Hadassa Ben-Itto (Hebrew: הדסה בן-עתו) (born 16 May 1926, Brzeziny, Poland) is an Israeli author and jurist. She is best known for her bestselling book The Lie That Wouldn't Die: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Ben-Itto was born on 16 May 1926 in Brzeziny, Poland, to David Lipmanowicz (1904–1994) and Dvora Broder (1906–1988), both natives of Brzeziny. Her father worked as a building contractor. The family immigrated to Mandate Palestine in 1935, where another daughter, Nira, was born in 1937.
Ben-Itto graduated from the Ma'aleh religious high school in Jerusalem and was an officer in the Israeli army during the 1948 Israeli War of Independence. She married Gershon Ben-Itto (born 1920) in 1950 and had a daughter, Orly, in 1957. The couple divorced in 1982.
After the War of Independence, Ben-Itto studied history, psychology and English literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She earned her law degree at Tel Aviv University in 1954 and took post-graduate courses in law and criminology at Northwestern University of Chicago and the University of Denver. She was admitted to the Israel Bar Association 1955. For the next five years, she worked as a lawyer in private practice, specializing in criminal law.
Ben-Itto was appointed as a judge in Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court in 1960. In 1970 she moved to the Tel Aviv District Court. Between 1971 and 1974 she also taught criminal law at the Bar-Ilan University law school. While conducting a bank robbery trial in July 1980, she survived a bombing attack on her home, which may have been related to the trial. In 1980 she was appointed acting judge in the Israeli Supreme Court, and in 1988 became deputy president of the Tel Aviv District Court. She took early retirement from the court in 1991 in order to write her book, The Lie That Wouldn't Die: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Committees and commissions
During her tenure as a judge, Ben-Itto was appointed to head several government committees, including a committee on prostitution in Israel convened by the Ministry of Justice and a committee on patient rights convened by the Ministry of Health. She was a member of committees dealing with prison reform, probation, and patient rights.
In 1965 and 1975 she was a member of Israel's delegation to the United Nations General Assembly, holding the temporary rank of ambassador. She also represented Israel at international events, including the 1982 UNESCO Conference on Human Rights in Paris.
From 1988 to 2004 Ben-Itto served as president of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists. In 2004 she was elected honorary president, as well as head of a committee to combat antisemitism.
From 1998 to 2002, Ben-Itto was one of the 17 international arbiters (and only woman) on the Claims Resolution Tribunal in Zurich, which adjudicated claims against Swiss banks on behalf of Jewish depositers killed in the Holocaust.
She was the winner of the 1999 Zeltner Prize for outstanding Israeli jurists, and a 2003 citation of merit by the Israel Bar Association.
The Lie That Wouldn't Die
Ben-Itto began to research The Protocols of the Elders of Zion during her years on the bench, using her free time and court vacations to peruse the topic in footnoted academic studies. She found that not only was the subject little-known by Jews at large, but that historical and modern-day antisemitism draws from the Protocols. Desiring to write a book for the general public, she took early retirement in 1991 and spent six years writing The Lie That Wouldn't Die: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The book was published in Hebrew in 1998 and has since been translated into ten languages, including German, Russian, Dutch, Hungarian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Spanish, English, Arabic and Persian.
With a flair for courtroom drama, Ben-Itto's book centers around the 1934 trial in Bern, Switzerland, where the local Jewish community took the local Nazi party to court for publishing the Protocols. While the lower court judge ruled that the Protocols was a work of plagiarism and constituted indecent literature, an appeals court threw out the claim of obscenity while agreeing with the lower court that the Protocols was "absolutely unjustified and outrageous insults and defamation". Ben-Itto then shows how the Protocols is still read and quoted today as a political treatise, even though various courts have declared it a forgery. However the question remains; forged from what?
Since the publication of her book, Ben-Itto frequently speaks and writes about the relationship between antisemitism and current events, such as the 2006 Lebanon War and the Arab world protests of 2010–2011.
- The Lie That Wouldn't Die: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. London; Portland, Oregon: Vallentine Mitchell. 2005. ISBN 978-0-85303-602-9.
- "In This War, the Protocols are to Blame". Haaretz. 22 August 2006.
- "I Am Ashamed". Haaretz. 15 December 2008.
- "The Jewish Conspiracy: A Strategic Weapon to Demonize Jews and Delegitimize Israel". 10 (38). Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. 27 April 2011.
- Eliahou, Galia (1 March 2009). "Hadassa Ben-Itto". Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 20 July 2011.
- "Hadassa Ben-Itto – Curriculum Vitae". Bar Ilan University. Retrieved 20 July 2011.
- Stern, Kenneth Saul (2006). Antisemitism Today: How it is the same, how it is different, and how to fight it. American Jewish Committee. p. 78. ISBN 0-87495-140-2.
- Orland, Leonard (2010). A Final Accounting: Holocaust survivors and Swiss banks. Carolina Academic Press. pp. 312–313. ISBN 1-59460-769-9.
- Gerstenfeld, Manfred (2003). Europe's Crumbling Myths: The post-Holocaust origins of today's anti-Semitism. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. p. 67. ISBN 965-218-045-9.
- Glazov, Jamie (28 August 2006). "The Lie That Wouldn't Die". FrontPage Magazine. Retrieved 20 July 2011.
- Keinon, Herb (3 June 1998). "Conspiracy Theory". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 20 July 2011.
- "The Lie That Wouldn't Die: The Protocols of Elders of Zion". Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. 2 Aug 2008. Retrieved 21 Apr 2013.
- Ben-Itto, Hadassa (22 August 2006). "In This War, the Protocols are to Blame". Haaretz. Retrieved 20 July 2011.
- Ben-Itto, Hadassa (27 April 2011). "The Jewish Conspiracy: A Strategic Weapon to Demonize Jews and Delegitimize Israel". 10 (38). Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.