In his own time Douglas Lancelot Reed (1895-1976) was widely-read. Nowadays he is either pretty much forgotten or the mere mention of his name evokes outrage among those Establishment experts who have heard of him. The reason for this outrage isn't hard to find: he drew attention to what he saw as a Jewish conspiracy to dominate the world, and wrote about its history at length in his book The Controversy of Zion. It was completed in 1956, but was not submitted for publication until 1978, two years after his death.
In the obituary for him which appeared in The Times, Douglas Reed was described as a "virulent anti-Semite." A careful reading of The Controversy of Zion, however, shows this to be questionable - even though Reed himself may on occasion have described himself as a writer of anti-Semitic material. In saying that, Reed seems rather to have been referring to his ardent anti-Pharisaism, anti-Talmudism and anti-Zionism. He doesn't however seem to have been an anti-Semite, in the sense of being a hater of Jews, as there are many, many instances where he shows considerable sympathy for ordinary rank-and-file Jews.
Nevertheless, Reed's anti-Zionism, expressed in such implacable terms, makes a first reading of The Controversy of Zion uncomfortable, if not repellent, in that any liberal sensitivities one might have are constantly challenged. Those sensitivities, ingrained by reflections on the Nazi Holocaust, and reinforced by Israeli state propaganda, would equate an attack on any aspect of Jewish cultural or political thinking as anti-Semitic.
In The Controversy of Zion, Reed constantly counters such Western bias, and shows it for what it is - unthinking and unreflective. The question he asks is: Is Zionism actually helpful for Jewish people? In other words, is Zionism pro-Jewish or anti-Jewish? Or, to rephrase it further, is Zionism pro-Semitic or actually anti-Semitic? Reed's book constantly challenges commonly held assumptions about justice with regard to Jewish and Israeli matters. So the question is really about fundamental honesty. How true is the book? What credence do we give to the historical research which forms its foundation? And how humane is the thought which lies behind it?
In writing this book, Reed was attempting to expose a semi-secret conspiracy. This stemmed, he believed, from the time when the Levites succeeded in forming a powerful cabal under the reign of Josiah, King of Judah (640-609 BC). The conspiracy could be detected in its outlines in a particular strand that runs all the way through the Old Testament, but could best be discerned in the book of Deuteronomy. The ambitions of this conspiracy lay in a domination of the nations which surrounded the territory of Judah (and by extension the domination of all the nations of the world), tribute from which, as conquered peoples, would stream into Jerusalem.
In this sense, therefore, the plan was authoritarian and centralized. It was also chauvinist: the Judahites were considered the elect of Yahweh, i.e. his favorite nation. Reed makes the point that this wasn't necessarily what the Levites, Pharisees and Talmudists themselves actually believed. In a sense, it was simply propaganda or a useful fiction, used to justify an elite's takeover and control of the population of Jerusalem. This propaganda also had a coercive effect: it set up a groupthink from which there was no clear route of escape. The culture of Judah was a tribal culture which found its centre in two places: the Temple and the Torah, and it's noteworthy that both of these were controlled by the Levitical priesthood. Ominously, bloodshed was the most notable characteristic of both.
Reed suggests that this way of thinking was rather new - although, presumably, the Indian caste system also suggests a parallel way of thinking, though without the centralisation under one particular deity, or through one tightly organised priesthood. It looks as though, at this period (c. 500 BC), Jainism, Buddhism and other yogic ways of thinking (with their emphases on universalism and non-violence) successfully countered this bloodthirsty current, a current that is exemplified in the Rig Veda - and perhaps goes back to what anthropologists term "endemic warfare", i.e. a state of continual, low-threshold warfare in a tribal warrior society.
Part of the genesis of the Levitical way of thinking - though this is something that Reed doesn't seem to touch on - might be found in the tightly controlled society of dynastic Egypt, which, through much of the Late Bronze Age, was in control of Palestine. Reed points out that there was, round about 500 BCE, a movement towards universalism, i.e. the absorption of different cultures into humanity considered as a whole. It is particularly noteworthy that Judaism, in contrast, resisted such a trend.
The experience of the Judaeans up to the time of Jesus illustrates the way in which people can be coerced into going along with a scheme which isn't at all in their best interests. The Judaeans were pushed and pulled at the same time: pushed into acceptance by suggesting that destruction by foreign powers awaited those who backslid, and pulled by suggesting that world dominion awaited them if they stuck to the course. There was of course no real morality involved in this - but a suggestion of morality, of following good rather than evil, was provided by leaving a prophetic strand in the Old Testament which countered the Levitical scheme. To a careful reader, this gives the lie to the ritualistic "us versus them" hoop-la found in books like Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Ezekiel and Ezra/Nehemiah. But without a careful reading, it just looks as though this con had the backing of a morally good Yahweh, who was simply opposed to idolatry, i.e. the practices of "them", the Canaanites.
Reed makes the point that the Levites and Pharisees were in actual fact the Moloch-worshipers denounced by prophets like Jeremiah. And this is the strain picked up by Jesus, who seems to have been able to take a broader view of things and see things as they really were. From his point of view, as Reed points out in his short chapter on Jesus (which is, perhaps, one of the best expositions in The Controversy of Zion), the Pharisees were the enemies of the cosmic law, insofar as they had invented their own reality, their own story of how things should have been, in the narrative of the Torah. At the same time, having been locked into an official narrative, and having been convinced that a person's life finished completely at physical death, Judaeans were in general caught in a tight little circle of purely linear thinking, deprived of real context. The implications of this type of thinking are plain enough, as Signs of the Times tries to point out: we are dumbed down, deprived of any true historical context, unable through societal Stockholm Syndrome to question the official narrative drummed into us by the mainstream media. The result of this dumbing down means that only one course of action seems to be open - namely, acceptance of the hopes and fears given to us by the powers that be.
A true picture of 9/11 of course demolishes this picture - as does the picture of Zionism presented by The Controversy of Zion. In a similar way, Jesus demolished the Pharisaic picture by referring to the murders of Abel and Zechariah (Luke 11:51). The Biblical scholar Giovanni Garbini infers in Myth and History in the Bible (2003) that this was an allusion to a coup which took place in Jerusalem in 164 BCE, which the Sadducee and Pharisaic parties were at pains not to discuss, because they appear to have had some part in it. This was why Abel's murder (as the story is recounted in Genesis 4:1-16) was allowed to escape retribution, Yahweh being made the protector of Cain, for the single reason that Abel was taken as the forerunner of the high priest Zechariah. Zechariah's murderers were thus also held to be under similar protection from God. Jesus' dry comments indicate what he thought of the Torah, and what his earliest followers thought of it too, a Torah which was clearly being doctored right up to the 1st century CE by the conspirators themselves. No wonder that St Paul's extrapolation of this doctored epic history of Israel ended in a theology which in many ways mirrored the Pharisees' own - and tragically became the standard for the Church.
As a newspaperman, Reed seems most comfortable tracing the labyrinthine intricacies of 20th century politics - and it's been interesting to see how his ideas have been confirmed by later revelations since 1956. However, even on the earliest periods Reed seems to have made some startling conjectures, which have been borne out by recent Old Testament critics of the Copenhagen School, like Thomas L. Thompson and Garbini - especially Garbini, who is not afraid to point to the germination of a definite political conspiracy in the formation of the Old Testament as a propaganda tool. Their works, for example the reconstruction of Israel's history in Part Two of Thompson's The Mythic Past: Biblical Archaeology and the Myth of Israel (1999), and Garbini's History and Ideology in Ancient Israel (1986) and Myth and History in the Bible (2003) are especially worth reading for a radical reevaluation of Old Testament history and social manipulation.
Reed turns next to the Talmud, and whatever we make of his comments on this source (and critical thinking in this area is difficult without real familiarity with the source material), in some ways this may not matter so much, since the evidence from the Old Testament itself is so damning. What does seem to be particularly interesting is that the Church should have been brought to believe that the Old Testament constituted the true word of God. This was later to have particular significance in the 20th century, when Christian politicians lent their support to Zionism, largely because they had been brought up to believe that the Old Testament "promises" had come from God, and were therefore worth supporting.
This Christian support for Zionism seems to have been crucial for figures like Lord Balfour and Lloyd George, and even now remains important (especially in the US) through evangelical Christian Zionism, which has the feel of a revolutionary Judaeo-Christian pact. Messianic expectations have been used to bring Christians into the Zionist camp. How this situation came about is a bit of an epic in itself, and sadly isn't something that Reed deals with at length. What he does do though is cut right to the heart of the matter, by contrasting New Testament teachings with those found in Deuteronomy. Naturally, the two approaches are found to be poles apart.
That means that Zionist Christians (and indeed all Christians insofar as they consider the Old Testament to be the word of God) are actually trying to follow two paths at the same time. No wonder, with this kind of a basis, the history of the Church has been so violent, so strangely contradictory, and so removed from the ways of the Prince of Peace. Reed points to St Jerome as an initiator in this process which led to acceptance of the Old Testament by the Church - not as "historical" background material with which to place Jesus' and St Paul's teachings in context, but as moral instruction in and of itself.
The one passage II Timothy 3:16-17 ("All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.") seems to lie at the root of the trouble. The key point here is that "all scripture" is not defined. Does it actually mean "all writings"? Maybe it does. Perhaps every written source has some sort of usefulness, if it prompts the reader to seriously reflect on what might be going on within the labyrinths of the mind, and in the equally labyrinthine environment where we find ourselves.
So perhaps St Paul was here simply trying to get Christians to read and think. But, of course, the term "Scripture" became narrowed, and thereby corrupted, to refer only to those texts that some authority (e.g. the Pharisaic Council of Jamnia, or one of the Ecumenical councils) considered canonical. That the Church seems to have endorsed the Council of Jamnia on this point is itself peculiar - if not outright suspicious. The point here is that there's no real justification for the Church accepting a resolution of the Sanhedrin, which if anything should have been rejected as fundamentally anti-Christian, since the Sanhedrin was active (according to the Gospel of Mark) in the condemnation of Jesus immediately before his death, and in the condemnation of early Christians.
The point here is that in the formation of the Biblical canon there is a massive vulnerability in Church dogma, and evangelical Christians especially have become victims of the same propaganda as most Jews: an either/or acceptance of Zionist ambitions, the alternative to which is eternal damnation. Christians might benefit from learning that much of the Old Testament is contrary to the teachings of Jesus - just as Jews might benefit from learning that there are two completely contradictory strands within the Old Testament, and that they've been hoodwinked by the assumption that the Old Testament is an essential unity.
Presumably St Jerome (who was particularly doctrinaire, if not downright vicious) had a major part to play in the final crystallization of this process - but there must have been others before him who had come under a specifically Jewish influence in their recognition of the Hebrew canon, as defined by the Sanhedrin. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense; you'd have thought that someone somewhere would have cried, Foul! I expect they did - in the same way that observers on the ground in the 20th century (like Field Marshal Archibald Wavell and Sir Frederick Morgan) tried to inform others about the violence and duplicity of Zionist ambitions, and were simply rebuffed and relegated to obscurity. Reed, of course, shared that fate - as he expected he probably would.
In the modern period, Reed makes some astonishing points about the foundations of the French Revolution in Freemasonry, a brotherhood which had been co-opted by the Bavarian Illuminati to gain power in Europe and America according to a strictly hierarchical model. The structure of this organization was rooted above all in secrecy, with individual agents always conscious of the fact that they themselves were being spied upon, but with the heady excitement that they were involved in a grand takeover of power from the crowned heads of Europe, and would themselves at length enjoy the fruits of this power, and bring about a new heaven on earth in the process.
These secretive methods of taking power seem to have been present among Talmudist Jews in Spain, where a high degree of authoritarian control seems to have been customary, and later in Eastern Europe, where the focus of the Jewish diaspora shifted in the 1500's. To what extent Jewish ghettos were instituted by Christian powers is not entirely clear. What Reed suggests is that ghettos came about primarily because of a desire by Jewish leaders to keep Jews in line by keeping them within a confined city quarter. In a ghetto individuals could be kept under close observation, Jewish leaders could run their own justice system, and a rigid conformism could be enforced.
Reed points out that the Bolsheviks followed a similar pattern of secretive organization and groupthink to that found in the ghettos - and that in the revolutionary fervor of the time, the younger generation of Jewish families in Russia were commonly split in two, with some young men and women actively working for a Jewish homeland in Palestine (the Zionists), while others followed anti-Tsarist and Marxist ideals. Reed unearths buried data that the vast majority of the Leninist leadership was Jewish by extraction. The fact that this information had been hidden, that to talk about it was forbidden, seemed to him an important datum in itself.
As mentioned earlier, Reed really gets into his stride as he reaches the twentieth century. He follows closely the careers of Edward Mandell House and Bernard Baruch, both US presidential advisors, and Chaim Weizmann, who was particularly influential in British foreign policy - and it does seem astonishing that these men enjoyed so much access and influence in high places of power.
In the Epilogue, Reed summarizes The Controversy of Zion as an eyewitness account of the shell game that Western leaders, Jews, revolutionary activists and the newspaper-reading public had all alike been deceived by. His account has a great deal of fire to it. But at the same time it doesn't appear to be mere one-sided polemic. The facts he adduces, as a first-rate journalist, lend considerable weight to his belief that the Zionist adventure was a confidence trick, in which only the Zionists stood to gain. Those who pointed out the con were (and of course still are) denounced as "anti-Semites" - which just goes to show that this type of denunciation is nothing but hollow defamation, and needs to be countered head-on.
So how reliable is Reed as an historian? In answer, three points could be made,albeit from a purely personal perspective:
1. It's heartening that, even though Reed suspects Talmudist involvement in the English Civil War, he is at particular pains to state that he has no evidence to back this up. I think this indicates the careful use he made of the evidence that he did have at his disposal.
2. Reed could be charged with something rather like anti-Semitism in view of the fact that he seems to consider the Khazars (the Turkic group which seems to have formed the original basis of Ashkenazi Jewry) as somehow worse than other groups of people. He frequently contrasts "Asiatic barbarism" with the glories of civilized Western Christendom. I have to say, it always makes me feel rather uncomfortable when he does this. I doubt that the West is all that civilised - as George Gurdjieff once said, Western civilization is really just a lot of violence covered over with fine words. Gurdjieff also said that Europeans usually had very little understanding of quite how rich and subtle Asian cultures really were. I think Reed, as a natural conservative, may have fallen into this trap.
3. Nevertheless, even though he was in some ways something of a tweed-wearing fuddy-duddy - or whatever else you want to call him - he had this openness of mind that's always refreshing to encounter. It's noticeable, for example, that he speaks warmly of both Mikhail Bakunin and Ernest Bevin, who were both very much left-wing in their politics - the first a fiery Russian anarchist revolutionary (whose strong anti-monotheism comes out when he warmly commented, "If God really existed, it would be necessary to abolish him"), the second a down-to-earth British Labour Party Foreign Secretary. Reed's feeling of kinship with both these men marks him as a fundamentally honest and humane man.
But to turn back to Bakunin for a moment: after reading Reed, Bakunin's Polemique contre les Juifs (Polemic against the Jews) now makes more sense in someone who was otherwise such an internationalist, and such a supporter of human brotherhood. The same goes for the widespread suspicions of Jewish ambitions among other radical socialists and anarchists in the 19th century. These were people on the front line against the abuse of power, and were simply not to be put off by authoritarian strictures on what they were supposed to think. They saw the roots of exploitation with their own eyes, and were not unaware that Jewish individuals were working to consolidate power - not openly, but in the corridors of power and in faux-revolutionary movements like the Marxist International, as well as in Zionism, and through the special favor given to moneyed interests by European and American governments.
Secrecy seems always to be a keynote of these dark endeavors - a point which perhaps shouldn't be lost on us when we remember how "national security interests" are always being brought up in support of our governments' unwillingness to share information on what they're actually doing. Even men in positions of power, like Benjamin Disraeli, whose Jewish background seems to have made him more open-eyed with regard to the modus operandi of certain Jews, and Ernest Bevin who was effectively in charge of Palestine immediately after the Second World War, could only do so much in publicizing what was going on behind the scenes. They felt a certain amount of vulnerability, as though they sensed that the power they had access to could be withdrawn if they revealed too much. Or indeed, that ordinary Jews - the great mass of decent Jewish people who were themselves being manipulated - could find themselves in danger if public opinion turned against all Jews as an enemy of the human race.
Of course, it's not Jews who are the problem, and Reed never says this. But there do seem to be some who use the Jewish question as a rationale to promote violence and exploitation throughout Europe and the Middle East. Heroic civil servants like James Forrestal in Washington could do what they could to air their misgivings to their masters about Zionist plans - but to little avail. The tragedy still plays out in the concentration camp of Gaza today.
In the end, it's the monotheistic character of the Jewish and Christian religions that has itself been used as part of a political programme to consolidate power in the hands of a few. Yahweh is at the apex of the pyramid of power. Everyone's bamboozled - revolutionaries and partisans of all sorts are constantly duped and made to turn against each other.
What does this mean for us? Perhaps that the only effective revolution can be achieved by a network of people devoted to an eager exploration of the truth. Only knowledge of how our masters have worked, and are still working, allows us poor schmucks a chance to see how we are being lied to and manipulated. The Controversy of Zion is important because it reveals something of that, and it's ironic that in doing that, it has itself become one of the most controversial books ever.