A RUMOR ABOUT THE JEWS by Stephen Eric Bronner


Reflections on Anti-Semitism and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion
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A coherent treatment of a complex issue and its most significant secular document.

Before discussing the influence of ``The Protocols'' and commenting on selections, Bronner (Political Science and Comparative Literature/Rutgers; Moments of Decision: Political History and the Crises of Radicalism, not reviewed) traces the history of ``Judeophobia'' from the time that Judaism, not Jews, was the enemy. To pagan rivals, the Jews’ faith was despised for the arrogance of such monotheism. Economic resentment both predated and postdated Christianity, but envy would not target poorer Jews. Bronner sees Christian antiSemitism as the third and most dangerous wave of prejudice. In the Gospels all Jews, even the secular or poor, were demonized. Jews were inherently evil, eternally guilty Christ killers befitting the satanic snake stealthily squeezing the world, in the parlance of ``The Protocols''—a forgery by the czarist police in which a cabal of powerful Jews conspire to economically, politically, and culturally supplant Christian civilization. Both this tract and later Nazi ideology are secular, yet Bronner demonstrates that their satanic metaphors are as blatant as the vitriol of Martin Luther, and that “The Protocols'' infuse the realistic fears of losers in the march to democratic freedoms and modernity with the paranoid fantasies of religious myths. ``Hitler considered the logic of the `Protocols' his own . . . the Jews had declared war on him”; he knew, Bronner contends, the Jews were the agents of progress. From Henry Ford to Ezra Pound, from many Arab newspapers to skinhead Web sites, Bronner sees the letter and spirit of ``The Protocols'' living on. Perhaps out of fairness, he levels some blame at the victims, for the chauvinism of fundamentalist Jews, forgetting they weren't the threatening cosmopolites of his thesis.

Nonetheless, Bronner may have written the best short book on antiSemitism. The 14 pages of chapter notes include useful bibliographic information.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-312-21804-4
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2000


NonfictionPOGROM by Steven J. Zipperstein
by Steven J. Zipperstein