Today in Jewish History: On February 3, 1934, the first mention of an Antisemitic speech by Benjamin Franklin appears in the American pro-Nazi weekly magazine “Liberation.” There is no evidence anywhere that Franklin ever gave such a speech, and the text, known as “The Franklin Prophecy”, has been completely debunked as a forgery.
The “Prophecy,” which claimed to argue in 1787 that immigrant Jews presented a danger to the newly-formed United States, continues to circulate antisemitic forums on the Internet, and has been referenced by Osama Bin Laden, among others. Similar antisemitic quotes have also been attributed to George Washington and been disproven. Antisemitism in America is not a new thing.
In truth, Franklin was generally seen as friendly to Jews of 18th-century America, and he is said to have contributed toward the building of Philadelphia’s first synagogue, Mikveh Israel.
Pictured: An article in the New York Times in 1937 exposing the forgery for the first time.