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< Q16.3 TOC Q16.5 >

Question 16.4:
How do I counter antisemitic postings such as the infamous "Protocols"?

Answer:

A good starting point is the web page <http://www.igc.apc.org/ddickerson/protocols.html>. This site contains a number of links with information on how to counter the protocols.

Another page that might be of use is http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Cyprus/8815/. This Web site provides refutations to various alleged quotes from the Talmud which are distributed by anti-Semites as well as refutations of other anti-Semitic claims.

In a related issue, there is an urban legend circulating about Barnes and Noble stocking the Protocols as a Jewish book. Here is a refutation of that legend, from the fellow who started the protest, Rabbi Eric Silver:

March 1999

This will be (I hope) my final statement on the Barnes and Noble issue, and because of its content, I would ask that it be given the widest possible distribution. (I probably don't need to say that. My e-mail box, my fax lines and my telephone have been jammed for days.

As many of you know, some weeks ago I contacted Barnes and Noble over the fact that they were carrying "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion" under the rubric of "Judaica" (yes and no-depending upon how and where one looked on the net and in the retail stores,) and that their web site contained a review by a person purporting to be a university professor, attesting to the historicity of the book and claiming that many of the dire predictions and plots in the book were already coming to fruition. Barnes and Noble told me that they saw it as their mission to carry every title in print, cited the First Amendment, and you can guess the rest, so I wrote an e-mail describing the situation, sending it out to the various lists on which I am a subscriber. Friday afternoon I received a phone call from Gus Carlson who heads up the Communications and Customer Relations Department at Barnes and Noble, and Laura Dawson who manages the company's data base for the on-line and retail stores. They had just gotten off the phone after a session with ADL. That call was followed by a phone call from Tom Simon, Vice President of Content Development at the company. They deeply regretted the earlier response I had received, and both wanted to assure me that at no time did any anti-Semitic intent color Barnes and Noble's actions in this matter. I think they are to be absolutely believed on this score. This company carries many books, and each book has its adherents and its detractors. The company's initial response to me was to cite First Amendment freedoms, and indicate that they would carry even controversial books. I would be the first to agree with that position. "Protocols," however, is in a different category altogether, and the three B&N executives with whom I spoke all agree with that. They made plain to me that the company was not aware of the book's true nature at the outset of all this brouhaha, and that had they been, the book would have been classified differently. They also assured me that new company policy would ensure that reviews would be carefully screened to ensure that a spurious review does not pop up on their web site.

A bit of clarification is in order: very often a book will be classified by its distributor, and Barnes and Noble will accept the classification. An out of print version of "Protocols" that carries the label "Judaica" will be classified that way on the Internet site because no one at B&N knows any different. That's a far cry from malice. Similarly, if it finds its way onto a shelf in a retail store, there are obvious reasons why the manager would place it in the Judaica area. The title itself is misleading, and pity the poor store manager who obviously doesn't have the time to read every single book in the store.

I think we're done with this issue, and in the best possible way. Please-don't boycott Barnes and Noble. They don't deserve it. They are honest book merchants who go out of their way to provide the reading public with the best in books and service. At no time in any of this was there even a scintilla of malicious intent. Occasionally even a good company will slip up, but once B&N became aware of the book's true nature, they acted with alacrity. The fake review was pulled, and the book is being appropriately identified. They have taken steps to ensure that spurious reviews don't pop up on any book that might be controversial, and they have also taken steps to prevent a vendor from classifying a book under a particular heading (i.e., Judaica,) without that classification coming under B&N's scrutiny. Moreover, Mr. Simon has asked me to prepare a review of "Protocols" and he will post it on the web site as the first review. He also proposed that I include URL's to sites that would advise readers about the nature of propaganda, hate literature, and so forth. Lastly, he advised me that the company is considering setting up a new classification called "propaganda," "hate literature," or something like that. That would ensure that hate literature (sic!) doesn't inadvertently pop up in the wrong section. I want to commend Barnes and Noble for cleaning up their own act, and I also want to commend the many of you out there who have taken the time to let B&N know of your concern. More than anything else, it proves that this is a company that listens to its customers, and that's what good business is all about.

Rabbi Eric A. Silver

Similar comments were raised about Amazon.com, which prompted the ADL to raise the issue to Amazon's corporate office. Here is the result, as documented by the ADL at http://www.adl.org/frames/front%5Fprotocols%5Fzion.html:

New York, NY, March 28, 2000…

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said today that Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com have agreed to prominently place on their Web sites ADL’s statement that The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion is an anti-Semitic Czarist forgery. ADL said the online booksellers would state that they do not endorse the views expressed in the book or the publisher’s description should one appear, which Amazon.com has had instituted for some time. Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:

We are pleased that Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com have responded positively to our concerns and those of the public, and have instituted ways to alert their customers to the fact that the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion is a forgery. Since we are not in the business of banning books, no matter how reprehensible they may be, we sought and achieved the best solution to inform book buyers. Both Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com have demonstrated corporate responsibility and we commend them for it.

Following is ADL’s statement on the Protocols which will appear on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com:

"From the Anti-Defamation League: The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, circulated by the Czarist secret police at the turn of the 20th century, is plainly and simply a plagiarized forgery. The Protocols has been a major weapon in the arsenals of anti-Semites around the world, republished and circulated by individuals, hate groups and governments to convince the gullible as well as the bigoted that Jews have schemed and plotted to take over the world."

In addition, Barnes and Noble bookstores will no longer shelve The Protocols under "Judaica," but under "World History."


The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

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