THE LEADERS of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan startled observers last month when they initially condemned Hezbollah's attacks on Israel and failed to show solidarity with the Shiite terrorist group. Most surprised of all were ordinary Arabs, who took to the streets in protest. At anti-Israel rallies in places like Cairo and Amman, demonstrators chanted, "Where is Arab honor? Down with reactionary and treacherous Arab regimes!" The sentiment was echoed on Arab websites and seized on by extremist groups across the Sunni-Shiite divide.
No wonder many Arabs felt betrayed. Loathing for Israel and Jews is ingrained in a region where the official cultures demonize not only specific actions and policies of the state of Israel, but even its very existence. Several Arab governments provide their people cradle-to-grave indoctrination in raw anti-Semitism. Their education systems, government media, and state-financed clergy bombard citizens with the view that Jews must be hated and feared for theological, political, and social reasons.
Saudi Arabia's public schools, for example, instruct that Jews "obey the devil" and are those whom "God has cursed and with whom He is so angry that He will never again be satisfied." The Saudi edition of the Koran injects the phrase "such as the Jews" into the opening chapter, following the clause "those who have incurred your [God's] wrath."
Of all the anti-Jewish influences in the region, one of the most prevalent and potent is The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Disseminated with the support and official sanction of the governments of Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Palestine, and Syria, as well as Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, this work is used to shape the collective consciousness of Arab populations.
The Protocols is a century-old fabrication that purports to record the ma chinations of Jews conspiring to rule the world through treach ery, fraud, and violence. Its prose is childish and rambling, as in this excerpt, taken from the eleventh of the 24 protocols:
The goyim [non-Jews] are a flock of sheep, and we are their wolves. . . . For what purpose then have we invented this whole policy and insinuated it into the minds of the goys without giving them any chance to examine its underlying meaning? . . . It is this which has served as the basis for our organization of secret masonry which is not known to, and whose aims are not even so much as suspected by, these goy cattle, attracted by us into the 'show' army of Masonic Lodges in order to throw dust in the eyes of their fellows. God has given us, his chosen people, the power to scatter, and what to all appears to be our weakness, has proved to be our strength, and has now brought us to the threshold of sovereignty over all the world.
Adapted from an 1864 French satire of Napoleon III entitled A Dialogue in Hell between Machiavelli and Montes quieu, the text of The Protocols first appeared around the turn of the 20th century. Its authors, believed to be members of the Russian secret police, attempted to make it appear there was a Jewish plot to undermine the czar. The book's circulation in Russia at that time helped incite murderous pogroms.
Hitler then used The Protocols to indoctrinate Nazi youth. In 1924, his propaganda minister, Joseph Goeb bels, found the tract "modern" and useful, admitting in his diary that he believed in "the intrinsic but not the factual truth of The Protocols."
The Protocols has been repeatedly discredited in Europe, where it originated, including by the London Times, a Swiss court, and an official Russian investigation. In 1964, the Senate Judiciary Committee looked into The Protocols and found it to be a hoax, calling it "crude and vicious nonsense."
Yet Middle Eastern governments have revived The Protocols for their own purposes.
Saudi public high schools now teach The Protocols as historical fact. A tenth grade textbook instructs that "Jews have tried to deny them but there are many proofs of their vera city." It summarizes the purported Jewish conspiracy as aiming to:
1. Undermine the foundation of the existing international community and its systems to enable Zionism to gain sole control over the world. 2. Eliminate Christian na tionalities, religions, and nations in particular. 3. Work to increase the corruption of existing governments in Europe. Zionism believes in the corruption and collapse of these governments. 4. Gain control over the means of publication, propaganda, and newspapers; use gold to incite unrest; and exploit people's desires and spread depravity.
The Sunni extremist group Hamas includes a discussion of The Protocols in its charter: