Monday, December 17, 2007

Historical Fakeries

I didn't know until today that there were other faked historical documents about Jewish perfidy, apart from The Protocols. (I'm not sure Mearsheimer and Walt's latest version applies. Theirs is not a strictly fake. It is a very real fanciful, highly embellished, polemic, written by knowable persons of academic eminence). But each day you live, you learn a new fact.

Mick Hartley posted this today:

Here's Syrian cleric Muhammad Sa'id Ramadhan Al-Bouti, on Al-Jazeera TV last week:

I would like to conclude my speech by quoting the will that Benjamin Franklin read out loud to his American "sons" – but the sons and grandsons have torn this will to shreds. In a speech that Benjamin Franklin delivered at the committee for the drafting of the U.S. constitution in 1789, he warned the committee, and the Americans in general, of the Jewish danger for America and the world. Let me read his speech to you, translated into Arabic.

There is a great danger threatening the United States of America. That danger is the Jewish danger. Gentlemen, in whichever land the Jews have settled, they have corrupted the morals, and lowered the level of commercial honesty. They always isolate themselves and never mix with others. Because of their feelings of persecution, they always attempt to choke the nations economically, like they did to Portugal and Spain. Since 1700 [sic.], they have been lamenting their fate. But gentlemen, if the world were to give them Palestine, which they claim along with other property, they would soon find a reason to start lamenting their fate once again. How come? Because they are vermin – he was referring to grave-dwellers who leave their tombs to suck the blood of others. They cannot live among their own kind. They live at the expense of Christians and others who do not belong to their race. If they are not deported from the United States by the Constitution, within a century they will be streaming into our country in such large numbers that will enable them to rule the country, destroy us, and change the form of government for which we Americans shed our blood, and for which we have sacrificed our lives, our property, and our personal freedom. If we do not deport the Jews, our children will become, within 200 years, field laborers working to feed the Jews, while the Jews will stay in the banks, gleefully rubbing their hands. I warn you, gentlemen, that if you do not deport the Jews once and for all, your children and grandchildren will curse you in your graves. The values of the Jews are not the same as those of the Americans, and they will not be the same even if they live among us for ten generations. A leopard cannot change its spots. The Jews will pose a danger to this country, if they are allowed in. They will destroy our institutions.

There's a history to this. From the website of the Anti-Defamation League:

Another anti-Semitic hoax on history, of a piece with that incredible forgery, The Protocols of The Learned Elders of Zion, but not as widely distributed nor as successful in creating the pogrom atmospheres that were the achievements of the Protocols, is a speech attributed to Benjamin Franklin during the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The anti-Semitic movement, which founded the hoax, calls it the Franklin Prophecy — ascribing to Franklin a dire warning that unless Jews were expelled from the new nation by Constitutional decree they would ultimately immigrate in great numbers to the detriment of the Christian population.
Of course, no such speech was ever made. But the hoaxers sought to impart an aura of historical credibility to the fake by claiming that the speech is quoted in a "private diary" of Charles Pinckney, Revolutionary leader who was delegate from South Carolina to the Constitutional Convention. They also maintain that the diary is now in the possession of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, a bald lie which Henry Butler Allen, director of the Institute, has often refuted. Allen says that "historians and librarians have not been able to find [the diary] or any record of it having existed."


A commenter provides context and reliable information:

Not surprisingly, it is Washington’s response, rather than Seixas’s epistle, which is best remembered and most frequently reprinted. Washington began by thanking the congregation for its good wishes and rejoicing that the days of hardship caused by the war were replaced by days of prosperity. Washington then borrowed ideas – and actual words – directly from Seixas’s letter:

The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens.

Washington’s concluding paragraph perfectly expresses the ideal relationship among the government, its individual citizens and religious groups:

May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.

Washington closed with an invocation: “May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.”

The letter, a foundation stone of American religious liberty and the principle of separation between church and state, is signed, simply, “G. Washington.” Each year, Newport’s Congregation Kahal Kadosh Yeshuat Israel, now known as the Touro Synagogue, re-reads Washington’s letter in a public ceremony. The words deserve repetition.

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