Skip To Content

March 16, 2007

Ford Motor Co. Helped Israel in Early Years

A February 16 Shmooze article on the National Jewish Democratic Council’s response to Mitt Romney launching his presidential campaign at the Henry Ford Museum demonstrates an extreme lack of historical understanding on the part of the NJDC (“Spinmeisters, Start Your Engines”).

While satirical in nature, the article raised the issue of Henry Ford and Ford Motor Company’s antisemitic views. I cannot deny Henry Ford’s dislike of most Jews — although his good friend Harvey Firestone, of tire-making fame, was Jewish — but the Ford Motor Company actually played an important part in the founding of Israel.

Henry Ford II, Henry Ford’s grandson, was a strong supporter of Israel and spoke personally with Chaim Weizmann, Israel’s president and international fundraising champion. Ford sold thousands of trucks to Israel at very liberal terms, as well as donated a special presidential limousine to Weizmann.

When we forget history, we lose our identity. The Jewish people should know and respect that fact more than anyone else. The NJDC should be ashamed at its blatant disregard of historical facts in its lambasting of Romney.

Eric Minoff
Wilmette, Ill.

Section Break

Syrian Soldiers Likely Lack the Fighting Spirit

Opinion writer Martin van Creveld fails to make his case that based on “the lessons of the recent war in Lebanon,” a plan he attributes to Syria for war in 2008 has “a reasonable chance of success” (“War Clouds Gather Over the Golan,” March 9).

He belittles the fighting morale of the Israeli military, calling them “crybabies” — or perhaps even worse, “Argentinean” — yet mentions nothing of the fighting spirit of the Syrian army, which has not seen war since before most of their soldiers were born. I find it hard to believe that Syrian soldiers would fight for former ophthalmologist Bashar Assad with the same fanaticism that fires Hezbollah, even if Syria’s new Russian weapons are all van Creveld believes them to be.

More importantly, van Creveld ignores the political differences. Israel went to war in Lebanon last year, but not against Lebanon, taking great pains not to bring down the Lebanese government. If Syria were to attack, Assad and his government would be top targets. And unlike in 1973, Russian weapons no longer come with the same warranty: A Defcon-level threat to the United States to keep Israeli tanks out of Damascus.

Van Creveld also doesn’t explain what Syria’s actual objective would be. Assuming it is to regain the Golan Heights, the emerging Syrian plan that he describes as a good one certainly would not achieve that. Van Creveld foresees no large-scale offensive action by Syria, just a provocation and then a defensive war against air and armor attacks, “to draw out the conflict… until Jerusalem finally throws in the towel.”

But if Syria does not control the Golan when the proverbial towel is thrown, why would Israelis feel pressure to withdraw from what many consider part of their sovereign territory? Israel may have “lost” in Lebanon last year, but it didn’t lose any territory.

To get back the Golan in van Creveld’s scenario, Assad would still have to follow Sadat’s route to peace through post-war diplomacy and concessions. In this age of smart bombs, doesn’t it make more sense for him to do so before war, while his palaces, country — and life — are still intact?

Paul Golin
New York, N.Y.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.