A Brief History of Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories in the U.S.

Jan. 25 2022

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.”

Read more at Conversation

More about: American Jewish History, Anti-Semitism, Jihadism, Protocols of the Elders of Zion, U.S. Politics

When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount