Anti-Semitic signs at a neo-Nazy rally in Russia (Image: cursorinfo.co.il)
Last Friday night in prime time, Moscow’s REN-TV presented what it says was a documentary about the sinking of the Titanic in 2012 that suggested that the sinking of the ship was the result of a Masonic conspiracy with, in the words of one viewer, “a clearly expressed anti-Semitic subtext.”
Aleksey Zheleznev suggests that this represented “a reanimation in Russia of ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a vicious anti-Semitic forgery that animated the Russian far right at the end of the imperial period and retains support among Russian marginal to this day.
The Moscow television show, he points out, was a remake of a film prepared for the centenary of the loss of the Titanic in 2012. That film suggested that a shadowy “Group of 300” consisting of Jews, Masons and Illuminati had sunk the ship in order to provoke chaos and bring to power “a universal government’” controlled by themselves.
The notion that such a conspiracy existed, of course, was a central theme of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and completely absurd. But when REN-TV showed it in 2012, it spoke about all this in the past tense, as something that had happened in the years before World War I and therefore quite distant from today’s world.
What makes the new showing disturbing, Zheleznev says, is that the revised version of the film shown at the end of last week drops any reference to this time frame and thus presents this “content” outside of time and thus important for the present day, especially since it links the sinking of the Titanic to more recent events.
Among these, the Russian writer says, are “the diversion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986, the destruction of the USSR in 1991, and the blowing up of the twin towers in New York in 2001, “in which,” according to the film’s writers, “Arab terrorists were unjustly accused.”
“The goal of these horrific crimes,” the film suggests in Zheleznev’s words, “is to frighten people and to transform them into an obedient herd condemned to subordination or destruction.”
According to “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” this conspiracy was hatched in 1897 at the First Zionist Congress. The pamphlet itself appeared in 1903 and was given wide distribution in Russia even though it was denounced as crude anti-Semitic forgery by many Russians.
What is worrisome, Zheleznev says, is that once again, the ideas in this forgery are being disseminated by the Russian media – and this time by the far more powerful and influential Russian television which surveys show many Russians now accept not only as reflecting the views of the Kremlin but as necessarily true.
This television program comes on the heels of another event in Russia that is of concern. A State Duma deputy from the majority party United Russia, Mikhail Starshinov, has called for reestablishing state control over “the quality of religious education and preaching,” arguing that the USSR offers “a positive case” in this regard.
Aleksandr Boroda, the president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, says that he is extremely worried about what this would mean for religious life in Russia and because it appears that this proposal has a Kremlin imprimatur.
In a Federation press release, the rabbi says that what Starshinov seeks is the “de facto restoration of the Soviet ‘Council on Religious Affairs’” which exercised “total control over religious life” and which was often involved in anti-Semitic outrages.
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Tags: International, Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Putin regime, Russian antisemitism / anti-Semitism, Russian media, Russian media fakes