An FBI Twitter account has raised eyebrows after linking to the ‘Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion,’ a century-old virulently anti-Jewish pamphlet, without any comment or context.
The FBI Records Vault tweets out documents from the bureau’s archives. On Wednesday afternoon, it sent out a link to a PDF copy of the Protocols, using a program called GovTweetManager.
Thousands of people liked, retweeted or responded to the post, which is not something the account normally experiences. Some of the replies saw the tweet as the FBI’s endorsement of the pamphlet.
“It looks like they are promoting it,” anti-Semitism researcher David Collier commented. “Normally they get a few retweets. This has gone viral. Totally irresponsible.”
“Did Q hack the FBI Twitter account?” wondered liberal economist David Rothschild, referring to the conspiracy-minded phenomenon popular among some on the American right.
There does not seem to be a particular pattern to Records Vault tweets. Following the ‘Protocols,’ it posted some records pertaining to Rexford Tugwell, a 1930s economist who engineered the New Deal policy of farm resettlement. Before that, it linked to two sets of documents about the 1985 bombing of the black anarchist collective MOVE in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The last time the Records Vault caused this kind of furor was in the run-up to the 2016 US presidential election, when it posted documents about corrupt financier Marc Rich, pardoned by President Bill Clinton, and materials about then-candidate Donald Trump’s father Fred, prompting a complaint by Democrat activists.
‘The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion’ is a 1903 pamphlet purporting to describe “a Jewish plan for achieving global domination.” Western historians claim it was forged in the Russian Empire and published as a pretext for the persecution of Jews.
The notorious book was translated into many languages, winning praise from such anti-Semitic figures as Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. Schools in Nazi Germany treated the ‘Protocols’ as a genuine historical document, though evidence that it was a forgery had already emerged by the 1920s.