1905, he helped organize the fascist-like Black Hundreds in Russia. Moreover, his specialty was the creation of false documents:

This born intriguer delighted in forging documents. As head of the Okhrana outside Russia his main concern was to cope with Russian revolutionaries who had taken refuge abroad. One of his favourite methods was to produce a letter or pamphlet in which a supposed revolutionary attacked the revolutionary leadership. In 1887 there appeared in the French press a letter by a certain ‘P. Ivanov', who claimed to be a disillusioned revolutionary, asserting—quite falsely—that the majority of the terrorists were Jews. In 1890 there appeared a pamphlet [also forged by Rachkovsky]...[with the title,] ‘A Confession by an Old Man once a Revolutionary'... accusing the [Russian] revolutionaries who had taken refuge in London of being British agents. (2)

The goal of The Protocols was to convince Russians that the liberal reformers and social revolutionaries threatening the power of the Russian aristocracy would destroy Russia. That is why we find that the Protocols includes statements like this one:

The principal guarantee of stability of rule is to confirm the aureole of power, and this aureole is attained only by such a majestic inflexibility of might as shall carry on its face the emblems of inviolability [derived] from mystical causes- from the choice of God. Such was, until recent times, the Russian autocracy, the one and only serious foe we had in the world, without counting the papacy.

from Protocols on ‘Mystical Autocracy'; Protocol 15 (3)

As you will recall, advocates of the Protocols claim it is the minutes of a meeting of some Elders of Zion. Pretending for the moment that these Elders existed, they would hate the Aristocrats (since they are trying to undermine them). So why on earth would they make flowery, overblown statements about the mystical glories of the Russian aristocracy? Why would they say that the Russian autocracy was chosen by God?

They wouldn't. But advocates of the Russian aristocracy would. Especially if they were writing a pamphlet which used a fictional meeting of Elders of Zion as a device to boost the Aristocracy and paint its opponents as agents of the Jews.

Once you understand that The Protocols was a hoax intended to prevent social reforms in quasi-feudal Russia, it makes sense. But if you try to read The Protocols as the minutes of a supposed meeting of real conspirators, it's an incoherent mess. I'll show you an example of that in Part 2.

Footnotes and Further Reading [Part I]

(1) On 16-18 August 1921, Philip Graves published his famous London Times articles showing how The Protocols of Zion was a plagiary. We have scanned his articles into PDF files and also transcribed them for easier reading. All is accessible at

(2) Norman Cohn, 1981 (1969), Warrant For Genocide: The Myth of the Jewish World Conspiracy and ‘The Protocols of Elders of Zion', Chico, CA: Scholars Press

(3) Sergyei A. Nilus, 1958 (1921), Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, London, UK: The Britons

Part II

Illogical, Sloppy and Incoherent... but otherwise just fine

As we shall see in Part III of this article, it is not absurd to think that *some* (by no means all!) of the political statements in the Protocols resemble the attitudes and plans of our modern Establishments. Indeed, as we shall see, this would have to be true given the source of the Protocols. But taken as a description of a supposed plot by Elders of Zion, the book simply makes no sense.

Consider first that The Protocols is written from the viewpoint of the most extreme right-wing Aristocrats -- and yet these conspirators are supposed to loathe the Aristocrats...And the Aristocratic language the supposed conspirators use is missing all the ironic humor of Yiddish literature and speech; yet the authors are supposed to be Central or East European Jews...And the document is supposed to be the minutes of a meeting, and yet there is no mention of the order of business, no ‘he-said, she-said,’ and some of it is actually written in the *first person*.

*Some secretary, he writes up a meeting this way! What, is this whole conspiracy just one secretary, he's got to record his own minutes?* (I wrote the last two sentences to demonstrate the cadence of Yiddish; note that those sentences sound nothing at all like, The principal guarantee of stability of rule is to confirm the aureole of power, and this aureole is attained only by such a majestic inflexibility of might... etc., etc.

As my grandfather, a Russian Jew, would have said, What it is, I can't say. But Yiddish it is not.

Second, sometimes the author states that The Jews must carry out one or another evil deed *in the future,* in order to bring down the gentile states. But at other times the author claims the (supposed) Jewish conspirators *are already in power.* Whoever fabricated The Protocols was obviously in a great hurry to finish. They didn't have time for minimal editing.

Third, from Adolph Hitler to Muhammad Subhi, who wrote the script for the TV series, Horseman without a Horse, which glorifies The Protocols, those who present this as an honest document say it is a blueprint for Jewish action. Some of its plans, they say, have already come true; others are in the works.

But as a plan for action it is completely incoherent. By way of example, let us consider what The Protocols says about ‘Equality'.

The Jews Are ‘Blamed’ for...Equality? ...Blamed?

In the following quote, note that The Protocols presents the made-up Jewish Elders as accepting the ‘blame’ for spreading the egalitarian ideas of the French and American Revolutions. Who on earth would consider spreading the ideas of Liberty and Equality to be blameworthy? Who, that is, but the most ultra-right wing Aristocrats?

In all corners of the earth the words Liberty, Equality, Fraternity brought to our ranks, *thanks to our blind agents*, whole legions who bore our banners with enthusiasm. And all the time *these words were canker-worms* at work boring into the well-being of the goyim, putting an end everywhere to peace, quiet, solidarity and destroying all the foundations of the goy [i.e., gentile] States. As you will see later this helped us to our triumph; it gave us the possibility, among other things, of getting into our hands *the master card—the destruction of the privileges [!], or in other words of the very existence of the Aristocracy of the goyim, that class which was the only defence peoples and countries had against us.* On the ruins of the *natural and genealogical Aristocracy* of the goyim we have set up the Aristocracy of our educated class headed by the Aristocracy of money. (My emphasis)

from The Protocols #1 on Equality (3)

First, notice that these European Jews are apparently incapable of speaking their own language. In Yiddish the word ‘goy’ is a noun. The adjective would be ‘goyisha.’ No Yiddish-speaking person would write about the goy states because this is like talking about America baseball or France wines. Such errors reveal that the writer could not speak Yiddish, where the proper expression would be goyisha states.

Second, notice that we are told a secret Jewish plot was behind the democratic slogans of the 18th century! It was? Voltaire was Jewish? Rousseau was Jewish? Tom Paine was Jewish? George Washington was Jewish? They were agents of The Jews? They were? You gotta love that.

Third, note that even the agents who supposedly carry out this secret Jewish plot (to spread the ideas of Liberty and Equality [!] and thereby bring whole legions... to our ranks) are blind to what they are really doing. Those Jews really must have some heavy supernatural powers.

Fourth, and most important, the writer states that the *privileges*—not just the leadership, mind you, but the *privileges*—of the natural and genealogical Aristocracy were the only defence peoples and countries had against us [i.e., against the evil plotters of the Elders of Zion and their minions, the evil Freemasons].

How obliging of the supposed Jewish plotters to stress so strongly the crucial benefits to the oppressed masses of the *privileges* of the Aristocracy—i.e., of their oppressors. Why, the Aristocrats should have sent those Elders of Zion a thank you note!

The Protocols reads like what it is: a pro-Aristocracy propaganda pamphlet. It says that if the Aristocrats lose their privileges, society falls apart or falls prey to conspirators—indeed, it says that the effort to limit Aristocratic privilege is itself the work of the enemies of the goy states. And this apology for the natural and genealogical Aristocracy is put in the mouths of the most discriminated group at the time: The Jews. Amazing stuff.

Fifth, note that the supposed destruction of goyisha society is presented here in the past tense.

Thus we are told that by boring into the well-being of the goyim with the canker-worms of belief in Liberty, Equality, Fraternity these Elders got hold of the master card—the destruction of the [Aristocracy's] privileges which destruction has in turn *already* destroyed all the foundations of the goy States.

So the supposed conquest of goy states is presented as already having been accomplished: As you will see later this *helped* us to our triumph. Past tense.

And yet elsewhere the Elders of Zion speak wistfully of a distant time, When we at last definitely come into our kingdom by the aid of coups d'etat prepared everywhere for one and the same day...

So which is it? Are The Elders already in power? Or are they trying to come to power?

And Sixth, you will recall that in the quote above the elders said the goyim have been and must be won to believing in equality. However, we are also told that:

It is essential to teach in national schools one simple, true piece of knowledge, the basis of all knowledge—the knowledge of the structure of human life, of social existence, which requires division of labour, and, consequently, the division of men into classes and conditions. It is essential for all to know that owing to difference in the objects of human activity *there cannot be any equality.*

from Protocols #3 on Equality (3)

So, The Elders of Zion want to a) win all the goyim to believe in equality but b) they also want to teach all the goyim that you shouldn't believe in equality.

Certainly a challenging approach...

Imagine the task of some poor Jewish underlings, scurrying to carry out the dictates of the hotshot Elders of Zion, as expressed in the quotes on Equality from Protocols #1 and #3, above. They would have to mobilize those whole legions of our blind agents to teach the necessity of equality in the morning, only to re-mobilize the same blind legions to teach the impossibility of equality, at night. This would run the poor legions ragged. (But perhaps the endless labor of building up and destroying the gentiles’ belief in equality, repeated over and over, would drive the gentiles crazy, thus in itself wiping out goyisha society, or at least making it very tired).

And yet, though the two passages are incoherent *as prescriptions for or predictions of action,* they do serve a function. The first quote argues that equality is harmful; the second quote argues that it is impossible. Thus, both passages support the idea that the privileges of the natural and genealogical Aristocracy must be maintained. And that, after all, is why The Protocols was written.

Investigators were able to show many decades ago that this book was not written by some supposed Elders of Zion. Big surprise.

As I mentioned earlier, this was shown in 1921 by Philip Graves, writing with intelligence and wit in the London Times. I am proud to say that we have scanned Mr. Graves’ articles, from August 16, 17 and 18, 1921, so the originals of these historic and brilliant documents can be viewed for the first time on the Internet. Mr. Graves took passages from a liberal French political satire, published in 1863, and compared them to passages from The Protocols of Zion. As you will see, they are near-carbon copies.

Knowledge is power. All who fight for democratic change need to understand better how the myths promulgated in the The Protocols of Zion are used to pollute movements and undermine the very possibility of democratic change.

Footnotes and Further Reading [for Part II]

(3) Sergyei A. Nilus, 1958 (1921), Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, London, UK: The Britons

Part III: [Discussion]

Why do The Protocols Sometimes Seem to Ring True? It's because of who fabricated this hoax and the books they used to cobble it together.

Dear Emperor's Clothes,

I am no anti-Semite. I discount the pathetic, silly and melodramatic anti-Semitism in the Protocols of Elders of Zion. So why is it that for me, some parts of The Protocols ring true?

Charley Bancroft
New York City

Jared Israel Replies

Dear Mr. Bancroft,

Thanks for your note. Good point. Actually we've gotten several letters saying the same thing. So you're not alone.

Why do some parts of The Protocols ring true even for people who loathe anti-Semitism? The answer lies in the materials used to cobble together this hoax.

There were at least three sources. Two were anti-Semitic but one was not. Let's look at the non-anti-Semitic source first.

Source #1—Dialogues in Hell

This was a book written by the French democrat, Maurice Joly.

Published in 1864, Joly's book was called Dialogues in Hell between Montesquieu and Machiavelli (or Dialogues for short). (1)

In it, the ghosts of two philosophers, the authoritarian Machiavelli and the reform-minded Montesquieu, meet in hell and have a discussion.

Montesquieu defends democracy, but Machiavelli argues that democratic forms can easily be manipulated. Using language that drips with contempt for the masses, Machiavelli describes how despots can and do combine deceit, demagoguery and ruthless suppression to undermine democracy.

Joly's Dialogues was a satire. In it, the Machiavelli character is meant to stand for Napoleon III, who was Emperor of France at the time. Napoleon was a scheming despot, a demagogue and an imperialist and he did indeed undermine democracy. Also, he did not care for criticism. His police threw Maurice Joly in jail.

Dialogues was not anti-Semitic. It was not pro-Semitic. It had nothing to do with Jews.

In 1921, journalist Philip Graves wrote a series of articles in the London Times comparing passages from Joly's Dialogues to passages from The Protocols of Zion. Graves concluded that the author of The Protocols had plagiarized Dialogues in at least 50 places.

To read Philip Graves’ London Times articles, go to

Below is an example of what Graves found. [Note: Graves refers to Maurice Joly's book as ‘Geneva Dialogues’ because it was first published in Geneva, Switzerland.]

The Unbounded Meanness of the Peoples

Machiavelli.—You do not know the unbounded meanness of the peoples... groveling before force, pitiless towards the weak, implacable to faults, indulgent to crimes, incapable of supporting the contradictions of a free régime, and patient to the point of martyrdom under the violence of an audacious despotism... giving themselves masters whom they pardon for deeds for the least of which they would have beheaded twenty constitutional kings.

Protocols, p. 15:

In their intense meanness the Christian peoples help our independence-when kneeling they crouch before power; when they are pitiless towards the weak; merciless in dealing with faults, and lenient to crimes; when they refuse to recognize the contradictions of freedom; when they are patient to the degree of martyrdom in bearing with the violence of an audacious despotism. At the hands of their present dictators, Premiers, and ministers, they endure abuses for the smallest of which they would have murdered twenty kings.

Excerpt on Unbounded Meanness: Geneva Dialogues, p. 43

In the quotation from Dialogues, Joly's fictional Machiavelli speaks contemptuously of the peoples.

Since Machiavelli was a stand-in for Napoleon, Joly's point was to tell ordinary people: ‘Napoleon loathes you. Don't fall for his tricks. Don't let yourself be led around by the nose by this man.'

For whom Joly rings true

Joly's writing might resonate with readers in three categories:

Category one: Those who believe that (leaving aside his contemptuous tone) Machiavelli is correct that ordinary people *can* be seduced by demagogues.

Category two: Those who believe that history consists of the playing out of Machiavelli's view that common people always fall for the worst leaders.

Category three: Those who see in Machiavelli's cynicism and contempt for the peoples an outlook typical of ruling classes in 1864 and today.

One might find oneself in one or more of these categories. (I, for example, find myself in categories one and three.)

Getting back to the two texts on the unbounded meanness of the peoples, posted above, note that they are essentially the same. Therefore if Machiavelli's words ring true for you in Dialogues, they will probably ring true for you in The Protocols.

But note that some things have been changed.

In Dialogues Machiavelli uses the phrase, the peoples.

But in The Protocols, this has been changed to, the Christian peoples. And Machiavelli has of course been replaced by Elders of Zion.

These changes are of immense importance. Coming from Machiavelli, the contemptuous words constitute a self-indictment of ruling class attitudes and a warning to ordinary people not to fall for scheming, authoritarian demagogues.

But altered as they have been in The Protocols, the words create the impression that Jews detest gentiles. This is precisely what people in the West and in the Muslim world have been taught for generations, mainly by religious authorities. It is the accusation anti-Semites make to attack Jews today.


Because, like any racial hatred, anti-Semitism is rooted in fear. And it is far easier for anti-Semitic religious zealots and politicians to mobilize ordinary people for righteous self-defense against a perceived threat than for brutal and unprovoked aggression against a harmless minority.

So, The Protocols is Dialogues modified by anti-Semitism.

To turn Dialogues into a narrative involving Jews, a second source was used...

Source #2—Biarritz

'Biarritz’ was a novel written in 1868 by the Prussian Secret Police agent, Hermann Goedsche. Besides being a police provocateur, Goedsche liked to put on airs, so he gave himself a fancy British penname, ‘Sir John Retcliff.'

Goedsche was a postal employee. As part of his Secret Police work he forged letters which were used as evidence to frame a democratic leader in 1849. He was caught and had to leave the postal service. So he became an anti-Semitic journalist and novelist.

His novel, ‘Biarritz,’ has a chapter in which Jewish leaders are depicted as gathering every 100 years in a cemetery to plot the destruction of gentile society. In his book on The Protocols, Norman Cohn summarized this scene:

When the thirteenth and last figure has taken its place a clock strikes midnight. From the grave there comes a sharp, metallic sound. A blue flame appears and lights up the thirteen kneeling figures. A hollow voice says, ‘I greet you, heads of the twelve tribes of Israel.’ And the figures dutifully reply: ‘We greet you, son of the accursed.' (2)

I assume son of the accursed refers either to the Devil or one of his representatives.

Note that these would-be rulers of the world choose to hold their get-togethers in a cemetery instead of picking a spot with some class, a Club Med maybe, or at least a Holiday Inn.

Goedsche's cemetery chapter was repeatedly published as a pamphlet in Eastern Europe during the late 19th century. It created a kind of genre which was the basis of The Protocols—the meeting of elderly Jews plotting world conquest.

Source # 3—The Czarist Police

The third influence was the Russian Czar's secret police, the Okhrana, which cobbled together The Protocols. (3) They added the business about liberal reformers being used by The Jews to destroy gentile society. To that end, they plagiarized from Joly's book not only the statements of the authoritarian (Machiavelli) but also the statements of the reformer (Montesquieu). The idea was to accuse The Jews of being behind *both* capitalism *and* socialism, i.e., everything threatening to the position of the traditional aristocratic elites in Europe.

Is antisemitism just ‘silly'?

You also commented that the anti-Semitism in The Protocols is silly, pathetic and melodramatic. I agree, but when you examine racism as *ideas* doesn't it generally look pretty silly? (At least, it looks silly when the racist ideas are not one's own.)

This silliness may have something to do with racism being first instilled in people when they are very young. (4)

Once the seed sprouts, the plant can be nurtured to grow and flower. Throughout history bigotry has been used as a tool by religious leaders, demagogues and Empire builders. In modern times, it has been a key weapon of mass political struggle.

For example, from the early 1920s on, first the British and then the Nazi Germans backed the violently anti-Semitic Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al-Husseini (5), in order to maintain a politically dominant position in Palestine. The Nazis also used the Mufti among Muslims in Bosnia and the Soviet Union, where Al-Husseini added Slavophobia to his anti-Jewish appeal. Absent racism, what did British Imperialism or Nazism have to offer these populations?

There is something about us human beings that gives us a weakness for bigotry. Therefore, silly or pathetic although *other people's* racism may appear, it is no joke. Regarding anti-Semitism, various populations have been indoctrinated to fear Jews for up to two thousand years, and so these fears have great potential power even among people whom one might view as far too sophisticated to believe such nonsense—because it isn't merely nonsense, it is *belief*.

Arabs are no more fools than the rest of us. However, millions of Arab citizens stayed glued to their TV sets for 41 episodes—41!—of a silly, pathetic rewrite of the Protocols of Zion, broadcast as a melodramatic TV miniseries by an Egyptian production company with the nightmare name, ‘Dream TV.'

The idea of turning The Protocols into a melodramatic mini-series is nothing new. That is essentially what the Okhrana did in the first place, taking the compelling content of Joly's Dialogues and framing it with the story from ‘Biarritz,’ the fictional secret meeting of elderly Jews, supposedly plotting to rule the world.

This mixture of racist lies plus a compelling story is the essence of effective racist propaganda. Really, almost any good story could be made into racist propaganda, especially if said story includes criticism of social injustice. It could even be done with my favorite American novel, The Grapes of Wrath.

Did your eyebrows go up? Believe me, it could be done.

Perhaps I'll write more on that later.

Best regards,

Jared Israel
Emperor's Clothes

Footnotes & Further Reading [for Part III]

1) Joly's Dialogues in Hell can be purchased from the French Website of at at qid=1036738098/br=1-10/ref=br_lf_b_10/171-2937388-8946639

2) Norman Cohn, 1981 (1969), Warrant For Genocide: The Myth of the Jewish World Conspiracy and ‘The Protocols of Elders of Zion', Chico, CA: Scholars Press, p.34


4) Speaking of racist indoctrination of the very young, a broadcast of the Egyptian TV program, ‘Muslim Woman', featured an interview with a three and a half year old girl who explained what she thinks of Jews (They are apes and swine...). The broadcast was posted by MEMRI, which monitors and posts translations of the Arab media. It can be viewed in streaming video at A transcript can be read at

5) Ex-Mufti, Criminal Ally, by Observer (Immaneul Velikosvy), New York Post, Monday, February 23, 1948.