The "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" have come to Los Angeles. On its 100th anniversary, the vicious, primitive forgery has struck again, this time in a Russian-language tabloid circulated in the heavily Russian Jewish neighborhoods around West Hollywood.
First published on August 28, 1903, the "Protocols" have been translated and published all over the world -- including the United States -- in dozens of languages. They have been exposed again and again as forgeries by courts, by investigative reporters of respectable publications and by scholarly analyses conducted by reputable scholars. The original sources from which this abomination was copied are known. They have nothing to do with Jews but still they keep rising from the dead like vampires in Hollywood movies.
This time the "Protocols" were presented as historical fact in the most unlikely venue: Kontakt, a Russian-language Los Angeles weekly serving a predominantly Jewish readership. Kontakt is owned by Vladimir Parenago, who bought the publication a few years ago. Generally clad in black and sporting a large crucifix on a necklace, he bills himself as a "healer" and "mystic."
His wife, Lyubov Parenago, is the editor of Kontakt. It was her signed editorial that discussed the "Protocols" and listed the important lessons Kontakt's readers could learn from studying them.
She presented the "Protocols" as historical fact and as a true exposé of "the special secret [Jewish] plan to control all the world's finances." She explained that the plan was adopted at a meeting that took place at the home of Meier Rothschild in 1773, to where he had invited 12 of the world's most influential bankers -- including six members of the Rothschild family -- to take part in the conspiracy. The result was "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion."
Reaction to the publication among Russian Jews has been angry and intense, but has largely been kept within the community. For many immigrants, dissent and criticism are still frightening and uncomfortable, so the reaction of most of the Russian Jews has consisted of complaining to one another, contacting people who are seen as a bridge between "Americans" and "Russians," and writing letters, mostly unsigned, to Washington, Sacramento, the LAPD, City Hall and Russian-language radio, TV and newspapers.
In addition, the two largest immigrant groups -- World War II Veterans and Holocaust Survivors -- sent letters to Kontakt.
The letters were never published. But in the most recent issue of Kontakt, Lyubov Parenago admitted that she has received many letters, some of them complimentary, others viciously hostile.
"Obviously those who were offended suffer from a lack of a sense of humor," she wrote.
Reader e-mails obtained by The Journal ranged from "What on earth were they thinking of?" to "These anti-Semites should go back to Russia where they will feel right at home." The most extensive and literate e-mail was from a local immigrant, Viktor K., who sent a copy of a letter he wrote to Kontakt. Here are some excerpts translated from the Russian:
"You must be aware that this year is the 100th anniversary of the publication of the 'Protocols' -- the major historical forgery of the 20th century that was the ideological justification for pre-revolutionary pogroms, as well as the anti-Jewish atrocities of the White forces and the suffering of thousands. This forgery was exposed more than 80 years ago but it is still being used today by Hitlerite nazis, Islamic fundamentalists and assorted anti-Semites. This is why your publication of an additional 'Protocol' that is connected with the Rothschild family and predates the other by 130 years is a very personal contribution on your part... Later you informed your readers that it was all a joke and bemoaned the absence of a sense of humor among your readers. Well, your sense of humor is impressive."
Reached by phone, Lyubov Parenago said she was genuinely puzzled at what she saw as a lack of appreciation by the Jewish community. "I print stories about Israel," she said. "I support Jewish causes, I publicize Russian Jewish artists touring the United States. This was a fantasy that shouldn't have been taken seriously, it was just advice on how to become rich, the Rothschild plan was never seen or read by anyone, it was a service to the community."
Lyubov Parenago then went on to deny that the "Protocols" she published were the actual ones. "This story wasn't about the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion,'" she said, "it was about a different 'Protocol,' a different plot, a different idea, a Rothschild idea. How could anyone think that I would publish those 'Protocols?'
"I can express my opinion," she went on. "I can say what I think in this free country. Why this hostile reaction? I don't understand."
Si Frumkin is chairman of the Southern California Council for Soviet Jews.