The second Lebanon war has drawn to a close, and criticism is coming from every direction: We fell asleep on guard duty, we underestimated the opponent's power, we did not prepare properly, we were overconfident, we have sinned in arrogance and false promises to our allies overseas and to the citizens of Israel, we have deluded ourselves in thinking the existence of the State of Israel ensures the future of the Jewish people, that the old times are gone, never to return. A popular cry rises for an inquiry commission, and for heads to roll.
Had I been called forth for such a commission, I would have testified about a failure that has existed for many years, taboo and undiscussed, but just as relevant to this war. Indeed we were asleep on guard duty when we failed to develop an effective strategy against another lethal weapon, one just as dangerous as the rockets and missiles. We repeatedly ask ourselves how the entire Muslim world has been incited against us, both their leaders and the street, even those who are not involved in the Palestinian conflict and have little concern for the Palestinians' destiny. Why do the masses flood the streets calling for our destruction? Is it a call to arms to defend Arab honor? And why do human rights organizations, whose prescribed agendas do not include a struggle against the Jewish people and the State of Israel, join in?
A senior American diplomat once told me: "I can't believe this is happening to the Jewish people once again. You have not learned your lesson. Had you thoroughly read 'Mein Kampf,' you would have known what to expect. Again the writing is on the wall and you are looking away. Wars do not begin on battlefields. Read the UNESCO treaty that declares, 'Wars start in the minds of people.'"
For a hundred years now, the world has been exposed to a dangerous lie accusing us of all humanity's downfalls, a claim that our very existence threatens world peace. This is the famous "Jewish conspiracy" whose objective is world domination, and is documented with great detail in the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," published in every language in millions of copies. We haven't read it, or even bothered translating it into Hebrew.
Since World War II, we have not bothered to trace the methodical mind poisoning of hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world who are being told that Jews pose an existential threat. The facts are apparent, evident in newspapers, studies and statistics. We have seen it all but have done nothing. We have tired of dealing with haters of Israel, have despaired of denying the tales, have become complacent, have not appreciated the danger and failed to look for ways of dealing with it.
It is impossible to recruit entire nations, hundred of millions of people, in a struggle to destroy Israel and the Jews other than with a methodical long-term propaganda campaign. This time the Muslim world, which has picked up the Nazi torch, has joined the cause and set for itself the goal of destroying our nation and people. And it says so openly, in public speeches by the president of a United Nations member country, in constitutions such as Hamas', in sermons at mosques.
The protocols' wording does not change, but each one of the thousands of editions is accompanied by a forward explaining how the Jewish plan is in action, here and now. Thus a new forward was drafted in response to the Sept. 11 attacks, the war in Iraq, and countless other events that have been blamed on the Jews. The Arabic editions, whether printed in Iran, Syria or Egypt, are also distributed in Muslim communities in the West. They are featured in book fairs and sold discounted at shops.
In recent years, countries including Egypt, Syria and Qatar have produced television series based on the protocols and broadcast them throughout the Arab world during Ramadan, when the families come together to break the fast. Many popular soap operas, which target audiences of all ages, perpetuate the claim of a criminal Jewish conspiracy to take over the world.
The Muslim world believes in this tale, even though there are a few intellectuals who halfheartedly admit the protocols could have been a forgery. Only recently I happened to meet an American doctor of Lebanese Christian descent at a hospital in the United States. When I asked him whether he is familiar with the protocols, he replied that he has the book at home, knows it well and indeed believes it. It is part of our culture, he said in perfect English, with an American accent and a straight face.
The Arab editions contain completely delusional, vehement, slandering forwards, describing the entire history of the world as an expression of the Jewish diabolical plan, accompanied by horrible caricatures (which are allowed, so it seems, as long as they do not make fun of Muslims). These types of editions are not lacking in the West, but they are sold alongside versions targeting an educated audience. This includes the edition printed in the U.S. in 2004, which is sold in respectable book stores.
Laid before me is such a book. It does not contain only the original Protocols, but also many documents corroborating the conspiracy story. The book deals in an "in-depth" manner with what is known as the "Jewish problem", while giving much credit to Jews as being wise, intelligent, Nobel prize winners, a distinguished nation, and therefore so dangerous to the world. The book even deals with the issue of forgery. The London Times, the first to expose the forgery in 1921, is called part of the Jewish conspiracy. Others who have exposed the forgery, among them a Russian princess and a French theologist, are portrayed as previously convicted felons.
The Jewish nation's intelligence services, which thoroughly follow admonitions of anti-Semitism, cannot be blamed. There are faculties and research institutes, conventions and publications, even internet Web sites following the publications in Arab countries. But apart from a few fanatic devotees, there is no real awareness of the danger. There is no strategic plan for dealing with it.
The political correctness guiding today's public discourse forbids saying anything against non-Jews, even when these things are true. It is not all Muslims, it is not the Koran, announcers must add every time they inform the world of yet another terrorist attack perpetrated by Muslims. If a similar protocols were to be published about Muslims, or any other minority or racial group, the streets would have been ablaze, as they were over a few measly caricatures in a Danish newspaper.
When the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, publicly announces his intent to destroy us, we do not ask ourselves why, along with the rockets and nuclear weapons, he orders the printing and distribution of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion." His emissaries had the audacity to display an English translation of the Protocols at the Iranian stand of the world fair in Frankfurt.
And the Jewish world is silent - for a hundred years, and now as well.
Jews do not burn embassies, we do not send inflamed masses to the streets, but this does not mean we are excused from finding alternatives. And there are alternatives.
The conspiracy against the Jewish people - the spreading of an evil tale in order to prepare for another extermination of the Jews - must be dramatically exposed.
Send the distributors of these lies to flood the world's courts, as defendants in criminal lawsuits, since today most countries have laws forbidding incitement against religious, national or ethnic groups.
We must engage in a legal, political, public and media battle in order to raise a clear and coherent voice: Enough, stop slandering us!
The writer is a retired judge, author of the book "The Lie that Wouldn't Die: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion."
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now