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Sunday, July 24, 2005

Graphic story of one of history's biggest lies
Kevin Wood / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer

The Plot: The Secret Story of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion

By Will Eisner

Norton, 148 pp, 19.95 dollars

Europe has a long history of anti-Semitism, but the crimes perpetrated against Jews in the first half of the 20th century comprise one of history's darkest chapters.

Among the justifications given for the widespread discrimination against Jews, from the czarist pogroms and the efforts of the Nazis to exterminate the entire race to the prejudice and hatred faced in daily life is the notion that Jews are engaged in a massive conspiracy to dominate the world.

The proof cited for this despicable theory is a document purportedly written by Jewish leaders at the end of the 19th century that describes in detail their plans to take over the world--The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Late legendary comic creator Will Eisner's last work, The Plot, is the latest in a long line of debunkings of The Protocols.

As has been conclusively proved elsewhere, The Protocols were first written by Mathieu Golovinski, an employee of Czar Nicholas II's secret police, as a propaganda tool to discredit liberal revolutionaries.

In his signature monochrome comic style Eisner shows how the bulk of the work of propaganda was plagiarized from a French book, The Dialogue in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu, written in 1864 by Maurice Joly and intended to liken Napoleon III to the infamous author of The Prince and reveal his dark plans to dominate Europe.

Eisner follows the history of The Protocols through their role in inspiring the murderous policies of the Third Reich to their persistance among modern anti-Semites ranging from Middle Eastern enemies of Israel to American white supremacists.

Ironically, perhaps intentionally, in his efforts to denounce The Protocols, Eisner's text and drawings take on the character of propaganda as he hammers home the same points again and again.

The Plot provides a facinating insight into the creation of one of history's greatest lies in a format well-suited for those interested, but unwilling to wade through the extensive original source material--think of it as a sort of introduction to the history of propaganda.

(Jul. 24, 2005, The Daily Yomiuri)

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