How a Deranged Conspiracy Theory Inspired Japan to Try to Create a Jewish State in Manchuria

September 15, 2021 | Dara Horn
About the author: Dara Horn is the author of five novels, most recently Eternal Life.

During the Russian Civil War, forces loyal to the deposed tsar found themselves fighting alongside the Japanese, and introduced them to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This notorious anti-Semitic forgery would in turn shape a generation of imperial Japanese officers’ thinking about Jews. Convinced that it could use the Jews’ supposed global power, wealth, and shrewdness to its own ends, Japan eventually hatched a scheme to create a Jewish state in Manchuria. Dara Horn tells this story, replete with bizarre twists and turns, and explains what it says about the strange roles Jews can play in the non-Jewish imagination—which often have little to do with Jews themselves. In other words, this episode isn’t so different from those that are the subject of her recent book. (Audio, 49 minutes.)

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