FBI apologizes for lack of ‘context’ after tweeting link to anti-Semitic document
The FBI has apologized for a Wednesday tweet linking to its file on the notorious anti-Semitic forgery “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”
The link came from an automated account that links to records that have been requested through the Freedom of Information Act, according to The Washington Post.
“Earlier today FOIA materials were posted to the FBI’s Vault and FOIA Twitter account via an automated process without further outlining the context of the documents,” the account tweeted. “We regret that this release may have inadvertently caused distress among the communities we serve.”
In addition to the document, the FBI link includes communications relating to it, including a 1964 Senate report calling it “fabricated” and “crude and vicious nonsense.”
Earlier today FOIA materials were posted to the FBI’s Vault and FOIA Twitter account via an automated process without further outlining the context of the documents. We regret that this release may have inadvertently caused distress among the communities we serve.
— FBI Records Vault (@FBIRecordsVault) August 19, 2020
The document, which purports to outline a Jewish plot to conquer the world, was forged in Russia in the early 1900s. However, generations of anti-Semites, including Adolf Hitler and Henry Ford, have shared and distributed it as authentic. After the czar was toppled in 1917, his supporters cited the text as “evidence” that the Bolshevik revolution was a Jewish conspiracy.
Despite the nature of the account, the tweet was widely criticized for lacking context.
It’s still up and still completely devoid of context and Nazis are still gleefully sharing it, great job.
— Cody Johnston (@drmistercody) August 19, 2020
It’s not distress; it’s a document that, without context, actively puts Jewish people in danger. And you could delete the tweet. And yet, it’s still right there while you make vague apologize that don’t address the actual thing.
— Racheline Maltese (@racheline_m) August 19, 2020
but it’s still up. You made a lot of Nazis happy. Is that now one of the goals of the FBI? Or did the same staffer who lost the records on white supremacists set up that RSS feed.
— Katherine Locke (@Bibliogato) August 19, 2020
Groups that combat anti-Semitism note that the same tropes popularized by the “Protocols” persist in modern canards such as the QAnon conspiracy theory. During her testimony during House impeachment proceedings, former White House national security official Fiona Hill compared conspiracy theories about Hungarian financier George Soros to the document.
“We have already received reports from many in the American Jewish community who are hurt by the irresponsible way this document was released,” the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement. “We call on the FBI to correct this mistake now, and do better in the future.”
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