Follow-up on 'The Paterson Protocols'

For further coverage, see:

On Nov. 7, James Zogby responded:

1. I, of course, I find the "Protocols" to be nothing more than repugnant anti-Semitic trash.

2. We informed the editor of the Arab Voice that this is our view, and that including such material in his paper was wrong. The editor told us that he did not "serialize" the "Protocols." He said that he published one excerpt, one time (Aug. 12, 2002). This does not make it right, but it is nevertheless useful information. The editor also informed us that he is publishing an editorial that makes it clear that the paper does not endorse the "Protocols," and that he agrees that it is fraudulent and anti-Semitic.

3. For the record: I am not a "featured writer," whatever that means. My weekly column is syndicated throughout the Middle East. I do not have a syndication arrangement with any papers here in the US, although a number of local community papers apparently pick up my article and run it.

4. I have spent my life fighting anti-Semitism and have done so both here in the US and in the Arab World. I deeply resent the fact that Mr. Pipes and the New York Post throw me into the middle of this issue in a clear effort to besmirch my name and make me jump through hoops to clear it.

5. Pipes and the New York Post have defamed me. I find their anti-Arab obsession to be quite troubling and hurtful, but that's another story. Why not write to them.

On Nov. 8, the Council on American-Islamic Relations responded with this weak comment: "Just as we ask others to condemn anti-Muslim rhetoric by right-wing, evangelical or pro-Israel commentators, we must challenge those who would fan the flames of anti-Semitism." Note the different verbs - "condemn" and "challenge." Unfortunately, the UPI headline writer missed Hooper's subtlety and titled this news item "Muslims condemn anti-Semitic article."

Publisher won't back down on Protocols
Amy Sara Clark
New Jersey Jewish Standard (Teaneck)
November 15, 2002

PATERSON - The editor and publisher of the Arabic-language newspaper that has been publishing excerpts from "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" continued to defend his decision in an editorial this week.

In the Nov. 9 issue of the Paterson weekly, Arab Voice editor and publisher Walid Rabah wrote that "there have been many objective studies written about 'The Protocols' and not all of the authors agree that it is historically false." He added that "some major writers in the Arab nation accept the truth of the book." His words, written in Arabic, were translated for this newspaper by Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, who first publicized the paper's printing of the Protocols in his weekly column. That column appeared in the New York Post and the Jerusalem Post, as well as in The Jewish Standard. Rabah did not say anywhere in his editorial that the book is a forgery, Pipes said on Wednesday.

The tabloid is sold for 35 cents on some newsstands here. It is written entirely in Arabic except for the masthead and a few of the advertisements. Waheed Khalid, president of the Dar-ul Islah Mosque in Teaneck, said that the paper is well read and respected in the Muslim community. According to Shai Goldstein, New Jersey regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, the paper has been publishing since 1993 and has a circulation of between 25,000 and 50,000.

Like most community newspapers, it includes advertisements from local retail stores, beauty salons, and restaurants. (These advertise shawarma and shish kebab.) Arab doctors, travel agents, and accountants advertise their services and full-page ads announce the availability of cheap phone cards to the Middle East. It also includes political cartoons, syndicated national and international Muslim columnists, and letters to the editor.

In August, the Arab Voice first began printing excerpts of the Protocols, a late 19th-century forgery purporting to record a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world. In the Nov. 9 editorial, Rabah claimed that the newspaper printed the introduction to the Protocols in only one edition and that he never said that it is true. But Pipes said that the Sept. 28 issue ran the 11th and 12th of the 24 protocols - chapters - and Goldstein, New Jersey regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, discovered that the Oct. 12 edition contained the 15th protocol.

Historians have long ago dismissed the Protocols as a hoax designed to buttress anti-Semitic hatred. But despite its refutation, the tract has been widely published around the world and was cited by Hitler and many others to justify killing Jews. According to Pipes, there are more translations and editions of the Protocols in Arabic than in any other language. It is still well-read today, and this month Egypt is broadcasting "Horseman Without a Horse," a 40-part mini-series based on the book.

Rabah did not return repeated phone calls, although Abed Rahman, a graphic designer at the Arab Voice, answered the phone on Wednesday and said, "We receive a hundred phone calls a day from newspapers, but he is not planning to talk to anyone right now."

News of the publication of parts of the Protocols was met with dismay by many leaders of the area's Jewish and Christian communities.

"Whether it's Amiri Baraka as poet laureate or this paper in Paterson, it underscores that New Jersey is not immune from the global anti-Semitism that has spread from the Arab world to Europe and is also affecting us here," said the ADL's Goldstein on Wednesday. "It's all interconnected. The anti-Semitism that occurs in Egypt has a direct impact from Clifton to Cherry Hill." Joy Kurland, director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Appeal Federation of Bergen County & North Hudson called the publication of the Protocols "horrific."

"It's virulently anti-Semitic," she said, "and I would hope that they would have the good sense to not publish it."

Father Donald T. Sheehan of St. Matthew's Church in Ridgefield, a member of the Bergen County Interfaith Brotherhood-Sisterhood Committee, said that "anything that is printed to create misinformation, to establish a caricature that is untrue, is lamentable. What's the point of showing it in a time of great tension? Is this a work of literature? I think not." The Rev. Dr. Albert T. Rowe of Calvary Baptist Church in Paterson said, "I think that anyone who would read the Protocols would know it's a lie. And I think that the editor was totally irresponsible to print a lie. The freedom of the press doesn't give you the right to print lies. It's like shouting fire in a crowded movie house. If you print something that you think is wrong there should be some kind of punishment.

"I don't want to get into this controversy," he added, "but I know a lie when I hear one."

But Waheed Khalid, president of the Dar-ul Islah Mosque in Teaneck, defended Rabah's decision to print the excerpts. "It's a paper and they obviously have the right to print whatever they feel like," he said on Wednesday, adding that it is "what is printed in other magazines" that he "has a problem with." Similarly, Khalid said he has no problem with Egypt's airing of the dramatization of the Protocols. "They have the right to show it and I think it is news and it is quite interesting to know what it says."

Khalid added that the Arab Voice has a large readership and that the publication of the Protocols has been read by many in his community. He said that initially people wondered why it took so long for the Protocols to come out, but then they concluded its publication was delayed because there is "so little in the U.S. that is printed that is anti-Jewish."

Khalid said that while he heard one person say that the Protocols "didn't seem genuine," most people seemed to either believe the book was true or wonder whether it could be. Khalid said that he did not want "to make any comment about the authenticity" of the book.

Asked if there is anti-Semitic sentiment in his community, Khalid replied that there was plenty of anti-Israel sentiment, but that anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment "have been so confused that you can't draw the line."

Hussein Ibish, communications director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination committee, said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C., on Monday that he did not know whether the Arab Voice was printing the Protocols, but "if it's true and if they didn't do it with a standard disclaimer, that would be very wrong and very unfortunate."

But he added that it would also be "part and parcel of a generalized trend of Arabs and pro-Israel Jews, both in Middle East and the U.S., to let their anger get the better of them and to lead them beyond anger to hatred. "If you want to find examples of this in the American Jewish press all you have to do is go to on any day. You'll see that their bread and butter is inciting anti-Arab sentiment." He added that "every single Israeli leader has made anti-Arab comments.

"The principal tactic of both Israelis and the Palestinians has been to murder each other's civilians. So of course people of both sides are outraged. But it's not reasonable to translate that into hatred and believing in racist mythology. This is the unfortunate, usual accompaniment to bitter conflict," he said. "It's a very depressing thing on both sides of the divide." It had been hoped that Rabah was planning to acknowledge the falsity of the Protocols in his Nov. 9 editorial. But when the column came out, Jewish leaders were disappointed.

"It's completely inadequate," said Pipes. "It does not address the issue of fabrication. It does not acknowledge the role that the Protocols have played in anti-Semitism in the 20th century and it contains historical factual mistakes." He noted that the Nov. 9 editorial claimed that the Protocols was written 200 years ago.

Goldstein said on Wednesday that his office had not had time to thoroughly translate the editorial but, "based on conflicting statements that the editor has made it would not be surprising if the alleged apology added insult to injury.

"There appear to be a number of 'qualifiers' in the apology that in essence make it a non-apology," he said. "The publisher must release every publication from August through November and take a full-page ad in a variety of Arab and Jewish publications acknowledging that what he did was to publish anti-Semitic/anti-Zionist lies that have led to the murder of millions of Jews."