Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Hadassa Ben-Itto, a former Israeli judge, honorary president and past president of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists. She is the author of the book The Lie That Wouldn't Die: The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion, now published in nine languages.
FP: Hadassa Ben-Itto, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Ben-Itto: Thank you for inviting me.
FP: What inspired you to write this book?
Ben-Itto: During my years on the bench I was occasionally invited to represent Israel in various international bodies (UN, UNESCO), and like many Israeli delegates and representatives, I was routinely attacked by hostile delegates. Although I represented a sovereign Member State these verbal attacks were not limited to Israel, but very often targeted the Jewish People. Anti-Semitic expressions sometimes used old libels, which one would have thought had been delegated to the scrap heap of history.
Unlike all other delegates, we Israelis were compelled to use daily our right of reply.
Among other libels against my people, like the infamous blood libels, openly attributing to Jews the murder of gentile children in order to use their blood to bake matzot for Passover, some delegates often mentioned The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
I usually made short shrift of these false allegations, but I regret to this day that in my reply I never alleged to the Protocols, convinced that such an absurd libel did not deserve to be addressed, even in passing.
It took me twenty years and many similar occasions to realize that I could not ignore this subject any longer.
When I finally took the time to read the Protocols, I felt the need to follow this story and learn how such an absurd libel had been launched upon the world, how and by whom it had been concocted, and how it was still circulating around the globe, in every language.
It started as a private investigation, to satisfy my own curiosity, and the more I read the more intrigued I became. Using up all my free time and all court vacations, I read all available literature on the subject, and soon learned, to my surprise, that all available books that tell the truth about the Protocols, in every language, were footnoted academic studies, not meant for the general readership.
When I realized how this libel was being published in millions of copies in every language, poisoning minds and causing real damage, I decided to write a popular book, setting out all the facts of this hundred year old story, for those readers who are open minded enough to learn the truth.
The more I learned, the more urgent it seemed, which is why I just couldn’t wait for my formal retirement age (compulsory for judges in Israel). As I had been appointed to the bench at a quite young age, I served thirty-one years before taking early retirement to research the story of the Protocols and write my book The Lie That Wouldn’t Die.
It took me six years.
FP: What exactly are the Protocols?
Ben-Itto: The Protocols are a fabricated document, in large part plagiarized from a French book that had nothing to do with Jews.
They pretend to be real minutes of meetings of a secret international Jewish government, the so-called ”Elders of Zion”, that plans to dominate the whole world.
Actually there is one speaker, the head of the Elders, who presents to his colleagues, in twenty-four chapters, a detailed plan explaining how this aim is going to be achieved.
This is clearly a political document, presenting a Jewish criminal conspiracy to achieve domination of the world by implementing a chain of specified criminal acts, aimed at replacing all legitimate governments by one Jewish leader, from the House of David, who would rule the whole world.
All non-Jews (the ‘Goyim’) are presented in the Protocols as primitive and dumb, whom the “clever” Jews would easily convince that this plan is actually being implemented for their own good.
The criminal acts are justified because according to Jewish philosophy, as set out in their holy books, “Might is Right” and the end justifies the means.
FP: Let’s talk about the use of libels against Jews throughout history. Tell us about some of them and how this particular forgery is different.
Ben-Itto: Anti-Semites are not born. They are raised on anti-Semitic messages that are always based on false facts, on libels. People must be given reasons to hate the Jews. For two thousand years it was religion that supplied the reason, generations were raised to believe that Jews were Christ killers, that they crucified the savior. Even after the Catholic Church finally absolved the Jews of this particular crime, it is still embedded in the minds of many Christians. One does not need better proof than the recent film “The Passion” by Mel Gibson.
Throughout the generations hating the Jews needed more fuel, and it was always supplied by whatever allegations were most liable to be believed by the public. Thus, if there was an epidemic, the Jews poisoned the wells. If a Christian child was murdered, the Jews did it for ritual purposes.
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion differ from other libels in many ways.
Unlike other libels, this is not something others say about the Jews, which one might choose to disbelieve. It is what the Jews allegedly say about themselves, it is their plan presented in a secret document that miraculously fell into the hands of those who published it.
When confronted with libels based on alleged historical facts one could argue that the Jews of today must not be blamed for what their ancestors did, even if the allegations were true.
Not so the Protocols, which are first and foremost a political document, that is used not only to explain past events, but relevant to the present situation wherever they are published. The so-called “Jewish Conspiracy” (obviously based on the Protocols) has become a central theme on the agenda of the global political discourse, and is being used as a strategic weapon to demonize Jews and de-legitimize Israel.
Every part of the so-called “Jewish Plan” set out in the Protocols can be, and actually is, compared to current events, by adding long introductions to the original text of the Protocols. This is why new editions are necessary almost every year, in which the original text never varies, but the introduction deals with current events on an ongoing basis. So, a new introduction is necessary after 9/11, to blame the Jews for that terrorist attack. The Protocols are thus constantly up-dated in order to blame the Jews for the ongoing wars, like the one in Iraq, and even in the Balkans. The Jews are also blamed for the devaluation in Malaysia as well as the AIDS epidemic (Jewish doctors are accused of injecting Arab children with the virus), and of course, the whole mess in the Middle East. They are first aiming to dominate this whole region, the introductions maintain, and from here they will proceed to dominate the rest of the world. It is the Jews who are the real threat to world peace.
They seem to have invented the ultimate weapon against the Jews, a weapon that is never outdated as it is constantly updated to fit current political issues. Referring to Sergei Nilus, who first published the Protocols in 1905 in a Russian monastery, Christopher Sykes said in an article published in the periodical History Today in 1967, “Nilus thought he had dropped a high-explosive bomb; in fact he had set a delayed-action land-mine.”
FP: In our world today it is not politically correct to incite against any other people, except Jews. Why? And why are Jews not allowed to defend themselves?
Ben-Itto: I agree with the first half of your question. In our world today it is indeed not only politically incorrect to incite, or even publish anything short of incitement, against any other people, as witnessed by the recent response to the publication of a few cartoons in a Danish newspaper. Yet the most blatant incitement against Jews seems to be protected under the umbrella of free speech. The Protocols are freely published around the world. New editions have recently been purchased in Moscow, in Istanbul, in Barcelona and in Denver Colorado, to give but a few examples. They were purchased in downtown big bookshops, as well as from stands that sell books in some cities.
New Arabic versions that include vile introductions, are annually published in one Moslem country or another, displayed in all Arab book fairs and sold in mainstream bookshops in Moslem countries, and also in Moslem bookshops in western capitals. Amazon sells the Protocols, admitting that it is a forgery, only because this fabricated document, published anonymously, is bound in the form of a book.
For a whole century this dangerous document was used not only to blame Jews but to actually incite to murdering them, first by the Russians, in the pogroms that raged in Russia at the beginning of the century, then by the Nazis who openly used the Protocols as a central theme in their propaganda and as a valid reason to stop the Jews from dominating the world by exterminating them, and now the same libel is spread not only by Moslem fundamentalists, not only by terrorist groups like the Hamas, the Hizbolla, and the president of Iran, but even by mainstream media in moderate Moslem and Arab countries, as well as the Palestinian authority.
You ask why Jews are not allowed to defend themselves.
I don’t think we should defend ourselves. We should just say in a voice loud and clear: Enough! Stop lying about us.
We should initiate a campaign to confront these lies by any tools available to us, using media, the law and any other legitimate tool. We should make the world aware of the fact that not only is there no “Jewish Conspiracy” to dominate the world, but spreading these lies diverts world opinion from the real dangers to world peace, and from the real conspirators who would divert attention from themselves by pointing at the Jews.
Nobody stops The Jews from confronting these libels. We simply have a record of ignoring them at our peril.
FP: I am not sure that only announcing in a loud voice that people should stop lying about them will somehow allow the Jewish people to prevail in the face of violent attack. Definitely the Jews must stand up and delegitimize the lies. But my point in this context is that there are forces, such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian terrorists, etc. who perpetrate genocide against Jews and are seeking to perpetrate a Final Solution against them. The Jews have to defend themselves in this context. And my point is that the world condemns them when they try to defend themselves. What is it exactly that you mean when you say you don’t think Jews should defend themselves? Are you saying that Israelis should not try to eliminate the terrorists, for instance, who are launching rockets into Israeli towns and cities to kill innocent civilians?
Ben-Itto: I must have misunderstood your question about Jews not being allowed to defend themselves. Our conversation was about the libels, about the incitement, and it is in this context that I said that Jews should not use defense tactics, as they always have. Denying the libel is not enough. We should initiate an offensive campaign to discredit the liars, to expose this conspiracy against us, to prove to the world how they are operating, and why.
I absolutely agree with you that Jews have every right to defend themselves. This right is well entrenched in international law, but when it comes to Israel it is interpreted in a discriminatory manner by a cynical world. Suicide bombers are described as “freedom fighters”, civilians who harbor terrorists in their homes are presented as innocent bystanders, soldiers who risk their lives in defense of their people are always described as aggressors if they wear Israeli uniforms.
A tiny country like Israel, surrounded by hostile enemies who never tire of attempts to destroy it, is accused of posing a threat to world peace.
What I tried to convey in this interview is that we should not limit ourselves to do actual battle in our defense. We must aggressively confront the ongoing brainwashing of millions, the poisoning of minds, the perversion of truth.
The Nazis’ “final solution” did not begin in the ghettos and in the death camps. The seed was sawn in Mein Kampf and in the systematic infiltration of Nazi theories and propaganda into the minds of a whole generation.
If we have not learned this lesson from the tragedies of the twentieth century, guns and missiles alone will not be enough to save us from the present day enemies.
FP: So why have so many Jewish people ignored the Protocols for so long?
Ben-Itto: The short answer to your question is that Jews have become so used to living with anti-Semitism that we accept it as a fact of life. It has always been there, and it will always be there, even some of my Israeli friends say.
Yes, we talk about it, we complain, we convene conferences, we write books and articles, we monitor anti-Semitic events and acts, we even publish statistics. But we don’t have a strategy, we never mounted a real effective campaign to eradicate this evil. It may even be too late.
Unfortunately the Protocols have been completely ignored by the Jewish People for a whole century. Published in every language around the world, they were not even translated into Hebrew. Jews always treated the Protocols as a bizarre joke, never bothered to pay them any attention. They were always perceived as one more item under the general umbrella of ant-Semitism, not as a separate tool that poses a real and present danger, far beyond the desecration of tombstones or even the burning of a synagogue, as reprehensible that these acts may be.
I speak to Jewish audiences on my book tours and am astounded at the degree of ignorance and unawareness concerning the Protocols. I must confess that although I was raised in Israel, very involved in Jewish matters, I was just as ignorant until I decided to investigate the truth about the Protocols.
FP: What is the psychology of Jews like Noam Chomsky who embrace organizations such as Hezbollah and their leaders such as Nasrallah?
Ben-Itto: This is a question I can’t answer. I am as puzzled as you are by this sad phenomenon. I can only say that, sadly, there have always been Jews who embraced our enemies. They are Jews by birth, but I don’t know what being Jewish means to them. You ask me what their psychology is. I’m afraid it would take a psychologist to answer your question.
FP: I think self-loathing might be part of the puzzle.
Hadassa Ben-Itto, thank you for joining us. And thank you so kindly for devoting your spirit and energy in life to fighting this malicious and evil lie. It was an honor to have spoken with you.
Ben-Itto: I thank you for inviting me and for giving me this opportunity to express my thoughts on this important issue.
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