I’ll never fully comprehend how some people out there seem to think “the Jews” are this incredibly well organized worldwide cabal of supergeniuses. In fact, we aren’t even able to come to a consensus on whether matzo balls are best served fluffy or firm.
Filmmaker Marc Levin is similarly perplexed by the continued existence of centuries old anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Most of these have their modern roots in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a book which purports to be the secret minutes of a meeting in which Jewish leaders plan worldwide domination and other hijinks. The book is, of course, a forgery dating back to Tsarist Russia, but that hasn’t prevented it from being a perpetual bestseller and even the basis of a recent TV miniseries broadcast in the Arab world. It also has fueled newer myths of worldwide Jewish evil, particularly that four thousand Jews employed at the World Trade Center mysteriously choose to stay home from work on September 11, 2001.
“Protocols of Zion” takes a personal, kinder-gentler Michael Moore/Nick Broomfield approach to exposing anti-Semitism. The video documentary has Levin chatting with a motley assortment that includes leaders of the Anti-Defamation League, the white supremacist National Alliance, Brooklyn-accented Palestinian-American street guys, and a Hasidic kahbbahlist who suggest it’s better for Jews to stay away from the topic of anti-Semitism entirely.
It’s possible the rebbe has company. On the eve of the release of “The Passion of the Christ”, Levin is unable to get any of those terrible liberal media-controlling type Jews to actually appear onscreen. Norman Lear refers him to Larry David (“the hottest Jew in Hollywood”), who refers him to Rob Reiner, who suggests he might give Norman Lear a call.
While “Protocols of Zion” does give a fairly interesting, concise, and commendably non-hysterical history of anti-Semitism, and many of director Levin’s encounters are revealing, the film does not really say much of anything new. It’s a valuable piece, especially for younger and/or non-Jewish people who may be unaware of the issues involved. And I have to applaud its theme that all of us need to try harder to foster respect and a better world. Still, for those of us who may be more knowledgeable about the subject matter, Marc Levin’s film is mostly old news.