It is a through-line in almost every white supremacist ideology and conspiracy narrative the world over. It has been called slander and a lie. It has been the subject of government commissions and investigative journalism. It is the century old myth of a secret Jewish conspiracy to rule the world, and it is now more pernicious, insidious, and far reaching than ever.
Hosted by the Center for Jewish Civilization at Georgetown University on April 24th and 25th 2023, the symposium will mark the 120th anniversary of the first printing of The Protocols. For the first time in history, students, policymakers, practitioners, scholars, and concerned citizens will come together in a two-day conference to discuss not just The Protocols, but also the specific role of antisemitic propaganda and conspiracy narratives within the ideologies and actions of violent extremist movements around the world. It will also be the first cross-disciplinary, cross-generational meeting of scholars of The Protocols in more than a decade.
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is arguably the modern era’s most propagated and enduring conspiracy narrative. From Russia and Germany to North America, South America, Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa, The Protocols has transcended continents and cultures, time periods, and contexts.
In Germany in the 1920s, Adolf Hitler incorporated The Protocols into his infamous antisemitic text, Mein Kampf, and later, in the 1930s, his National Socialist Party used The Protocols as propaganda to mobilize supporters, indoctrinate school children, and justify the Holocaust. In America, the powerful industrialist and carmaker Henry Ford spread the poison of The Protocols in a series of newspaper articles titled “The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem,” which he later published as a four-volume book.
In Japan in the 1980s, public intellectuals lauded and studied The Protocols as a blueprint for world domination, while in the 1990s in Egypt, the authoritarian government of Hosni Mubarak ran a 41-part documentary on the Jewish conspiracy on national television.
A decade later in Iran, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei employed the themes of The Protocols in radio and television broadcasts.
The text has been translated into German, French, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, and Farsi — at least 20 languages all told. It is not surprising then that scholar Norman Cohn called the The Protocols "probably the most widely distributed book in the world after the Bible.”
This panel will look at how the Protocols fits into the larger study of antisemitism and hate. What defines antisemitism? How do we differentiate between antisemitism vs. anti-Zionism? What are the similarities and differences between antisemitism and other forms of prejudice?
Moderator: Bruce Hoffman
Lunch begins at 12:15
Remarks begin at 12:30
Mike Rothschild, author of “Jewish Space Lasers: The Rothschilds and 200 Years of Conspiracy”
This panel will trace the origins and historic propagation of the Protocols globally and the cross-pollination of ideas and narratives. It will also look at its adaptations and popularity in countries with small or no Jewish population.
Moderator: Emily Blout
Moderator: Anna Sommer
This panel will problematize the enduring frame of the conspiratorial Jew.
This panel will talk about the acceleration of conspiracy antisemitism on the internet, social media, gaming, and the dark web.
Moderator: Patrick Burkart, Texas A&M University
This roundtable will look at the Jewish community’s response to rampant antisemitism in America.
Moderator: Marie Harf, Georgetown University
Lunch begins at 12:00
Overcoming Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism: The Abraham Accords 12:15 – 1:15
Moderator: Bruce Hoffman
This panel will consider the tactical and strategic use of anti-Jewish propaganda and conspiracy narratives by state and non-state actors and the implications for national security. It will ask the question: how do democratic societies weather periods of intense violence against Jews and other minorities? Or put another way, what does the astronomical increase in antisemitism mean for the fate of liberal democracy?
Moderator: Vlad Khaykin
This panel will consider the double-edged sword of networked communication technology, where powerful platforms have enabled and inspired communication, collaboration, and creation unimaginable just a decade ago. Yet such technology has also inspired and enabled the creation and spread of antisemitic messages and conspiracy theories, too often with deadly ends. While the first panel in the series looked at the problem, this panel will look at how technologists, social scientists, and company leaders are working to solve it.
Moderator: Dan Byman