In reading some recent history, I came across an open letter from Osama bin Laden to the American public. In it, he claims the typical "Jews own your banks and media" stuff. But he also claims that Benjamin Franklin warned us about that possible future.

You are the nation that permits Usury, which has been forbidden by all the religions. Yet you build your economy and investments on Usury. As a result of this, in all its different forms and guises, the Jews have taken control of your economy, through which they have then taken control of your media, and now control all aspects of your life making you their servants and achieving their aims at your expense; precisely what Benjamin Franklin warned you against.
- Full text: bin Laden's 'letter to America'

There's certainly no shortage of people, modern and past, saying such things. But did Benjamin Franklin say any thing like this?


1 Answer 1


It seems what Bin Laden was referring to is the so-called Franklin’s Prophecy.

The US embassy also makes this connection:

Osama bin Laden referred to Pelley’s “Franklin Prophecy” forgery in his 2002 “Letter to the American People,” in which he complained about supposed Jewish power in America, stating that this is “precisely what Benjamin Franklin warned you against.”

This opinion article in Ha'aretz quotes American historian Charles A. Beard as saying (after searching for the source of Franklin’s Prophecy):

All these searches have produced negative results. I cannot find a single original source that gives the slightest justification for believing that the ‘Prophecy’ is anything more than a bare-faced forgery. Not a word have I discovered in Franklin’s letters and papers expressing any such sentiments against the Jews as ascribed to him by the Nazis — American and German.

The article does admit that Franklin made some Anti-Jews statements in letters that he sent, but those cannot be seen as a prophecy:

However, despite his famous liberality in matters of religious opinions, Franklin actually did on several occasions use anti-Jewish language in his letters, though this language does not come near the vitriol he is purported to have publicly uttered in the “Prophecy.”

Examples of such letters can be found here (credit for finding the reference goes to @tim).

So, to answer your question, it's most likely a no.

  • 4
    It should maybe also be noted that the source of the quotes is a far-right website which publishes plenty of antisemitism. The quotes are linked to more credible sources and seem genuine, but it's probably still worth mentioning that the source is biased (I normally do, but forgot in this case). Another option would be to just link to the more credible sources directly.
    – tim
    Mar 9, 2017 at 16:45
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    "...use anti-Jewish language..." Even that might be exaggerated. I looked at the given reference and could only find some personal opinions about single persons which also happen to be Jews. Franklin doesn't imply that the personal behavior is related to their religion. It seems quite harmless and even the term "anti-Jewish language" might be way exaggerated. Mar 10, 2017 at 7:56

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