MR. LUCIEN WQLF AND THE PROTOCOLS.* Triouon we cannot at
the present moment enter into a discussion of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, or of the revolutionary activities of a section of the Jewish population of Europe, we must put up a finger-post to Mr.
Lucien Wolf's little book, which he has entitled The Myth of the Jewish Menace in World Affairs. He holds that the
Protocols were pure forgeries, the work of agents-prorocateurs, and that there was nothing behind them whatever except fraud and wickedness. Possibly Mr. Lucien Wolf is right ; but for ourselves we cannot help thinking that, though they were used for bad purposes by the Secret Police, they may have been founded on something, and that the undoubted similarity of thought and language between a large portion of them and the French pamphlet discovered by the Times was due rather to some common source than to mere copying by the alleged anonymous forger. That, we admit, is con- jecture, but in any case there remains over the curious ability with which the Protocols are written in spite of their maniacal fury.
But when we suggest that there is still an element of mystery, we do not desire to use the Protocols in any way to discredit the Jewish race, or to support the theory of a Jewish revolutionary conspiracy. Whatever they are, they have been proved to be tainted. We maintain, in fact, the view which we put forth at the very beginning of the con- troversy. When the Protocols first appeared we used tho following words :-
" We sincerely trust that The Jewish Peril : Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion (London : Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1920), of which a somewhat alarmist account appeared in the Times of last Saturday, will not carry readers off their feet, but will be studied with great care and discretion. In our opinion, the book is a piece of malignant lunacy. In the present condition of public, opinion it is, however, likely to do an infinity of harm if it is allowed to go unchallenged, and if the better advisers of the public do not correct the maddening follies which can, and we fear may, be based upon an unin- structed study of this singular and most powerful though dangerous work."
Later on in the article we said :-
"Though we regard, with anxiety the wicked and ridiculous attempt to convict n*n of the Jewish faith and race of a world-wide conspiracy because such a scheme was set forth by a Russian Jew some nineteen years ago, we are by no means sure that there is not a Jewish peril, though it is of a Perfectly different kind from that discovered in the pamphlet and one of a much less sensational kind."
As the true remedy for the suspicions which were cast upon the Jews we made the following suggestion :— " What is the remedy, what is the best way of avoiding the evils of conspiracy-mongering, and of falling into terrors over Imaginary plots instead of dealing with real and active con- spiracies ? In our belief, the remedy is publicity. The way to bring quiet to the public mind is not to suppress informa- tion, or alleged information, about world-wide conspiracies, but to drag them into the light. They are fungus growths which die in the light but flourish in the darkness."
That, we are glad to say, is exactly what has happened. The Jewish community here, in America and abroad, though angry at the suggestion made in regard to members of their faith and race, instituted research and inquiry into the origin of the Protocols, with the result that they were shown to be in large measure a patchwork in which one of the chief sources was a -piece of French political satire of the 'sixties. Once again publicity proved the best of social and political antiseptics. The more sensational, the more horrible, the more infamous an allegation, the more necessary is the cleansing influence of publicity.