Protocols of Zion is a documentary that has no direction. It wanders in a host of directions, but is unfocused and comes to no conclusions.
The documentary reports to examine what it seems to say is a newfound anti-Semitism post September 11, 2001. The title of the documentary comes from the late 19th century book The Protocols of the Elders of Zion which claims to be the outcome of a meeting of Jews at the end of the 1800s in which they plan to take over the world. Despite being shown as a fraud more than once, Hitler used it as a part of Mein Kampf and Hezbollah has it as part of their charter. The book is also somewhat popular among white supremacists. The movie poster shows papers in the shape of the Trade Center Towers on fire which indicates to me that the documentary will focus on that. The problem is that, while quoting the Protocols from time to time, it does not focus on explaining why they are false. The filmmaker, Marc Levin, just presents them as fatuous on their face. They are, but if he is trying to sway opinions, that is a very poor way to do it. He also wanders so much from the Trade Center attacks that the film appears entirely adrift.
He wanders from one extremist to another, interviewing them randomly and intersperses these sections with interviews with Jews. The striking thing about it is just how rational many of the anti-Semites are. He interviews the head of a Christian Identity sect in West Virginia who presents himself very professionally. He shows Mr. Levin his warehouse of Nazi and pro-white merchandise as if what he were selling was as innocuous as care bears. During this interview, the man refers to the death camps now as a commercial enterprise, saying “I bought beer at Auschwitz.” Mr. Levin interviews the man who runs the website Jew Watch and has a radio call in show where Mr. Levin appears. Those who call in are of the sort we tend to dismiss because they are so far from rational as to be comical. But the man behind the mike seemed as rational and informed as just about any expert. In a big way, this is frightening because if they look normal and act normal but spread hate, how do you recognize them? Mr. Levin does not really explore this, so, in effect, he is giving them free access to express their racist views without comment. While this might be admirable in some sort of idealistic way, it defeats his purpose.
The only people Mr. Levin shows as completely irrational, the ones who believe that Jews were told to stay away from work on September 11, are seemingly random groups of blacks and groups of Arab-Americans. They spout their conspiracy theories and Mr. Levin stands like Michael Moore in the midst of them screaming logic that to his biased audience will only see as foolishness or further evidence of a Jewish conspiracy.
Then Mr. Levin takes on Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. Rather than focus on the WTC attack, he now wanders into the fray over this film. He spends significant time interviewing Christians about the film before and after seeing it (they call it a love story, a nauseating thought unless what you love is extreme sadism). He even shows a clip of an interview with Mr. Gibson who implicates both Romans and Jews in the death of Christ and an audio clip of Gibson’s extremist father who outright accuses Jews of all sorts of horror.
He tries, half heartedly, to get Jews to explain why they believe there is so much anti-Semitism. None of the explanations are compelling and I really see no point for why they are there. In the same category is the fact that Mr. Levin shows that his grandfather was the president of a Jewish organization, but makes no real mention as to the relevance of this. Nor does he follow this up with some sort of summary that will help put this out of place family plug in the context of his film.
The piece is incoherent. I thought it was supposed to cover the way the Protocols of the Elders of Zion were still being used specifically to create a conspiracy theory for September 11. That people still use the Protocols for the same old saws they’ve used for over a hundred years means nothing. Of course they are. People still believe that gays cannot reproduce, so we have to recruit. Both the Protocols and the recruitment ideas are absurd on their faces, but so long as there is hatred towards Jews and towards gays, these notions will exist. In this aspect, the film is a giant DUH that is a waste of time. If Mr. Levin had kept focus on the topic of the Protocols and explained why a group of otherwise rational people would cook up a theory based on them that Jews created the WTC disaster, it would have been worth watching. What is presented is a mish mash of family lore, talks with people who have no insights, and a trip to the cemetery with his father at the end for no reason what so ever.