NATIONWIDE — The FBI Records Vault issued a formal apology after their Twitter account shared links to the bureau’s files on “The Protocols of The Elders of Zion,” a decades-old text that espouses the dangerous conspiracy theory that Jewish people are seeking world domination.
The tweet, which was issued with no context or explanation, sparked confusion and anger from social media users.
The FBI later issued a statement via a series of tweets saying the documents were released through an automated system that sends links to documents unsealed through a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request.
“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 FBI Records Vault tweeted on Wednesday. “We regret that this release may have inadvertently caused distress among the communities we serve.”
“The FBI often receives information from members of the public, which is captured in our permanent files and released under FOIA law. The FBI must process historical files that were collected in the past, some of which may be considered offensive,” the statement continued.
But many viewers weren’t satisfied with the explanation, especially considering the links included scanned excerpts of the original “Protocols” text. The records also included official U.S. government analysis on the text, one of which referred to the “Protocols” as a “fabricated ‘historic’ document.”
None of this context was immediately available in the FBI’s original tweet.
Organizations like The Anti-Defamation League slammed the FBI for not making such information readily available.
“While there is no reason to think that the FBI shared this material out of malice or due to antisemitic animus, it is concerning that the FBI’s twitter account did not clarify in the tweet that the digitized file was of historical interest, and released the file without any additional context or description of this work as virulently antisemitic,” the ADL wrote in a statement.
“We have already received reports from many in the American Jewish community who are hurt by the irresponsible way this document was released. We call on the FBI to correct this mistake now, and do better in the future,” the statement concluded.
Other public figures echoed the ADL’s statement, with many urging the FBI to delete the original tweet entirely.
Former presidential candidate Marianne Williamson blasted the FBI's tweet: “This isn’t about needing more “context!” And it’s not about “causing distress.” It’s about the most vicious anti-Semitic propaganda ever created, which has caused persecution and murder on a vast scale at times and in places throughout the world. TAKE IT DOWN!!!!”
The “Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion” was originally published in Russia in 1903 and perpetuated the false claim that Jewish people had a secret plot to take over the world. The text has since spread and been used by the likes of Hitler in order to “justify anti-Semitic legislation and suppression of all opposition to the Third Reich,” according to the Anti Defamation League.