The impetus for the concerned but unrigorous personal documentary Protocols of Zion was a taxicab confession: An Egyptian cabbie in New York City repeated the false and insidiously persistent post-9/11 conspiracy rumor that Jewish workers had secretly been warned to stay home the day the Twin Towers were attacked. The passenger was Slam director Marc Levin, who, ethnic identity aroused, got to thinking about the persistence of anti-Semitism, which had never before affected him personally.
Levin identifies the discredited 19th-century publication Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which warns of a nefarious plan for Jewish world domination (and is still, unfortunately, a hot seller), as the ground zero of anti-Semitic fallout. Then he talks, superficially, with various anti-Semites, as well as some anti-anti-Semites. In addition, the filmmaker keeps himself squarely on screen. This is fine when he engages in throwdowns with the bigots but distasteful when Levin shows himself reacting to footage — unseen by viewers — of the beheading of reporter Daniel Pearl. Using evidence of one man’s murder as an element in another man’s commerce feels painfully wrong.