Skip to 0 minutes and 0 secondsThroughout this week we have seen how antisemitism in the Arab and Islamic world developed as a product of modernity and of a state of crisis in Middle Eastern societies, dating from the 19th century. We discussed the unique way in which antisemitism changed and developed in this sphere, and how major events, such as the establishment of the State of Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict, affected it. We have also seen how the rise of Islamism brought with it a particularly deadly form of antisemitism and anti-Westernism, ingraining these hatreds with a strong religious character.

Skip to 0 minutes and 34 secondsOne of the most prominent contemporary anti-Jewish motifs present in antisemitic discourse in the Arab and Islamic world is that of a global Jewish or Zionist conspiracy, hell bent on controlling the world and bringing about the destruction of Islam. In order to spread this claim, the fabricated text, familiar to us from the European sphere, is used - The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. One of the major things of antisemitism is the usage of the Protocols of the elders of Zion. In fact, they were already translated in the mid 1920s again by Christians. As I said many of the European motifs were imported by Christians to the Middle East. And this was the first, one of the things.

Skip to 1 minute and 28 secondsAnd somehow they were incorporated really seamlessly in the Arab discourse. The Protocols of the elders of Zion was a reflection of what was going on In Europe and especially in Russia at the time. But here this tract is kind of implanted in the Middle East and accepted as a real truth, as an authentic document. Not only that. Some of the writers even thought that it is promoted by Jews themselves in order to show how powerful they are. Those promoting antisemitism in the Arab and Islamic world today, especially Islamists, claim that the perception of the Jews as a global conspiratorial threat to Islam is rooted in the Islamic texts and history.

Skip to 2 minutes and 22 secondsHowever, we have already seen how this is contrary to the historical complexity of the matter. Rather, this idea is a clear example of the imported antisemitic discourse that entered the Muslim sphere from Europe, in the early 20th century. The mere fact that those advancing these claims have to rely on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an imported text, as a foundation for their conspiratorial accusations goes to show how foreign they were to the Muslim world. Over the years the Protocols and the claim of the Jewish and Zionist conspiracy have gained popularity in the Arab and Islamic word. Why is this so? Muslims find themselves in a strange new world which they cannot comprehend.

Skip to 3 minutes and 3 secondsThey cannot understand what was the cause of these - you can say - tragedies, disasters and defeats. And then came the Protocols and gave a perfect explanation. It is all the result of aJewish conspiracy. Since the Arab world and since the Muslim world continue to suffer crises and defeats culminating in the establishment of the State of Israel and so on, the need for this comprehensive explanation of everything that went wrong in the world is much greater. And therefore, the Protocols have become an extremely popular text in the Muslim world.

Skip to 3 minutes and 39 secondsSo far we have more than 59 editions of translations to Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Urdu and other languages that Muslims use and you can say the Protocols have become an explanation - it is used by a huge variety of writers, speakers in every media. You can find them in books, in newspaper articles, so-called scholarly articles and journals, in the internet blogs, on YouTube, sermons you name it. The Protocols are everywhere and I would say probably every day the Protocols are cited several times by various spokesmen or writers everywhere in the Middle East. The Protocols have a very strong influence on the Arab discourse again especially in view of the predicaments of the Arab world.

Skip to 4 minutes and 42 secondsThe Protocols gave some kind of explanation - the Jews are not only a vicious but an omnipotent power that controls everything. And this is why we kind of cannot stand against them. If Europe could not stand against them, who are we that we can fight such a huge and omnipotent power? The Jews are controlling economy. Jews control media. Jews control finance. All these elements became part of the discourse and of course the fact that Jews are living in different parts of the world gives them a kind of network in which they can impose their ambitions, - you know - and pursue their ambitions. Unfortunately, the Protocols are very much alive in the Arab discourse.

Skip to 5 minutes and 53 secondsAnd they see this is why, one of the reasons they see every circumstance and every development or negative I would say development as part of the same conspiratorial network.

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion

Dr. Esther Webman, Prof. Meir Litvak

One of the most prominent contemporary anti-Jewish motifs present in antisemitic discourse in the Arab and Islamic world is that of a global Jewish or Zionist conspiracy, hell bent on controlling the world and bringing about the destruction of Islam. In order to spread this claim, the fabricated text, familiar to us from the European sphere is used - the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This text was also imported to this sphere, initially by Christians.

What role do the Protocols of the Elders of Zion play in the antisemitic discourse found in this sphere?


  • Bali, Rifat N., “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in Turkey,” in Esther Webman, ed., The Global Impact of the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ (London: Routledge, 2011), pp. 220 - 228.

  • Rahimiyan, Orly R., “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in Iranian Political and Cultural Discourse,” in Esther Webman, ed., The Global Impact of the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ (London: Routledge, 2011), pp. 196 - 219.

  • Webman, Esther, “Adoption of the Protocols in the Arab Discourse on the Arab-Israeli Conflict, Zionism, and the Jews,” in Esther Webman, ed., The Global Impact of the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ (London: Routledge, 2011), pp. 175 - 195.

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Antisemitism: From Its Origins to the Present

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