Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Book Fair in German City Features Anti-semitic Tracts

October 24, 2005
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Anti-Semitic tracts are on sale at the Frankfurt Book Fair again this year. English-language copies of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and Henry Ford’s “The International Jew” were displayed on the shelves of one of the Iranian booksellers at the fair, according to German political scientist Matthias Kuentzel, who purchased the books there last Friday.

Last year, the book fair, one of the world’s largest gatherings of publishers, was criticized for allowing Arabic book publishers to display Arabic versions of Holocaust denial books and other anti-Semitic texts.

Kuentzel, an author and educator specializing in anti-Semitism and Islam, told JTA that this year the books were available in English.

He found at one Iranian booth the “Protocols,” in an edition published by the Islamic Propaganda Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran; Ford’s book, published by the Department of Translation and Publication, Islamic Culture and Relations Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran; and “Tale of the ‘Chosen People’ and the Legend of ‘Historical Right’ ” by Mohammad Taqi Taqipour, who writes that a global Islamic movement will soon destroy Israel.

The “Protocols,” the most famous of these books, outline a supposed Jewish plan for world domination

German law prohibits the sale of some books, including the “Protocols” and Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” but organizers of the fair, which ended Sunday, told JTA they could take no action unless an official complaint was lodged.

“I could not imagine it,” said Kuentzel, author of the 2002 book “Djihad und Judenhass,” or “Jihad and Jew-hatred.” He added, “It astonished me to see these books in an Iranian stand, in English.”

A spokesman for the book fair, Holger Ehling, told JTA about the procedure for complaints.

If a visitor to the fair spots books that may be illegal, the police are called. Last year, they took no action when called about the books in Arabic, he said.

“We will not enter into any arguments,” Ehling said. “It is not our right to judge and we are not able to judge,” adding, “I have things I feel very strongly about, but this cannot be the basis on which I am allowed to let books in or not.”

He said there are 380,000 titles on display at the fair and publishers are not required to submit lists to the fair organizers.

Kuentzel said it is important that the issue be dealt with differently next year.

“I think the German public should press the point: Either you can’t invite a country that wants to destroy another country” to take part in the Frankfurt fair, “or you have tighter controls so that this does not happen again.”

Recommended from JTA