The Elders of Zion, with their protocols for covert Jewish world domination, were a czarist forgery. The Elders of Anti-Zion, or, as they style themselves, The Elders, are real and include Nobel Peace Prize winners.
Their name signals pomposity. A parallel to their mythical predecessors suggests danger.
The antisemitic inventors of the Elders of Zion used their creation to satanize the Jewish people. Their caricatures contributed at least indirectly to the Holocaust.
Todays Elders decry what they insist is the fallen condition of Israel and its supporters. Their moral presumption helps demonize the Jewish state and its supporters.
The Elders were on display with a USA Today Op-Ed by Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter last month. Headlined "It's time for a new approach on Middle East peace" the December 21 piece rehashed others by Carter and included a half-dozen fundamental errors.
Perhaps more important was the accompanying picture. In addition to Carter and Tutu it showed Nelson Mandela, Mary Robinson, Kofi Annan, and Lakhdar Brahimi.
Funded primarily by celebrity billionaire Sir Richard Branson and Rock n Roll Hall of Fame member Peter Gabriel and endorsed by the United Nations, the Elders are morally compromised on Israel.
Mandelas renown for leading the transition from apartheid to majority rule in South Africa hides a blind spot. He benefitted during imprisonment from support by international human rights campaigners, but has employed an ends-justifies-the-means standard for others.
Visiting China after his ascension to South Africa's presidency, Mandela did not criticize oppression of dissidents. He invited to Johannesburg the leaders of Iran, Libya and Cuba, dictators who repressed their own people and sponsored international terrorism.
Questioned by a Jewish student at the University of Wittwatersrand about ties between his African National Congress and Libya, Cuba and Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization -- when the PLO was still one of the worlds leading terrorist groups -- President Mandela replied with Faustian self-justification: "Your enemies are not my enemies .... We will continue to determine our attitudes to any country, toward anyone, on the basis of their attitude toward our own struggle."
Tutu, Anglican archbishop emeritus, is, like Mandela, Carter, and Annan a Peace Prizer. In "Bishop Tutu Is No Saint When it Comes to Jews," a December 20 posting for the Hudson Institute, Alan Dershowitz noted that "Tutu is no mere anti-Zionist
. He has minimized the suffering of those killed in the Holocaust. He has attacked the Jewish not Israeli lobby as too powerful .... He has invoked classic antisemitic stereotypes ... about Jewish arrogance, power and money .... [A]nd has accused the Jews of causing many of the worlds problems." Tutu also has denied that Israel is a civilized democracy and last fall urged unsuccessfully the Capetown Opera not to perform there.
Robinson was Irelands first female president of Ireland. As U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights she oversaw the toxic 2001 U.N. World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. Despite warnings, Robinson failed to prevent the hijacking by Iran an its allies inside the conference and non-governmental groups like the Arab Lawyers Union outside. The Durban event became a font of anti-Zionism and antisemitism. U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), criticized Robinson for "failing to provide the leadership needed to keep the conference on track."
Lakhdar Brahimi, a retired Algerian diplomat and U.N. special envoy to Iraq and Afghanistan, co-founded of the French-language Journal of Palestine Studies. He sees in Gaza youth a reflection of himself in the Algerian anti-French resistance. Hes referred to Israel as a "poison" in the Middle East and blamed it, not Hezbollah, for the 2006 war in Lebanon.
Annan, as U.N. Secretary General, helped debunk the "Jenin massacre" libel and confirmed Israels 2000 withdrawal from Lebanon, contrary to Hezbollah claims. Not an Israel-basher, he did not attempt to stop the U.N.s anti-Zionist, anti-Israel attacks.
And theres the insufferable Carter. Another Nobelist, his Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid led to mass resignations by Carter Center board members and rejection as "replete with factual errors
and invented segments" by historian Kenneth Stein, first center executive director and Carter White House advisor on the Middle East.
The Elders have opposition in the Friends of Israel Initiative. This group includes former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo and Nobel Peace Prize laureate David Trimble of Northern Ireland. But the Friends lack The Elders media-perpetuated spotlight. Thats a shame, if not a conspiracy.
(This appeared as an Op-Ed column in the January 27, 2011 edition of the Washington Jewish Week.)