Why Did Henry Ford Hate the Jews?

Henry Ford actually knew and liked a number of Jews who he knew in the particular. His neighbor Rabbi Leo M. Franklin and prominent Detroit architect, Albert Kahn come to mind. His dislike ran to the abstract concept of Jews operating within the stream of commerce, particularly those engaged in investment banking and agricultural product brokering.

Despite the impact of his mass production on industrial urban growth, Henry Ford’s psyche was deeply rooted in the soil of the farmer and the sensibilities and beliefs of rural America of the late 19th Century and early 20th Century. His rural America was rigorously protestant and Calvinistic, which generally garnered strongly negative views of the Jewish race and traditions. He was known to seed his inner circle with sychophants like the uber Teutonic Earnest G. Liebold, who cheered him on.

Sedulously sensitive to the limitations of his own truncated formal education and bristling from courtroom attacks questioning even his basic ability to read, Ford developed a passion for collecting first edition copies of William Holmes McGuffy’s Eclectic Reader schoolbooks, one of which contained the controversial depiction of Jews in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, which presented a vision of Jews as evil and moneygrubbing, charactristics which were consistent with his own populist views.

Rural America largely viewed Jews as having the anthesis of agrcultural values, as money brokers, middlemen and agents, that reaped the benefits of agricultural production, without turning the soil, while leaving farmers poorer for their efforts. When asked why he was so intent on taking Jews in his wholey owned newspaper, The Dearborn Independent, he replied that he was “only trying to wake the Gentile world to an understanding of what is going on. The Jew is a mere huckster, a trader, who doesn’t want to produce, but to make something out of what somebody else produced.”[1]

Ford was also convinced that the world wars were orchestrated by Jewish investment bankers like the Rothschields in order to enrich themsleves and gain control over the world financial system. Ford despised Franklin D. Roosevelt because of the number of prominent Jews in his administration. He viewed Roosevelt’s domestic program as the “Jew Deal.”

[1] Quoted in Dinnerstein,Leonard,  Antisemitism in America, Oxford University Press, (1984), p.81.

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