The idea of international Jewish collusion to undermine Gentile society goes back to the Middle Ages, if not earlier. Using the rantings of the Colleyville hostage-taker as a point of departure, Jonathan Sarna explains how such fantasies have taken root on American soil:
The man who took a rabbi and three congregants hostage in Colleyville, Texas . . . told his hostages, as one revealed in a media interview, that Jews “control the world” and that they could use their perceived power to free Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani convicted in 2010 for trying to kill American soldiers and plotting to blow up the Statue of Liberty. The hostage-taker also demanded to speak to New York’s Central Synagogue rabbi, Angela Buchdahl, so that she would use her “influence” to help get Siddiqui released.
As immigration brought Jews in larger numbers to America’s shores, particularly from Russia, one of the first overtly anti-Semitic books ever published in the United States, Telemachus Thomas Timayenis’s 1888 The American Jew: An Exposé of His Career, warned darkly that Jews had “acquired a hold on this country such as they never secured on any nation in Europe.”
In the 20th century, the publication that did the most to disseminate the myth of a Jewish conspiracy to control the world was the forgery known as The Protocols of the Elders the Zion. Precisely because they offer a simple explanation—“the Jews are responsible”—and flatter believers into thinking they possess secret knowledge others lack, conspiracy theories like the Protocols are notoriously difficult to disprove. . . . And the phenomena recounted—social, economic, political, and cultural changes transforming the world—are certainly real enough. For many conspiracy-minded folks, that is usually validation enough.
Conspiracy theorists targeted the Rothschilds, famed European Jewish bankers, as well. Niles Weekly Register, [based in Baltimore and] perhaps the most widely circulated magazine of its time, reported in 1835 that “the descendants of Judah” held Europe “in the hollow of their hands.” It ascribed particular power to the Rothschild banking family which, it claimed, “govern a Christian world—not a cabinet moves without their advice.”