Book Title: Protocols: Exposing Modern Antisemitism
Author: Elder of Ziyon
Elder of Ziyon (EoZ) is the alias of an American Jewish man who has been blogging since 2004. Although he is a bit older than me and a real-life grandfather, I look at him as a blogging younger brother, given Israellycool has been around a bit longer and he used to be a contributor to it. So it is understandable I felt pride when he informed me he had published a book.
Not surprisingly, the book deals with the topic of antisemitism and how it manifests itself today, given this is the focus of his blog. Indeed, the book is essentially a collection of some of his blog posts on the topic, albeit organized and touched up to ensure the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
And indeed, the whole is great. Although a hi-tech guy in real life, Elder really has a knack for writing coherently, as well as analyzing international law and mounting a case in order to expose and debunk the lies of those who spread hatred against Israel and the Jewish people. I say this as someone who studied law and spent years refining these skills. For Elder, it seems to come naturally.
Elder bases the book around his own “improved” definition of antisemitism:
malicious lies about or
as individual Jews,
as a people, as a religion, as an ethnic group or
as a nation (i.e., Israel.)
I agree this is an improved definition over those we have today, and a great starting point for a meaningful expose of modern antisemitism.
And for the most part, this is exactly what this book is. The book is divided in to 5 sections: Modern Antisemitism, International Law, The experts get it wrong, the dishonesty of Israel’s demonizers, and the NGO jihad against Israel.
While the net result is effective, some of the sections worked better than others.
In Modern Antisemitism, Elder masterfully shows how modern anti-Zionism is rooted in classic antisemitism, and rightfully points the finger not just at the Far right, but all the other strains of modern antisemitism, including that of the Left, within the Muslim and Black communities, and those claiming to “only” hate Israel. A strength of this section is how he provides actual examples.
In International Law, Elder does a great job showing how “Israel-haters” commonly misrepresent international law. But for me, this does not work as strongly as the first section, since Elder is not able to prove that these are always malicious lies (per his definition). I posit that many people who claim Gaza is still occupied, for example, are ignorant of the law and have been getting their talking points from others who themselves are ignorant or actual malicious liars. Perhaps Elder at least subconsciously realizes this, since he does not refer to those propagating these lies as “antisemites” but rather “Israel-haters” or “Israel critics”. In fact, in his chapter on international law and vaccines to occupied territories, he expressly states that anyone misrepresenting the law “is either ignorant or bigoted.”
In The experts get it wrong, Elder takes to task the likes of those who keep predicting intifadas, misunderstand Oslo, and attack the paradigm shift represented by the Abraham Accords. Again, Elder does a great job exposing them and their views towards Israel, but not necessarily their antisemitism.
In The Dishonesty of Israel’s demonizers, Elder exposes the methods and falsehoods of those who attack Israel. For the most part, this worked better for me than the previous two sections, because Elder is frequently able to show the connection between the Israel-hatred and antisemitism. For example, Elder characterizes as antisemitism Peter Beinart’s saying that Israel’s existence and potential destruction should be debated, since to Beinart, Israel is “the only nation on Earth whose very existence is subject to debate.” Likewise, his chapter on Pinkwashing effectively mounts the case of antisemitism because “like most traditional antisemitism, the pinkwashing charge is a conspiracy theory” and that “Israeli Jews cannot possibly do anything positive for gays.”
In the NGO jihad against Israel, Elder shows how the NGOs demonize Israel with lies and hate. Here, it is harder to avoid the conclusion of antisemitism, even if it is not proven per se, because these are large organizations with resources, who have a track record in lying all the time. As Elder writes towards the end “To all three (B’tselem, HRW and Amnesty), the entire raison d’etre of Israel is immoral.” And indeed, opposing Jewish self-determination is antisemitism.
Protocols is a truly impressive work, made even more impressive by the fact Elder is prolific with his blog posts while holding down a demanding day job. How he found the time to self-publish this comprehensive work is truly remarkable. Yet I feel it would have been more effective had Elder stuck to the antisemitism he could prove or at least strongly suggested through circumstantial evidence. One highly effective way to do this is to show the words or blog posts of “anti-Zionists” and how they cross the line into pure antisemitism (like I do with my anti-Zionist-not-antisemite of the day series). Elder did do this sporadically throughout the book, but I would like to have seen more of it.
I would have also preferred to have seen many of the latter chapters in a separate book on countering the lies of Israel-haters, leaving the focus of this book to provable antisemitism.
There are also some things Elder states as fact that I would disagree with. For instance, when he writes “Individual demonizers of Israel are bad, but the damage they can cause is limited to the size of the audience” before stating “The network of non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, poses far more danger”, he seems to be forgetting or ignoring the Gigi Hadid’s of the world, whose audiences are close to a hundred million people, and are way more effective at influencing the young people of the day.
Finally, the book is so comprehensive, it is crying out for an index.
These are all suggestions for improvement, but at the end of the day, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is indispensable reading for Israel advocates and those who care about combating Jew hatred and hatred of Israel. Where it might be less effective is in convincing those people who hate Israel of the error of their ways, partly because of my feedback above, but also because Elder writes under an obviously fake name with a cartoon avatar. Which is ironic, because I am sure one of the reasons he feels the need to blog anonymously is because of the very real threat that antisemites pose to him for his great work.
You can purchase Protocols here.