THE „MEMOIRES OF DOLGORUKOV AND THE PROTOCOLS OF THE ELDERS OF ZION“
Prof. Moshe Sharon*
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Two literary forgeries put the Jews and the Bahā’īs in mortal dangers: the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the „Memoirs“ of Dolgorukov. Soon after their appearance on the stage of history the Bahā’īs have been the object of dangerous literary activity of their opponents mainly Muslims shī˓ites as well as sunnīs. The Jews are used to anti-Semitic literature already since ancient times. This literature proved lethal more than ever in modern times among the Europeans that were supposed to have already passed the cultural phase of the „Enlightment.“
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is one of the most notorious anti-Semitic books, which to this very day is used by the enemies of the Jews in the West and in the East. It has been long proved that this document is a clumsy forgery prepared by the agents of the Tsarist Secret Service (
Okhrana) on the basis of a satire called „Dialogues in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu“ by Muaurice Joly published in 1864 against Napoleon III (nothing to do with the Jews); and its plagiarized adaptation to the Jews by the anti-Semite German writer Herman Goedsche. In a chapter of his series of novels entitled „Biarritz“, Goedsche changed the imaginary meeting between Machiavelli and Motesquieu in Joly’s satire to a secret meeting of Jewish Rabbis in the cemetery of Prague where they prepared a plan for the Jewish
control of the world. From fiction the story was turned to fact by the Russian agents.
Brought to Russia in 1895, it was published in 1897, and was given the first public edition by a mystic priest „professor“ Sergius Nilus in 1905. The twenty four „protocols“ were seized enthusiastically by the anti-Semites in Europe and America, translated into many languages and presented as an authentic source for Jewish history and an unquestionable proof for the „Jewish danger“ – a world conspiracy of Jewish leaders who prepare secretly the occupation of the world through control of the economy, the media and other major sources of influence and power. The causing of wars and generating conflicts are among the methods by which the Jews are acting to undermine Christian civilization and world order.
Once the Arabs became acquainted with this pamphlet, first translated into Arabic in 1920 and published in Egypt, they adopted it as the ultimate proof for the Jewish threat. It was translated again from the English edition prepared by Marsden of Nilus‘ original in 1950, and since then published in numerous editions with long introductions and commentaries. There is hardly an Arab scholar in the Arab countries, who does not regard this book as the best source for describing the treacherous character of the Jews and the true reason for the urgent need to combine all powers for destroying them.
In the edition which appeared in Cairo in 1976, the publisher Muḥammad Khalīfah at-Tūnisī wrote a long introduction (mainly translating Marsden’s), in which he presented the book to the „brother Arab reader,“ urging him to guard it very closely, because the Jews search for every copy of the book to purchase it and burn it. He explained that the Jews are afraid of the book because it exposes their true character and horrendous plans for the Arabs and the world in general. Among other things he writes:
„The Jewish danger is a disaster which befell not only our countries alone, but all the countries of the world and its nations, and because of this we should be continuously and fully aware of its machinations and apply ourselves with zeal and perseverance to the holy war against it when, and wherever we can. We must be cautious of it and resist it because it is a satanic endeavour aiming at the corruption of the nations of the world and the spreading of the enmity and hatred amongst all its individual members, as well as among the various sections of society. By doing this they (the Jews) want to be able to gain sole control over the whole world and acquire to themselves its pleasures.“
A second (or first) introduction to this Arabic translation was written by no less than ˓Abbās Maḥmūd al-˓Aqqād (1889 – 1964), the orthodox Muslim writer who is regarded as one of the foremost Muslim intellectuals not only in his native country, Egypt, but in the Islamic world in general. He called the Protocols a „wondrous book“ and expressed surprise that it took such a long time before it was translated, particularly since the Arab world experience the painful effects of the Jewish danger since the Jews established their state on the soil of Palestine!
Because of his western education, knowledge of western languages, and his writings which show his familiarity with western philosophies, he is usually described by western scholars as one of the „modernists“ whatever this term means. But he was the main ideologist of the Muslim revivalist thinking, whether directly or indirectly through his many books on Islamic heroes.
In his introduction he makes clear that though he was well acquainted with the literature which proved that the Protocols were a forgery, he still defended their validity. Using acrobatic language he says that the reality of the Jewish influence and their control of world affairs is the proof that the Protocols are true even if we doubt their authenticity! Quoting A. K. Chesterton, the ultra right wing British writer and journalist he says: „The Elders of Zion may or may not historically exist but there is one fact which is beyond doubt, this is their influence [on the world] which they attempt and succeed to achieve.“ He finishes the introduction saying: „After all being said, it is clear, on the whole, that from the historical point of view the Protocols are the object of extensive research, but there is no question about one thing as Chesterton said: The true hegemony (of the Jews) exists with or without the Protocols.“
The so called „modernist“ ˓Aqqād let his prejudice and ingrained Anti-Jewish sentiments take over. Knowing the truth about this forgery he did not have the minimal integrity to refuse the introduction to this book. Moreover, he hailed it as a “ ˓ajīb“ book and at the same time as a „jahannamī“, namely a wondrous book as well as the book of Hell, and lent his great personal prestige to back its contents. He went as far as to endorse the ridiculous claim of the translator publisher who described the Zionist congresses from 1897 to 1951 as the endorsement of the plans of the Protocols saying: „The aim of all these congresses was to study the plan for the establishment of the World Kingdom of Zion. The members of the first Zionist congress (Basel 1897) are described as no less than „the three hundred most arrogant Elders of Zion“ ( p.17). Already Victor E. Marsden the English translator and editor of Nilus‘ edition from which the Arabic translation was prepared, assured his readers in his introduction to the translation that the minutes of the Basle conference were found to correspond with the Protocols.
The Protocols are best sellers in the entire Arab world as well as in the West to this very day. In Egypt, that according to the peace treaty with Israel was supposed to cease all anti-Semite, anti-Israel anti-Jewish propaganda, it is not only published continuously, but a television programme based on the Protocols popularized them all over the Islamic world.
Hitler’s Mein Kampf also a best seller in its Arabic translation, and the protocols, are the two edge sword of the Islamic Jihad against the Jews and the literary fuel of constant Islamic anti-Semitism.
The Protocols are being currently used by preachers, academicians, teachers, „scholars,“ and in a few Arab countries and the Palestinian Authority as part of the curriculum in schools. They inspired the holocaust-denying PhD thesis of Maḥmud ˓Abbās, the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority written for the University of Lumumba in Moscow.
Maḥmud ˓Abbās is a good link to the other forgery which is the topic of this discussion. The „Memoirs“ of Prince Dolgorukov. It is because Maḥmud ˓Abbās has been described as a Bahā˒ī. This „accusation“ disseminated by his political enemies, has become a common knowledge, and I have been repeatedly assured by my Arab friends that there is no question about his Bahā’ī affiliation because his family name is ˓Abbās and as it is well known ˓Abbās Effendī was a Bahā˒ī leader. All my explanations that no such a relationship is possible if only because of the fact that ˓Abbās Effendi had no male children, do not help. An allegation invented to serve negative purposes gets easily established and its negation is on the whole impossible.
This has been the case with the Protocols and this is the case with their younger brother the forgery known as the Memoires of Count Dolgorukov, which appeard first in the Khurāsān Yearbook in 1943 and a year later in Tehran and after that in many editions and many translations. The clumsy Arabic translation by Sayyid Aḥmad al Mūsawī al-Fālī was received as an authentic source for Bābī-Bahā’ī history, and a true proof for the conspiracy in which both Free Masons and Jews-Zionists and other haters of Islam combine forces in order to undermine Islam and destroy it. Similar to the protocols the Memoires have been copied and quoted by writers and so called historians, and were used to de-legitimate the Bahā’īs and introduce their faith as „contemptible sect.“ This exact expression was used by ˓Abd al-Mun˓im Aḥmad an-Nimr’s for the name of his book in which he copied the Memoires as original documents for the study of the Bābīs and Bahā’īs ( النحلة اللقيطة البابية والبهائية تاريخ ووثائق ). The hatred to the Bahā˒īs in most of the Islamic world is constantly fueled by the Memoires particularly since they form the backbone of the Islamic polemic literature against them. Similar to the protocols the fact that even Muslim scholars have pronounced them as forgeries does not change the views of those who accept them as a proof for the aim of the Bahā˒īs under the cover of global messianic idea to take over the world by first of all destroying Islam from within.
In fact the Memoires were composed in order to show that the only reason for the activity of the Bāb and Bahā˒ullāh was to help the enemies of Islam to achieve this goal. That they were both agent used by the a Russian spy and motivated by greed and by the pursuit of self-aggrandizement.
I chose the Arabic version of the Mudhakkarāt, just as I referred to the Arabic version of the Protocols in order to follow their devastating effect for the Jews on one hand and for the Bahā’īs on the other in the Arabic reading world. The Jews and the Bahā’īs were made the subjects of global conspiracy. They are both small persecuted minorities and can easily be portrayed in the most negative terms quite safely. If one throws in also the Free Masons, the classical picture of conspiracy aimed at taking over the world, or destroying Islam, is completed. The Baha’is are becoming lately a target for vicious attacks in Iran and in Egypt, because their idea of a Global redemption hits at the heart of Islam. After all Islam is suppose to be the religion which is destined to rule the world. The Bahā˒īs, by their mere existence, present attack on Islam on two fronts. On the theological level they challenge the finality of the prophecy of Muḥammad which Islam accepts as an article of faith, and on the other hand they offer an idea of a united world not dominated by Islam but rather by a new set of rules in the centre of which stands the revelation of Bahā˒u˒llāh, who for the Muslims was no less than a murtadd, a blasphemous apostate who claimed divine powers and prophecy negating the fundamental principal of the Seal of Prophecy.
These sentiments were very explicitly emphasized by the Arabic translator of the „Memoirs“. Mūsawī wrote a long prologue and an epilogue to his translation emphasizing the danger to Islam from the followers of the Bāb and Bahā˒u˒llāh. The prologue begins with a long speech about the greatness of Islam, presenting it as the most perfect of all religions. He then goes on to show that because of the superiority of Islam the Jews and Christians made every effort to destroy it. In their overt actions they were partly successful. Through schools which introduced Western culture for instance they succeeded to shutter the belief of many Muslim, to say nothing about other methods by which they introduced their views and ways of life into the Muslim societies, corrupting them. This in addition to the fact that they even succeeded to snatch Islamic territories and bring them under Christian or Jewish rule; the most famous of all these territories is Spain.
But the Western methods of intimidating the world of Islam are only part of the story; much worse is the covered, secret, stealthy methods which the Westerners-Christians have been using to destroy Islam from within. This they have been doing by infiltrating into the heart of Islam, posing as Muslims, and using Muslim collaborators who helped them to achieve their aim.
The „Memoirs“ portray the Bāb and Bahā˒u˒llāh as such traitors and collaborators who helped Dolgorukov, a Russian spy who posed as Muslim, to manipulate the Persian Government on the one hand and on the other, introduce into the Islamic system the elements of strife aiming at causing its collapse from within.
Among other things, Baha˒u˒llāh is described as an avaricious and gluttonous person and an assassin in the service of Dolgorukov. In the latter’s service he was made to murder with poison an important Muslim scholar Aḥmad al-Kīlānī whom Dolgorukov had previously befriended, and whose confidence the Nūrī brothers – Husayn ˓Alī („Bahā˒), Mīrzā Yaḥyā, and Mirzā Riḍā Qulī had gained.
The forgery of the „Memoirs“ is so clear that even the untrained eye can see it. To begin with Dolgorukov says that he arrived in Tehran in 1834 when he actually atrrived, there only in 1845 and remained in service until 1854. The document of the Memoires or any similar text does not exist in the Russian Archives. Throughout the text the inconsistencies of the dates are so obvious that one is unable to understand how they were not picked up by the writer himself. Thus the poisoning of al-Kilānī took place 4 or 5 years after the supposed arrival of the Russian agent in Tehran that is to say in 1838-1839 but the date given in the text is Ṣafar 1251 namely 1835. Dolgorukov is supposed to have left Iran more than five years after arriving there namely at least in 1839. He stayed for some time in Russia, but he returned to Karbalā˒ in 1838!
Clearly the document was written as an anti-Russian pamphlet, to expose an arch-enemy of Iran. What makes it so notorious is the fact that the Bāb, Bahā˒ullāh and their followers were selected to be the villains representing treachery, disloyalty, and keen readiness to work with the enemies of Islam and the enemies of Iran.
The document was successful also because it contains details of some true events such as the execution of the Bāb after his examination in Tabrīz, the attempt on the life of the Shāh, the arrest of Bahā˒u˒llāh, his banishments to Irāq, Istanbul, Edirne and Acre and a few more such events. However even in such descriptions the line which is taken by the „Memoirs“ is to defile the names of the heroes and present them in most negative light. Thus recounting the execution of the Bāb, the „Memoirs“ mention the failure of the first attempt to kill him, but then the Bāb is described as hiding himself in a toilet and begging hysterically for his life.
The appearance of the Bābī religion is portayed by Dolgorukov as a premeditated scheme to use the messianic idea in the shī˓a convincing the young man of Shīrāz that he is the Master of the Time. It was not he or Bahā˒u˒llāh who wrote all the Tablets. Both these men had a very limited knowledge and were unable to write such material. If the Bāb wrote something it was corrected by Dolgorukov who also wrote many similar Tablets and sent them first to the Bāb and after his death to Bahā˒u˒llāh. In short it was Dolgorukov who created the Bābī and Bahā’ī religions which he used as a tool to further his destructive policies against the Muslims. The Bāb was an easy tool. He was addicted to ḥashīsh and under the influence of the drug and of Shīrāzī wine Dolgorukov was able to convince him to assume the position of the Mahdī, the „Lord of the Age“ and there were enough stupid people who very ready to follow him and to follow him. Bahā˒u˒llah, who together with his two brothers was an old collaborator with the Russian spy, was cultivated by the latter to succeed the Bāb. His brother mīrzā Yaḥyā chose to collaborate with the England and went to retire and enjoy good life in Cyprus, where he was looked after by the British government. Dolgorukov continued to supply Bahā˒u˒llāh with Tablets as he did for the Bāb.
There can hardly be a worst way to describe the birth of the Bābī and Bahā˒ī history and the origins of the two movements. The leaders portrayed as traitors, cunning, one even a drug edict, the other a murderer, and tools in the hands of an agent of a Christian Power executing a grand plan to corrupt Islam and ridicule it.
It is not surprising that this miserable forgery became a deadly tool in the hands of the enemies of the Bābis and the Bahā˒īs.
The difference between the „“Memoirs““ and the Protocols is that the „“Memoirs““ are concerned only with Islam whereas the Protocols deal with the whole world, and are an integral part of the general war of the anti-Semites against the Jews anytime, all the time anywhere and everywhere. Dolgorukov’s „Memoirs“ have never become a best seller and mean nothing to anybody which belongs to the Christian culture. They put in danger and discomfort only the Bahā˒īs and not everywhere; not even in all the Islamic lands. Moreover, these Muslims who hate the Bahā˒īs, do not need the trigger of the „Memoirs.“ The same cannot be said about the protocols they are widespread they became the major source for spreading the hatred of the Jews and an ideological basis for the Nazi „final solution.“
* Prof. Moshe Sharon teaches Islamic History at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.