The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 48.0°F | Overcast

Film Review **: ‘Protocols’ an Eye-Opener to American Anti-Semitism

Jewish Director Challenges Separatist Views

By Yong-yi Zhu
STAFF WRITER

Protocols of Zion

Directed by Marc Levin

Think Film

Not Rated

Opened Oct. 21, 2005

Was there a major Jewish plot to bomb the twin towers on September 11? Were there thousands of Jews who did not die because they were warned not to go to work that day? Is there really a conspiracy by the Jews that began at the start of the twentieth century that foretells their rise to world domination?

These are the questions that director Marc Levin sought to discredit in his documentary, “Protocols of Zion.” In a series of vignettes that focus primarily on anti-Semitism and the overarching problem of the distrust of Jews in America, Levin presents a collage of the extremists who believe in the “Protocols” and some of the reasons they might adopt such a radical philosophy.

“The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” is a piece of apocrypha, supposedly documenting a plot by the Jews to take over the world. It lists a series of protocols, consisting of ways the Jews are superior to other people and how they might take advantage of this power. All of the protocols are outrageous in their message, and most reasonable people would not believe them. It is said that this book was written at the turn of the century by a group of Zionist elders. However, the truth is that the “Protocols” were written by anti-Semites who wanted to use this book to create an anti-Jew movement. Hitler, for example, used the “Protocols” during World War II to implicate the Jews in all of their purported wrongdoings.

For this movie, the director obtained a wide-ranging sample of believers, from the most steadfast of separatists to the more moderate. Take for example the National Alliance, an organization that cultivates separatist beliefs. Levin traveled to West Virginia to interview the leader of that organization. He discovered that the group sells all sorts of Nazi materials, from the “Protocols” to Swastika flags. In fact, the leader admitted to having gone to Auschwitz and purchased beer there, adding that the camp is now more of a tourist site than a memorial. This simple incident shows the lack of respect some people have, even today, for the Holocaust and the millions that died in the tragedy.

When Levin went to a street corner in New York and asked several African Americans about their views on the September 11 tragedies, he received shocking responses. One person proclaimed that of course the Jews knew about it beforehand. In fact, he said that the whole world is being run by Jews and we needn’t look further than Pepsi cans for the evidence. To him and many others, Pepsi is a conspiracy that stands for “Pay Every Penny to Save Israel.” Outrageous as it may sound, there are many who believe in this. Perhaps ignorance among these people is propagated by the lack of genuine information available.

In fact, according to Levin, even the Jews in Hollywood are hesitant to discuss the issues of their religion. Before the release of “The Passion of the Christ,” he called up Larry David and Rob Schneider, two prominent Jews in show business, to set up a lunch with them and discuss how the movie portrays and deals with the themes of Judaism. Neither of them were willing to partake in this discussion. It was almost as though they were afraid to publicize their views, choosing instead to hide their religious beliefs. Without public exposure, the problem remains concealed and people are left unaware of the issues.

Not until “Protocols of Zion” did I realize that massive separatist movements and anti-Semitism abound in the United States. Through this series of vignettes, Levin is able to paint a complete picture of this problem, which plagues many parts of this country today. This enlightening movie helps to open the audience’s eyes to major current political and social issues of which most are ignorant. It is an excellent movie to watch to learn more about anti-Semitism — but be warned, the director does not offer any solutions to mitigate this hatred. The audience is thus faced with a sense of hopelessness, feeling that because this has been going on for the last hundred years, it is destined to continue and that perhaps even their own benevolent acts will have little impact on a problem of such a grand scale.