By on December 13, 2012

Henry Ford II and Israeli premier David Ben Gurion, Ford HQ, Dearborn 1951

One of the neatest parts of being a car guy living in the Detroit area is that you hear stories about the people in the auto industry. Some of those stories are obviously apocryphal or urban legends, others have the ring of truth but can’t be verified. Last night at dinner I heard one of those stories, only in this case the source is credible and willing to say it on the record. Whenever the topic of Henry Ford comes up, almost invariably Ford’s shortcomings as a human being get mentioned, in particular Henry’s infamous antisemitism.Since Henry Ford’s great grandson Billy Ford recently named Mark Fields, who is Jewish, to be FoMoCo’s Chief Operating Officer, great-grandpa’s Jew-hatred has been mentioned in much of the media coverage of Fields’ promotion. In a way that’s unfortunate because when Billy’s uncle Henry Ford II ran the car company he made it his personal mission to reach out to the Jewish community with a hand of sincere friendship. I don’t think it’s inaccurate to say that Fields could be COO of Ford today because the Deuce ran the company two generations ago. The story I heard last night is evidence of that.

Henry Ford II, his last official Ford portrait

My source is Prof. Harold Josephs, Ph.D, a (full) professor of engineering at Lawrence Tech in Southfield, just outside Detroit. Dr. Josephs is a cycling buddy of mine and I consider him to be a man of considerable integrity and credibility. Before he started teaching at LTU, he had a long career as an engineer at Ford. According to Lawrence’s website, his areas of expertise are “dynamics, kinematics, bolting and joining, mechanics of materials, quality, reliability, safety and ergonomics. He is a member of the SAE, ASME, the American Society of Quality, the American Society of Safety Engineers, the National Society of Professional Engineers, the System Safety Society, the National Academy of Forensic Engineers (fellow status), the Human Factors Society, and the Michigan Society of Professional Engineers (fellow status).” Not exactly the kind of guy who makes up stories.

Max Fisher presents Henry Ford II with an award from the United Jewish Appeal

My mom took me out for dinner for my birthday (I’ve been waiting my entire life for 12-12-12) and Dr. Josephs and his wife came in to the restaurant soon after we sat down. I mentioned Fields and asked Josephs, who is an Orthodox Jew, if he’d ever experienced any antisemitism while at Ford. He said sure, but that it was always from individuals, not an institutional or corporate culture thing at Ford. He’d hired into Ford in the early 1970s so he was there when Ford II was in charge of he company. When I mentioned that the second Henry Ford did a lot to try and change attitudes at Ford about Jews and vice versa, Professor Josephs told me that in 1973, during the height of the Yom Kippur war, Henry Ford II came down to the engineering labs to meet with a colleague of his who was active in the Detroit Technion Society.

Henry Ford’s grandchildren. Left to right: Henry II, Josephine, William Clay, Benson

The Technion, founded in 1912, is Israel’s equivalent to Cal Tech or MIT, a world class engineering school. Over the years, Detroit’s Jewish community, particularly engineers and other technical folks, have supported the school both financially and academically (PDF). Alex Taub, who had a major role in the design of Chevy’s “Stovebolt Six” engine and later, during WWII, worked on the engine for Britain’s Churchill tank, made by GM’s Bedford subsidiary, gave a series of lectures on automotive engineering at the school in the early 1950s. Since Israel was one of the few places in the Middle East that didn’t have oil deposits (a situation that has apparently changed, according to recent discoveries) Taub recommended that the young country use ethanol as a fuel.

When his father Edsel, who by then was running FoMoCo, died in 1943 and Henry Ford reasserted control of the company, the United States government discharged Henry Ford II from the Navy. Ford Motor Company was a critical military supplier and the government could not afford for it to be run by an always crazy and now senile man. The junior Ford brought in the so-called “whiz kids” who turned what had been Henry’s feudal fiefdom into a modern corporation, along the way helping to introduce modern postwar cars in the ’49 Ford.

While Henry Ford II was making his visit to the Ford engineering lab in October of 1973, graduates of the Technion furthering their studies abroad were busy flying home to Israel as their reserve units were called up. In the early days of the war, Israel was losing. I know that sounds unlikely since Israel’s military strength since the Six Day War has been significant, to say the least, but in the first days of the ’73 war, the simple fact is that Israel was losing a war it could not afford to lose. Though Israel survived, it came at a great cost. In three weeks of fighting there were ~3,000 Israeli war dead in a country of with a population then of only 3.3 million people. The surprise attack on Yom Kippur on two fronts by Syria and Egypt left many of Israel’s front line aircraft shot down or damaged. Egyptian forces had crossed the Suez canal and broken through Israeli lines in the Sinai peninsula. On the Golan Heights the situation was perhaps more precarious for the Israelis because there was no huge buffer of the Sinai desert between Syrian forces and Israel proper. Desperate tank battles raged on both fronts. In the Sinai some of the largest tank to tank battles in military history took place. On the Golan, fragmented Israeli tank crews fought against remarkable odds while the country mobilized its reserves, the bulk of the Israeli armed forces. If you think you’re a badass, do a search on Zvika Greengold or Avigdor Kahalani. Would you take just two tanks into battle against 200? One of those returning engineering students had been going to school in Ann Arbor where I’d been attending Michigan as well. He was a tank commander and flew home even before his unit was called up. In battle he had his tank blown out from under him. Relatively unscathed, he was still not cleared to return to active duty by the IDF doctors. When I saw him again in Ann Arbor the fighting was still going on, there wasn’t yet a ceasefire. His commanding officer told him to go back to school, that the tide was turning and that they’d still need engineers after the war.

Due to  people like my friend, and even more so guys like Greengold and Kahalani (and a ballsy move by Ariel Sharon to counterattack across the canal, cutting off Egyptian forces on the Sinai and in Egypt proper, forcing a ceasefire) the tide indeed started turning in the war. After some equivocating (and perhaps the loading of Israeli nuclear weapons on planes just as US spyplanes made their scheduled overflights), Richard Nixon approved the emergency shipment of a billion dollars worth of weapons, mostly jets and tanks to replenish depleted Israeli materiel. Fighter jets rolled off American assembly lines, were fueled up and flown non-stop to Israel, refueling in midair because no European countries would allow them to land, landed at IAF bases, painted with numbers, squadron livery and Israeli flags, and put directly into combat. In the summer of 1974 I worked in a scrap yard adjacent to the Detroit Industrial Railroad lines, a few miles south of the Tank Arsenal in Warren, where they built M-60 tanks. Enough tanks were shipped via C5A Galaxy superfreighters to Israel in October 1973 that the following year, all summer long on my lunch break I watched trains running fully loaded with tanks for the US to get its own reserves back up to normal levels.

Henry Ford II, Max Fisher and unidentified IDF officer, Sinai peninsula, 1972

Some say that Ford II wanted to change his company’s image with the Jewish community. Until the 1970s, many Jews would not buy Ford products. Others say it was a personal thing – Ford’s friend was philanthropist Max Fisher. They met when Mrs. Fisher and one of the Mrs. Fords worked together to bring the Metropolitan Opera to Detroit for a performance. The two men had completely different backgrounds. Ford was the grandson of one of the world’s most powerful industrialists, born to wealth, privilege and power. Fisher was mostly a self made man, having grown his immigrant father’s oil reclamation business into what eventually became Marathon Oil. Despite their seeming difference, they were best friends from the early 1950s until Ford’s death in 1987.

Chaim Weizmann, first president of Israel (in hat and beard), with his Lincoln Cosmopolitan Presidential Limousine, just like Harry Truman’s, a gift from Henry Ford II

Regardless of the reasons, Henry Ford II was an early and visible supporter of Israel (PDF). After Zionist activist and chemist Chaim Weizmann was named to the ceremonial position of Israeli president and met Ford while touring the US, Ford sent him a Henney bodied Lincoln Presidential Cosmopolitan Limousine to use as a state car. Ford Motor Co. had 18 Lincoln Presidential Limousines made during President Truman’s administration. Nine were leased to the White House, and another eight were prelocated around the US in cities likely to be visited by President Truman. Henry Ford II’s regard for Dr. Weizmann and Israel can be seen from the fact that the Weizmann Lincoln was the only one reserved for the use of a person other than the president of the United States. Weizmann used the car until his death in 1952. That car actually still exists and was restored about a decade ago by the respected restoration unit of RM Auctions. The restoration was a partnership of the Weizmann Institute of ScienceFord Motor Company, and Delek Motors (Israel’s importer and distributor of Ford and Lincoln vehicles). It is now on display at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel.

In 1950 Henry Ford II again met with Weizmann and approved FoMoCo sales of trucks to the Israeli government on generous credit terms. In 1951, Ford hosted David Ben Gurion for a luncheon at Ford HQ when Israel’s first prime minister visited Detroit. Ford and Fisher were vacationing with their wives together on a yacht somewhere in the Mediterranean when the Six Day War broke out in 1967. Fisher interrupted their cruise to fly to Israel in his capacity as an official of the United Jewish Appeal. When he got home to Detroit there was a hand-written note from his friend Hank, “I’m sending this check because I believe in the cause.” Ford’s check to the UJA, not his first and certainly not his last, was in the amount of $100,000, not a small amount of money in 1967. Other Jewish affiliated charities like the ORT educational organization received corporate donations from Ford Motor Co. while Henry Ford II was chairman (ORT sponsors another highly regarded Israeli engineering school, at the Hebrew University). In the 1970s, Mr. Ford was instrumental in setting up Israeli assembly of knocked down kits of Ford trucks at a plant in Nazareth. He publicly thumbed his nose at the secondary boycott by Arab countries of companies that did business with Israel. According to Ford biographer Boonton Herndon, Ford told Fisher, “Nobody’s gonna tell me what to do.”

When Henry Ford II decided to drop into Ford Engineering at the height of the Yom Kippur war, that war was still a close run thing, with Israel’s fate still in the balance. One of Joseph’s senior colleagues at Ford was Jack Stone, who’d worked on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos as a young electrical engineer. Stone had been an active supporter of the Technion since before Israel’s independence in 1948. When he visited the engineering department in October of 1973, Hank the Deuce asked Stone to use his contacts to find out what Israel needed that Ford Motor Company could supply. Stone made inquiries and the word came back “tank carriers”. The Deuce asked what a tank carrier was. Apparently, by then Israel had enough tanks, but not enough heavy equipment lowboys to haul the mechanized armor to the battle fronts. Ford got on the phone to Ford of Europe and arranged for appropriate trailers to be immediately transported to Israel.

When Professor Josephs told me the story, I asked for and received his permission to quote him by name as a source for this post. This is the first time that this story has been published, or, as far as I know, told in public. Concerning the man who had the GT40 built just to show Enzo Ferrari that if he couldn’t be bought out, he’d get beaten, the man who said, “Never Complain, never Explain

Now I’m not saying that for those acts Henry Ford II deserves that Yad Vashem memorialize him as one of the Righteous Among the Nations. I’m sure he had a while to go before he could be considered as selfless as Raul Wallenberg or Sempo Sugihara. Grosse Pointe in 1973 was not wartime Hungary or Lithuania. At the same time, though, as a human being the man was a notable improvement on his eponymous progenitor and that deserves to be acknowledged and publicized. Because of Henry Ford II’s actions, I think it’s fair to say that while antisemitism was indisputably part of Ford Motor Company’s history, it hasn’t been a part of the company’s present since Hank the Deuce was in charge.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can check out the parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

72 Comments on “Henry Ford II and the Jews – Righting a Wrong...”


  • avatar
    mike978

    A great article and some great history. Unfortunately old and now unwarranted perceptions take a long time to die.

  • avatar
    W.

    Ronnie;

    Great article, and thank you very much for pointing out one of the true great heroes of history, Wallenburg. Far too many people know about him, or his tragic end.

    Tim

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Even fewer know that he attended the University of Michigan.

      There are a couple of Wallenberg memorials in Budapest … If there, seek them out for quiet contemplation of what he risked, endured, saved and accomplished.

  • avatar

    “It is well that the people of this nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be revolution before tomorrow morning.”

    Henry the First

    put that on your Fiscal Cliff.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    Thank you for your interesting and in depth insight on this subject at Ford. From Adolph Hitler having a framed picture of Henry Ford on his desk, to this is an impressive image change to say the least.

    While slightly on topic, and somewhat car related, Sarah Silverman wrote her song about Jews who drive German cars, yet she drove a Ford Focus on The Sarah Silverman Program. Maybe that’s part of the image change, or she’s oblivious to Ford’s past Jewish image problems.

  • avatar
    mikey

    A good read Ronnie,very informative.

  • avatar
    Ex Radio Operator

    During the 73 war we took a trip to D.C. to visit family. On the way we passed an Airforce Base in Georgia or Alabama. There were several dozen F-4s lined up by the perimeter fence with no US Airforce insignia on them. On the trip home we passed by again and the F-4s were gone. Wonder where they went.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Look to the Life magazine article on the war, there is a prominent pic of an F-4 in action… Saw it, a back issue, in 7th grade … Made such an impression on me, I recall it to this day.

  • avatar
    BigMeats

    A wonderful portrayal of moral commitment to a great people who are presently slandered by most of academia and the blogosphere.

    Also a reminder that all of our fathers have both horns and a halo.

  • avatar
    raph

    Good read and as for Henry I being a Jew hater, every once and awhile I hear that as a nonsensical reason for skipping over Ford for another brand. Always seems to be a younger person trying to find some idealistic pedestal to stand on.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Good article, Ronnie. It’s another reminder of how nuanced people and companies can be.

    As an aside, anyone who thinks the ‘land for peace’ deals will ever achieve peace hasn’t been watching the news for the last decade.

  • avatar
    jeoff

    Thanks.

  • avatar
    bg

    Sara Silverman should drive a Mercedes 600 because she is a “Groisser Shanda”. Not to dismiss Henry Ford Sr.’s anti-semitism, but he didn’t grow up around jews, the Deuce did. Diversity is America’s strength. Like Lindbergh and Ford Sr., many were fans of socialism, so when the National Socialists (Nazi party) came into power, there was much hope that socialism (and communism) would lead to a more advanced, more egalitarian society. But as we learned from the Bolshevik revolution, the socialist revolutions in 1920s Europe, the Iranian revolution in the 1970’s, from Woody Allen’s “Bananas” and from the Who, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss!”

  • avatar

    My Grandfather was a Rabbi and wanted to buy a Mercedes that one of his parishioners was selling, but since the majority of his congregants were Holocaust survivors, he felt it to be in poor taste. He never bought a Ford either, but that might have been because he was a dyed in the wool Mopar man.

  • avatar
    MarkP

    Nice article. Thanks.

  • avatar
    areader

    Something for Jews to think about is how they are viewed by the world’s population in general. Their support has fallen due to their racist behavior re. the Palestinians as indicated by the recent lopsided UN vote. Even in the US, their policies are dimly viewed by the younger and more educated public. Reader comments in the MYT and FT are overwhelmingly critical.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      What is racist about separating yourself from people who have pronounced as their mission in life to kill you and demonstrate their sincerity every opportunity they get?

      • 0 avatar
        ChiefPontiaxe

        Apparently if you don’t stand idly by when your population is terrorized by rockets then you’re a racist. Also, if Jews bowed to the wishes of the world’s population in general then they would have disappeared over 2000 years ago. Also notice how the OP equates Jews and Israelis?

      • 0 avatar
        OldandSlow

        Tel Aviv is 45 miles from Gaza – which is within range of an Iranian supplied Fajr-5 missle. The pre-1967 border to the West Bank is 30 miles to the East of Tel Aviv.

        The Middle East is not the friendliest place with regards to relations between different ethnic groups. That holds true for Sunni and Shia Muslims as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      I don’t get the whole settlements thing … I always thought Israel might have been perceived more favorably if they had instead held those lands “in trust” for a brighter future day. Doing that would have removed a self-controlled point on which Israel takes heat.

    • 0 avatar
      Yeah_right

      Allow me to gently suggest you broaden your sources. Israelis are not saints, but there is only one functioning democracy in the mid-east. We should support it.

      I write this as an utterly agnostic former Catholic. And a car nut.

    • 0 avatar

      Sigh.

      “Something for Jews to think about is how they are viewed by the world’s population in general.”

      Do you realize that you just asked a question that is identical to one asked by Jew-haters throughout history? What’s wrong with the Jews that people hate them so? If Jews were one of your anointed groups, you’d be calling your own statement blaming the victim.

      As for “racist behavior”, this post was not intended to be a defense of Israel, rather a defense of Henry Ford II and his company under his leadership, however, since you raised the topic, while only a naive fool would deny that Arabs in Israel have civil rights issues or likewise deny that Jews have some legal advantages the fact remains that about 20% of Israel’s citizens are Arabs, some Christian but now mostly Muslim (in formerly Christian towns like Nazareth in Israel and Bethlehem in the Palestinian authority, Muslims have been pushing Christians out). Israeli Arabs have full political rights, run their municipalities and about 10% of the members of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, are Arabs. There’s at least one Arab member of the Israeli supreme court. Speaking of the Israeli judiciary, it tilts left politically and tends to rule in favor of Arabs in civil rights issues. While many Israeli Arabs identify with the Palestinian cause, when given a choice of where a final border might be drawn, they want their towns on the Israeli, not Palestinian, side of any proposed border.

      Now compare that to the Palestinian Authority which governs the West Bank and Hamas which rules in Gaza. In the PA it is a capital crime to sell land to a Jew. Yes, they will execute people for selling land to Jews. Hamas’ charter is full of classic antisemitic conspiracy theories and calls for the extermination of Jews.

      So tell me, which society is the racist one?

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        Ronnie,

        Facts don’t disturb the mentality of racists. They’ve already made up their minds.

      • 0 avatar
        d524zoom-zoom

        Great write-up Ronnie…very enlightening. Thank-you

      • 0 avatar
        baygus

        And you know, as someone who lives nowhere near Israel I couldn’t care less which society is the racist one.

        Which society is successful and has good reasons to maintain a true national pride? Israel.

        Which society hosts a large number of Ashkenazim, who have consistently punched well above the weight of the people they spent most of their past thousand years of existence alongside, let alone the people who fill the rest of the world? Israel.

        If the Egyptian and Syrian carpetbaggers who immigrated to the Land of Israel following the return of that nation’s people simply vanished tommorrow, no human being would suffer (obviously it wouldn’t be convienient for the Middle East’s Arab rabble rousers, or UN bureaucrats or human rights organizations.. but I repeat myself).

        Scientific breakthroughs and genuine cultural contributions- see the ‘overcontribution’ by Jews which has netted them so many Nobel Prizes- impress me a lot more than the development of ever greater degrees of squalor on once-great land.

  • avatar
    Volts On Fire

    Interesting article, and particularly relevant now that we’ve reelected a president that has single-handedly made class envy and racism fashionable again.

    • 0 avatar
      schmitt trigger

      V-O-F;
      I understand the part about class division, but how exactly has Obama made racism fashionable again?
      I’m willing to be educated with the proper arguments.

      • 0 avatar
        Volts On Fire

        Not necessarily in the way you might expect, though of course Barry O and his divisive policies present an obvious target to anyone harboring ill will against blacks.

        Look also at the increasingly bold and violent statements being made against whites by prominent members of the African-American community, most recently by actor Jamie Foxx. They feel empowered because they know Barry has their backs.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        A great President would target the divisiveness on both sides and encourage citizens of all races and creeds to seek out the best in each other.

      • 0 avatar
        sfdennis1

        @VOF
        Honestly, someone, ANYONE (hello moderator?) should call out your pathetically veiled racism and general ignorance.

        “Made racism fashionable again?!” HAHAHAHAHA!!! Whatever helps your massive denial, and allows you to sleep at night, pal.

        The frothing at the mouth opposition to anything the POTUS says or does, and your derisive and condescending post, show that reactionary racism and outright hatred have seethed under a thin veneer all racial tolerance in large segements of the (conservative) population ALL ALONG. Once again, you prove yourself to be an excellent poster child for this illogical animus.

        Yeah dude, “Barry” secretly wrote Jamie Foxx’s opening SNL monolog, riiiight. And he’s got Black Pathers homeschooling his daughters at the White House. And he’s a comin’ ta take all your guns away! (NOT!) And he’s a secret muslim personally leading the war on Christmas! Oh, the humanity!

        Honestly, turn off Glenn Beck, Hannity and Limbaugh and rejoin the rational majority…it’s rotting your brain. You can disagree with the POTUS, and will have an opportunity to make your case to the American voters in a few years (good luck with that)…but to blame President Barack Obama for the latent raciam in our country is beyond delusional.

      • 0 avatar
        Volts On Fire

        All you need to know about the noted scholar, sfdennis1:

        http://lmgtfy.com/?q=sfdennis1

    • 0 avatar
      DrunkenDonuts

      Volts’ comment is obviously pure trolling, but it’s par for the course for the internet. Take a topic that has nothing to do with Obama, and BOOM!, suddenly make the subject of the article Obama’s fault. It’s the internet equivalent of burning a cross in someone’s yard.

      As for class envy, GOOD. The working class needs to realize when they’re being played. Wages for the average working American have been dropping for decades, while CEO, executive, and shareholder earnings have had massive increases. When a CEO can bankrupt a company, lower wages, steal pension money, increase his own pay, and receive a golden parachute, you know something is wrong. I feel bad for the workers of Hostess that I just described.

      • 0 avatar
        kenzter

        +1

      • 0 avatar
        baygus

        Oh heck yeah.

        It must be rich people’s fault that more underclass, working, and middle-class people are getting divorced, and that wages are thus falling at the low end as more of those caught in the fallout take part time jobs.

        But why blame the media and political elites responsible for America’s decline? Let’s just blame well-off people in general, including those who are successful in doing things that human beings actually want and need.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    We seem to be becoming needlessly political. Good story that does not need to be embellished with comments dedicated to a political persuasion.

    I was in the Med on a submarine in 1967 while the world around me was chaotic. I was glad to see Israel survive. I think that it’s creation has been a miracle wrought by people who wanted to do the right thing. I wonder if they would have done so if they had known of the kerfuffel they were creating.

    • 0 avatar
      baygus

      Prior to the heinous destruction of civilization that took place after 1941 or so, few people would have anticipated that anyone could oppose the restoration of the people of Israel to their homeland.

  • avatar
    vb9594

    Great article. I am Jewish and harbor no ill will toward Ford (lust after a Mustang GT). That being said, Henry I was a miserable prick who is far more responsible for international anti-semitism than people realize (read: Henry Ford and The Jews, great book). Hitler actually thought Americans would embrace his policies because of what he saw/heard from Henry Ford. That being said, Henry II was a good man and FoMoCo no longer deserves any sort of anti-semitic label. Much success to Mark Fields- I relish the thought of him eventually being CEO, if for no other reason than to know Henry I is turning over in his grave.

  • avatar
    jz78817

    very nice story. I was in a few of Prof. Josephs’ classes while I was attending LTU. interesting to find out more about him.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      I well remember his lab with zillions of DC nut runners that were being tested… It sounded like zip-zip-zip times a thousand… One room over was the anechoic chamber where it was quiet as a tomb…

  • avatar
    -Cole-

    Q: Was Ben Gurion an arab hater?

    A: Who cares?

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      As Israel’s 1st Prime Minister, I’m pretty sure he was interested in what they were up to.

    • 0 avatar

      Considering that under Ben Gurion’s leadership of the young state of Israel, Israeli Arabs were granted citizenship and legal status with considerable political and religious rights and freedoms, it’s hard to call him a hater of Arabs. The Israeli declaration of independence, written with considerable influence from Ben Gurion, specifically establishes minority rights. “The State of Israel… will uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of race, creed or sex; will guarantee full freedom of conscience, worship, education and culture; will safeguard the sanctity and inviolability of the shrines and Holy Places of all religions”

      I’m sure that Ben Gurion made a politically incorrect statement or two, at least by today’s standards, but then he had no illusions about those who were trying to destroy his country.

      As for being a hater, Ben Gurion probably hated Menachem Begin more than he hated Arabs.

    • 0 avatar
      baygus

      Q: Would the world be a better place if he had been?

      A: Of course.

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    Excellent read. I am distributing this to coworkers.

  • avatar
    brandeselitch

    Ronnie,
    This is an extraordinarily well written and well researched article. It never ceases to amaze me that even forty years later the truth is still emerging, after we thought we knew it all! Congrats to TTAC for publishing it. I must now add you to the list of my favorite car writers, Sanjeev and Jack!

  • avatar
    CopperCountry

    A great story. This is exactly what makes TTAC such a great site: bringing us these unique perspectives on how cars, technology, the auto industry, and people are intertwined … and how they sometimes converge to bring us miraculous results.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Good read Ronnie. I think the 2nd to last paragraph is missing something after “explain”. Btw, to fill out the story a bit more, I’d like to suggest that you try to contact Mary F. or Kathy D. F., there might be an interesting book in it, comparing the differences between HF flavors I and II.

    • 0 avatar

      Hmmm, not sure how that got left out. This is what I meant to say:

      “This is the first time that this story has been published, or, as far as I know, told in public. Concerning the man who had the GT40 built just to show Enzo Ferrari that if he couldn’t be bought out, he’d get beaten, the man who said, “Never Complain, never Explain”, well, this story sounds like exactly the same man.

  • avatar

    Thank you individually and collectively for your incredibly kind comments. They are both gratifying and humbling. I thought Dr. Joseph’s story about Henry Ford II was a great story and deserved to be known by a wider audience. Your comments validate those feelings. Once again, thanks.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    A well told story on Henry II. One that I wasn’t aware of.

    The Lincoln Cosmopolitan story was something else I was acquainted with. What a massive automobile.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    I do not think these sorts of items are particularly fit for a car site, in spite of the fact that the subject is a Ford, inasmuch as it goes beyond the topic of the politics of cars. However, since it has been broached, I will reflect.

    I agree with the late Jewish political scholar, Leo Strauss, that the Zionist program is politically problematic, while being ethnically sound. I disagree with Strauss on his opinion of Churchill, but agree with him about the questionable results of WW II (the rise of what some have not uncritically termed Jewish Bolshevism, and the communist enslavement of Eastern Europe, etc).

    From a modern standpoint, the Middle East has no upside for America, whether from a Jewish or Arab standpoint, but neoconservatism (falsely attributed to Strauss, by the way) has been our most recent guiding foreign policy principle, while its precursor, left-liberal interventionism, was in place since WW I.

    Since it can all be traced to the Kali Yuga, perhaps an Indian car would be the way to go. Especially if it had a few extra arms.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Very nice and interesting article, Ronnie, and certainly worth my time to read.
    Not to defend Henry I at all or anti-semitism, which seems to date back to the late Middle Ages, but, as a general matter, it is always a dangerous exercise to apply today’s moral calipers on what we know of some historical figure. It should be done carefully. We all exist in the context of our time, not someone else’s.

    That said, I had a priest once who was firm in his belief in human progress, or as Martin Luther King called it, “the long arc of history.” His evidence? The worldwide abolition of slavery.

    So this small story of progress in the Ford family was very much worth telling.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      “anti-semitism, which seems to date back to the late Middle Ages”

      I’d say it really goes back to the time of Abraham, roughly 4000 years. Minor nit, unless your a Jew (which I am not).

      Haman was an early and notable “Hitler” who wanted to exterminate the exiled Jews in Persia, about 2500 years ago. This story can be found in the Book of Esther. Not many people know that Haman also drove a Ford.

  • avatar
    waltercat

    Mr. Schreiber, an excellent and fascinating article. I’ve learned a lot from it, and it gives me a new perspective on the evolution of the Ford family.

    Have a great Chanukah – b’shalom.

  • avatar
    Carl Kolchak

    As someone who just recently found I am ethnically part Jewish, I loved this story. As for politics, the automobile is politics on 4 wheels. Energy policy, urban planning, environmental and privacy issues, all wrapped up in a shiny box.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Very interesting read. The topic of Henry Ford, and issues with Jews, cars, and history has made for some interesting discussions at my friend’s house in the 80s. My friend’s family was Jewish, but hardly the religious type. Rather well to do, they bought cars frequently. Being the Malaise Era, they began to drift away from domestic cars. He refused to consider a Mercedes Benz, and cited WWII atrocities. BMW was never mentioned as they really did not have the desirability at the time amongst non-enthusiasts they way they do now. Soon a Toyota and then later a Legend graced their driveway. At a social event the “no German car” thing came up. I asked him if he can’t forgive present day Germany for the Holocaust, how can he forgive Japan for Pearl Harbor? Is your allegiance for Israel greater than that for America? To say we had a interesting discussion would be an understatement…

    • 0 avatar
      ChiefPontiaxe

      Growing up in a Jewish family, we had no problems buying German cars- my dad reminded me that Germany now is one of the biggest trading partners of Israel. He did have a problem with buying a Ford, but now I’m going to forward this article to him and tell ol dad to shove it!

    • 0 avatar
      baygus

      Japan’s war against America was no extermination campaign.

      That said, there are many many very good reasons why patriotic Americans did and continue to refuse to buy Japanese.

      It is an interesting sidenote that Japan and many other East Asian countries are great fans of the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’- a 19th century forgery that puts forward a conspiracy by the Jews to dominate the world. The difference between WWII Japanese and modern day Koreans reading the book, and the likes of Henry Ford then and raving neo-Nazi’s today, is that the Japanese leadership looked at the ‘Jewish plot’ and thought “Hey, that makes a lot of sense. Let’s get into this game, and bring some Jewish refugees over. They ought to be able to teach us something about how they’re fooling the other lot.”

  • avatar
    Monty

    Thanks Ronnie, for the excellent and informative read.

    I believe that shining a bright light on the dark side of our psyche and bringing to light racism, or any “ism” will hopefully consign such beliefs to the dustbin.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Henry II is on the Nixon tapes discussing auto safety with Iacocca. I think labor issues as well. Thankfully no anti-semitism from Nixon though on other tapes and with Rev. Billy Graham they make Farrakhan blush. Nixon did have Israel’s back in 73 though historians debate whether it was strategic thinking support of the Jewish state or to prevent Soviet encroachment in the Middle East.

  • avatar

    Excellent read, Ronnie. Thanks a million!

    Maybe I’m a little too emotional about this, but my next car will definitely be a Ford. If FoMoCo hired you to crank out a fuller book-sized treatment, it would be the best PR money they ever spent.

    I’ve daydreamed about converting to Judaism and getting a passport to Israel, but individual tax rates there are even more than America’s.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Hitler’s legacy of: Hate = Ignorance + Fear lives on to this day. It is slow to dissipate, even through the swirling currents of history… I’m glad to see that the effort to reduce ignorance is still alive (as evidenced by Ronnie’s great article).

    It’s important to remember that ignorance applies to all sides of an issue – it has no “polarity” – we should fight for the rights of all whenever possible – treat no one human family as superior to another.

  • avatar
    TheDoctorIsOut

    Never had been a regular reader of this site though I liked it. Found this story by accident only today, will stop by daily now. I had thought on occasion there must have been a reason Jews chose Cadillacs instead of Lincolns after WWII, thought it was connected it to Henry I. Maybe Lincoln would have been more successful over the years if it wasn’t.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States