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Teller From Jerusalem

Feb 10, 2021

Hatikva is unique among national anthems. A maid employed by the French military found a memo in the trash in the German embassy in Paris with military secrets. The French Minister of War connected the document – despite not a shred of evidence – to a Jewish artillery captain, Alfred Dreyfuss, who subsequently was convicted of spying and denounced as a traitor. This set off anti-Jewish rioting, similar to blood libels, which also made no sense, but were lethal and costly for innocent Jewish victims. This was a tipping point for a reporter covering the trial named Theodore Herzl. 

Generous Baron Maurice de Hirsch refused to contribute to Herzl’s plan which he considered a fantasy. Eventually, as Daniel Gordis points out, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Herzl. “Better luck next time” wasn’t an option, and the need to improve resulted in Der Judenstaat. When things look catastrophic there is often a silver lining, case in point: The Auschwitz Protocols. As Dreyfuss languishes on Devil’s island, Emil Zola comes to his rescue by publishing, J’accuse. The most important work on sparking antisemitism,  the fictitious Protocols of the Elders of Zion, finds an enthusiastic supporter and disseminator in America, car magnate, Henry Ford. 

Photo Credits:
Wetzler Memorial 
Auschwitz Fence – Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, Jerusalem
J’accuse headline – J’accuse by Gaumont
Cover image Protocols Elders of Zion: Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, Jerusalem 

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Audio Credits:
Star Spangled Banner – USA
Hatikva sung by Enrico Massias 

Visual Credits:

Picture of Rabbi Aharon Soloveitchik courtesy of Picture of Albert Dreyfus – J’accuse! The History of the Dreyfuss Afair. This is Barris! – French History Dreyfuss Humiliation – J’accuse by Gaumont
Picture of Le Petit Journal
Blood Libel Illustration – Leo Baeck Institute – New York/ Berlin

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