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|Protocols of Zion, The
If I told you that Jayson Blair’s plagiarized and fabricated contributions to the New York Times would a century later be seen as a call to arms for millions of people who mistook them for truth, you’d probably ask what I had been smoking and if I could help you score some. Sadly, a situation that’s just as absurd and far more dangerous is already taking place.The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a document that first surfaced in 1898 and purports to be a secret plot by the Jews to enslave the rest of the planet. It’s been translated into multiple languages, sold in Wal-Marts and inspired prominent leaders as diverse as Henry Ford, Adolf Hitler and former Malaysian Primer Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
"Another inconvenient truth about a different type of global warming."
The enormous impact The Protocols have had is inversely proportional to its authenticity. It has none.
It was actually copied, almost word for word, from a philosophical French text, A Conversation in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu by Maurice Joly from 1864.
Marc Levin’s new documentary “Protocols of Zion” doesn’t spend that much time directly debunking the document itself. This may have something to do with the fact that the Protocols collapse after rudimentary examination.
Levin notes how many of the proponents of the current war in Iraq like Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and Richard Perle are Jews, but he then presents hordes of people protesting the same war in the middle of New York oppose the same war, many of whom are also Jews. If a conspiracy like the one described in The Protocols were happening, wouldn’t all these folks agree?
While Levin makes off-handed observations throughout the documentary, his real concern is the mindset that leads people to fervently believe this nonsense. As he talks with the believers, they have an eerie way of bending reality to meet their beliefs. Encountering these folks is simultaneously creepy and hilarious.
Levin is one gutsy fellow because he’s willing to go right up to the leaders of some of these hate groups to try and understand their logic.
When Shawn Walker, the head of the white supremacist National Alliance, laments the hold Jews have on the mass media, he claims to Levin that Rupert Murdoch is a Jew, and that explains how the Australian-born mogul has risen to such great power. Walker is, of course, completely wrong and is unwilling to let the truth get in the way of a convenient explanation.
One anti-Semite even claims that former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani is Jewish simply because of the first syllable of his surname. I blinked a couple of times when I heard that.
Levin frames the film around his own Jewish upbringing and how he and his father, the late TV producer Al Levin, each had radically different experiences with discrimination.
Levin’s decision to personalize “Protocols of Zion” makes the film seem rambling. The younger Levin discusses how anti-Semitism played a role in the selling of “The Passion of the Christ.” He has some interesting points (listening to some of the things Mel Gibson and his father say about the Holocaust are disturbing).
But it’s more intriguing to watch Levin follow anti-Semitic rumors from their source. He discovers that ludicrous myth that Jews were spared from the attacks of September 11 originated from how a rabbi had said that he had received 4,000 calls from Europe, wondering if their New York relatives had survived. Soon a simple statistic morphs into a malicious lie.
Levin’s greatest achievement in this film is in his willingness to understand how people can be blinded by hatred. In one scene, he and an Arab-American friend sit and talk about how both of their lives have been changed by September 11.
In one encounter with some Palestinian-American men, Levin lets them tell their stories in a rather bellicose manner. When one in a suit starts yelling at the crew, the director keeps the camera rolling so the man can make some legitimate complaints about how Arabs are depicted in the press.
The DVD’s extras are short but worth catching. For example, Levin recalls his encounter with a bigoted Egyptian-born cab driver better in the Q&A segment than he does in the film itself.
There’s also a delightful interview with the late-great comic book author Will Eisner about his final book The Plot: The Secret Story of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which is required reading if you want to understand how people have been duped all these years.No matter how well Levin had made this film, there will still be those who will accept the Protocols and other bogus documents as fact. Still, it’s reassuring to know that somebody has the courage to challenge the lies and to examine why they’ve been so seductive.
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originally posted: 07/20/06 21:05:31
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