The International Jew
Anti-Semitism from the Roaring Twenties Revived on the Web

The Dearborn Independent
The International Jew and The Protocols
The International Jew and Jewish Control
The Sapiro Trial and Ford's Apology

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The Sapiro Trial and Ford's Apology

Jews and others were outraged by The International Jew, and Ford received thousands of complaints. In September 1920, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the National Council of Jewish Women and B'nai B'rith asked ADL to counteract Ford's work.
While [The International Jew] once reached thousands, its reach is now even greater on the Internet.
The League released a pamphlet, The Poison Pen, that targeted the Dearborn Independent and the men behind The International Jew. More than 100 prominent citizens, including President Woodrow Wilson, former Presidents Taft and Roosevelt, W.E.B. DuBois, Clarence Darrow, and William Jennings Bryan, signed The Perils of Racial Prejudice, a statement that urged "all those who are molders of public opinion" to "strike at" The International Jew, which it characterized as "un-American, un-Christian agitation."

Prominent lawyer Samuel Untermeyer penned a widely-published statement describing the pernicious effects of the distribution of The International Jew. He wrote:

Wherever there was a Ford car there was a Ford agency not far away, and wherever there was a Ford agency these vile libelous books in the language of the country were to be found. They, coupled with the magic name of Ford, have done more than could be undone in a century to sow, spread and ripen the poisonous seeds of anti-Semitism and race hatred. These articles are so fantastic and so nave in their incredible fantasy that they read like the work of a lunatic, and but for the authority of the Ford name they would have never seen the light of day and would have been quite harmless if they had. With that name they spread like wildfire and became the Bible of every anti-Semite&

Despite these complaints, The Dearborn Independent continued to attack Jews, even after the publication of the articles that constitute The International Jew. In 1927, the paper printed accusations that Jewish lawyer Aaron Sapiro and a group of Jewish bankers and merchants were seeking to control the nation's wheat farming. Sapiro sued for defamation; his case came to trial in Detroit. Though Sapiro's suit was directed personally at Ford, Cameron testified for many days, claiming full responsibility for the articles. He even went so far as to assert that Ford had never heard of Sapiro. This lie was swiftly exposed when James M. Miller, a former Dearborn Independent employee, swore under oath that Ford had told him he intended to expose Sapiro.

Just before Ford was to take the stand, he was injured in an auto accident. While he recovered, Ford operatives demanded a mistrial after a juror spoke to a news reporter. Following the declaration of a mistrial, Ford issued public statements and apologies to individuals and Jews as a group. On July 16, 1927, an out-of-court settlement of the Sapiro suit was announced.

Though Ford apologized for The International Jew and closed the Dearborn Independent, he later accepted the Grand Cross of the German Eagle from Hitler's Nazi government in July, 1938. Some remain skeptical of his apology, claiming that Ford himself neither wrote nor personally signed it.

Ford again expressed his concern about the circulation of The International Jew following America's entry into the war against Germany, for The Protocols had become a staple of Nazi propaganda. In a 1942 letter to Sigmund Livingston, then ADL national chairman, Ford wrote, "I do not subscribe to or support, directly or indirectly, any agitation which would promote antagonism against my Jewish fellow citizens." He pointed out that he "destroyed copies" of The International Jew when he first apologized and had refused to give "permission or sanction to anyone to use my name as sponsoring such publication, or being the accredited author thereof."

In the decades following Ford's death in 1947, what was once a privately-owned business became a corporation owned in large part by the public. Since then, the Ford family and the Ford Motor Company have engaged in numerous projects and endeavors in the public interest, including many that have been supportive of Jewish concerns. Ford's grandson, Henry Ford II, consistently supported Jewish charities and cultural organizations. In 1997, for example, the Ford Motor Company sponsored the first screening of Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List," commercial-free, on national network television.

Next: Conclusion

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This report was originally issued in July 1999

2000 Anti-Defamation League