Big Lie misses the mark in a big way

With their new book “Dismantling the Big Lie,” authors Steven L. Jacobs and Mark Weitzman have adopted a novel strategy to combat anti-Semites: They will bore them to death.

The tome, a publication of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, dissects and refutes each of the 24 protocols comprising the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion,” the century-old Czarist forgery purporting to be the transcripts of fiendish Jews intent upon world domination.

In doing so, the book touts itself as the only “item by item” refutation of the “Protocols,” and valuable ammunition so “the vanguard of our community, including students on campuses, can rebut every canard.”

Unfortunately, the only use a college student could have for this book is to prop up a second-hand coffee table.

Its arguments are presented in such a manner that no one hateful enough to consider the “Protocols” a true document or naïve enough to be unsure will be persuaded of their falsity or even have the patience to read for very long.

Each of the 24 protocols — which are included in their entirety in the back of the book — are broken down into bullet-point outlines that are often confusing and wearisome.

Jacobs and Weitzman then counter each of the protocols’ points one-by-one, but, shockingly, mostly eschew real-world historical examples and arguments, instead relying nearly exclusively on passages from the Torah, Talmud and other texts to contradict the claims of the “Protocols” anti-Semitic authors.

At times, the authors seem to disregard that flesh-and-blood Jews exist outside of the Torah and Talmud. They also seem to forget that Jews are capable of, indeed, disobeying the aforementioned great texts.

On top of that, the authors delve into esoteric Judaica to the point of churning out head-scratching non sequiturs.

In refuting a claim that Jews will destroy the world’s college systems, Jacobs and Weitzman see fit to note “the development of summer camps in all the religious movements” where campers enjoy “the pleasurable activities usually associated with summer camping such as sports, swimming, hiking, arts and crafts …”

Summer camps?

Buried at the bottom of their refutation is the authors’ contention that Jews couldn’t have dismantled the world’s colleges during most of the 20th century — because they weren’t even allowed in.

This is a recurring problem. Real-world examples like the above are given short shrift or ignored altogether in favor of a cavalcade of textual references.

Relying solely on biblical tracts when discussing Jews and business, for example, is simply unacceptable. Anyone entertaining even the slightest notion that a Jewish conspiracy controls the world will have sentiments in his or her head about Jews’ disproportionate economic success. To ignore addressing this and instead toss out half a dozen biblical references swearing to Jews’ principled business practices will be seen for the dodge it is.

Finally, the authors intentionally chose to focus on refuting the protocols point-by-point instead of spending much effort documenting the anti-Semitic tract’s provably forged origins. If this book is really intended to be a bullet in the bandoleer of campus Jews, this is a terrible error in judgement.

Jacobs and Weitzman’s research acumen and Jewish knowledge is not in question, but their strategy in combating Jew-haters most certainly is. This is an impressive compilation of Jewish texts, but, in the battle against anti-Semitism, it’s as useful as a knife in a gunfight.

Dismantling the Big Lie: The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” by Steven L. Jacobs and Mark Weitzman (Simon Wiesenthal Center/KTAV Publishing House, 232 pages, $18.95).

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi is the managing editor at Mission Local. He is a former editor-at-large at San Francisco magazine, former columnist at SF Weekly and a former J. staff writer.