A major bookstore has been accused of endorsing “racist counterfeiting” after it put up a work of anti-Semitic literature for sale and described it as an “interesting book”.
Blackwell’s, which is one of the UK’s leading academic bookstores, advertised on their website The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which is a notoriously problematic book allegedly forged in early 20th century Russia.
It appears to describe a plan for global domination of the Jewish world, the Jewish News reported.
It has also been suggested that the book was a key influence on Nazi antisemitism, with historian Norman Cohn calling it an “order of genocide”.
Blackwell’s was asked to issue a full apology after it listed the article on its website, translated from Russian, for £15.95.
The book was accompanied by the following synopsis of the text, originally translated from the Russian: ‘If The Protocols are a forgery, they still form an interesting book that deserves to be studied. However, if the Protocols are genuine (which can never be conclusively proven), it might cause some of us to keep a wary eye on world affairs. We neither endorse nor deny his message, we simply make it available to those who want a copy.’
Reacting to the item’s listing, Marie van der Zyl, chair of the Board of Deputies for British Jews, said: “It is staggering that a supposedly respectable retailer distributes a notorious anti-Semitic forgery accusing a cabal of Jews of being behind it.” a plot to rule the world, with a blurb on their website claiming the work might be genuine. This shameful example of Jew-hatred should be removed from their online store and we expect a full apology.”
The bookstore later amended its synopsis but added, by way of refuting claims of anti-Semitism, that it was unaware of the accompanying text calling the book “interesting” until after receiving complaints.
The synopsis was changed to the following: ‘Not all documents that change the world are good, some are despicable and leave hate and bigotry in their wake. Such is the case with the 1900-era anti-Semitic manifesto.’
A statement posted online by the company said: “The description that appeared for The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was a machine source from the publisher, not something written or endorsed by us.
“With over 18 million books on our website, we can’t physically check every record, but once this came to our attention, we replaced the description with words that express our utter condemnation of the contents of this book.”