NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff has described Amazon’s defence for selling The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as ranging from “appalling to mind-boggling”.
Alhadeff wrote to Amazon Australia last week after seeing a number of controversial titles for sale, including one titled The Jewish Hand in the World Wars.
“By providing a platform for individuals to buy and sell such flawed and racist texts, Amazon is in fact contributing to the deeply concerning global increase in antisemitic incidents which we are currently witnessing,” he wrote.
In its reply, the multinational online seller said the Protocols listing had mistakenly omitted an editorial note providing context on why the book was for sale, and that “as a bookseller, we believe that providing access to written speech is important, including books that some may find objectionable”.
“We are mindful of a global history fraught with book censorship, and we do not take this lightly,” Amazon Australia’s press office continued.
A similar statement was provided to The AJN, however, the listing of The Jewish Hand in the World Wars was not addressed.
The editorial note under the Protocols listing states that Amazon does not endorse it, but “strongly believes that providing open access to written speech, no matter how hateful or ugly, is one of the most important things we do”.
Amazon does have guidelines banning the sale of products “that promote, incite, or glorify hate or violence towards any person or group” or “that promote intolerance based on race, religion, and sexual orientation”; however, books, music and video products are exempt from this ban.
Its content guidelines for books state: “We provide our customers with access to a variety of viewpoints, including books that some customers may find objectionable.”
Alhadeff noted that Amazon itself “readily acknowledges that Protocols is one of the most infamous examples of racist propaganda ever written and it blatantly promotes antisemitism and persecution of Jews”.
“Despite all that, it asserts that providing access to written speech – no matter how hateful – is important,” he said.
“It is clear that Amazon is profoundly aware of the inflammatory and fraudulent content of this book, written with one agenda only – the destruction of the Jewish people. We urge it to remove this listing and publicly take a principled stand against the escalation of bigotry around the world.”