(JTA) — The FBI explained why it tweeted a link to a 139-page selection of the bureau’s files on anti-Semitic text from the early 20th century “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”
Hours after the FBI Records Vault sent the tweet on Wednesday afternoon without context, here’s what the FBI tweeted:
“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. 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 thread continued.
Some Twitter users took the original tweet as a promotion of the message in the “Protocols.” However, the Twitter account regularly tweets declassified archival FBI documents. The original tweet spurred thousands of responses: Some Twitter users cheered it, while others condemned it.
Many responses to the “context” tweet called on the FBI to delete the “Protocols” link and others called for an explanation to be included with the original tweet of the document.
Marianne Williamson, a Jewish former candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, responded: “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 Auschwitz Memorial and Museum in its response to the original tweet responded: “The context of the antisemitic hoax is there, deep inside the documents. Context REALLY matters.”