Candid Address to Jews on the Jewish Problem
By Henry Ford(Reprinted from the 7 January 1922 issue of the house journal of the Ford Motor Co., the Dearborn Independent and slightly edited by Raymond Bray to eliminate the numerous uses of "which" for "that" in the original.)
This is a candid address to the Jews of the United States. Without subterfuge, without flattery, wholly without fear of all that they may threaten or can do, this attempt is made to set before them the Jewish Question as their question, theirs to acknowledge, theirs to consider, theirs to solve.
It is not a question of THE DEARBORN INDEPENDENT at all. This paper has merely become the vehicle of unwelcome facts that have finally thrust themselves up for final disposal in this country.
Damning this papeer, compelling cheap city politicians to interfere with its sale, indulging in ribald humor concerning it, will not affect the facts at all. What THE DEARBORN INDEPENDENT says is true, or it is untrue. If true, it ought to be considered. If untrue, it ought to be disproved. The present policy of Jewish leaders is to do neither, but to indulge in antics that go a long way toward illustrating what this paper has said.
What THE DEARVBORN INDEPENDENT says is true, and tens of thousands of jews know it is true.
No representative Jew has ever approached us with a denial of the truth of what has been stated in this paper. Neither has any unrepresentative Jew.
The chief objection made against the publication of the facts is always stated in this form: AWhat you say is true. Certain Jews are guilty of the things you charge. But why do you say <Jew@? Why do you not say Al Wood< Morris Gest, Louis Marshall, Samuel Untermeyer, Edward Lauterbach, Felix WarburgCwhy not let it go with these men's names, why say <Jew'? When you say <Jew,' it sounds as if you blamed all the Jews.@
This objection has been seriously and courteously made by a number of Jews who have conferred with THE DEARBORN INDEPENDENT on this series of articles, and has been as seriously and courteously considered.
What is the answer? First, that these men are Jews. Second, that being Jews these men constitute a problem for the Jews themselves. Third, it is time for some one to call attention to the necessity of cleaning up on that problem. There has been too much mincing of words. There has been too much concealment of names and relationship. The method that the Jews were taking in this country with regard to concealment was heading them swiftly toward the same conditions that have menaced their race in Europe, and THE DEARBORN INDEPENDENT would count no labor lost that would rouse the Jews to a sense of responsibility that rests on them to solve the Jewish Question in this country, possibly the only country where it can be solved.
Let us be frank: if this paper had mentioned only the names of individual Jews, never mentioning their race, and had exposed them as isolated persons, it would have made no difference in the general Jewish reaction, the cry would still have been that Athe Jews were being attacked@; whereas the other people of the country would have been just as much in the dark regarding the close bonds that unite all the groups of evil influences in this country. The purpose of this series of articles is to let in the lightCto show the Jews generally that the stench had become too great, and to show the rest of the people where the stench arose.
The list of charges for the Jews of the United States to consider as affecting the distinguished members of their race is very serious. And the charges are true.
It is true that there is a distinct AJewish idea@ in business and professional life that has eaten away the traditional principles of honor on which Anglo-Saxon life was erected. Every Jew knows that, every non-Jew knows it. Here and there a Jew in business or professional life makes a breakaway from trickery, deception, dishonesty, and exploitation of the gullible public, and achieves success with honor, but that Jew also knows that the majority of his brethren in the same line practice different methods.
It is true that behind the amazing degeneracy of the modern stage and motion picture is a solid wall of Jewish ownership and control. This ownership and control must bear the responsibility for the rapid and dangerous deterioration that has come since such ownership and control was achieved.
It is true that behind all the shoddy and make-believe and adulteration in the staples of life is the Jewish idea of profits, :@making the ephah small and the shekel great,@ and that the initiators of American business into these shady practices were Jewish. It is idle to retort that apt pupils have been found among non-Jews; the point is that before Jewish influence began to be felt in American business, sound quality and a fair price were the rule. It is the Jews' ceaseless boast that wherever they go they change business, but not for the better.
It is true that beneath all the network of trivializing influences in literature, art, politics, economics, fashion and sport, is Jewish influence controlled by Jewish groups. Their Orientalism has served as a subtle poison to dry up the sound serum of Anglo-Saxon morality on which this country thrived in its formative years. Is it necessary to specify? In every movement toward a lower standard, a looser relationship, especially toward the overthrow of the old Christian safeguards, do not Jewish names predominate?
These charges and many more have all been made in detail with evidence submitted, and need not be repeated here. The present purpose is simply to get the problem squarely before the Jews of the United States.
These charges are true, they cannot be disproved, Jewish leaders have not attempted to disprove them. Thousands of Jews have said that they are true.
Then where is the obstacle to a settlement?
This question is best answered by three typical replies made by Jews during the course of the present series.
1. AWhat you say is true, but you should not say it.
There is a principle, seldom expressed among the Jews, but always acted on, that Jews should not have public attention called to them except by themselves or their chosen spokesmen. This is unfortunate, because any establishment of the Jews as an accepted and trusted part of the general citizenry must include their being known as such. In this country the Jew should not only welcome the widest knowledge (unless he has something he fears to have known) but should himself undertake the exposure of those things that will eventually bring a shadow on the name of his race. The Jew has never done this. When exposure could no longer be suppressed the Jewish attitude has always been one of defense, regardless of the merits of the case. AThe Jew can do no wrong@ is the principle acted upon. Never must a AGentile@ charge be admitted, however true it may be. Never must a AGentile@ reform be assisted, no matter how much needed.
Now that principle may do for other countries, but not for the United States. If the Jew is wise he ought speedily to take warning that in this country the old line of action will not succeed. If Jews continue to show a disposition to defend the malefactors of their race against the just expostulations of the rest of the people, they must not be surprised if the public begins to view them as all one crowdC an inner nation set against the outer nation.
2. AWhat you say is true, but your conclusion is wrong: it is not for the Jew to change to your standards, it is for you to change to the Jew's standards.@
This is the fighting view. It admits that there are two ideas in conflict in the United States, what it unfairly terms the APuritanic@ idea, opposed by what it calls the Jewish Universal idea.
This view would command respect if it represented a superior morality in conflict with a lesser morality, if it represented a higher civilization against a lower civilization. Will any Jew contend that it does? Will any Jew deny that the influence of the Jewish idea in this generation is to break down such morality as we had? Will any Jew deny that the civilization of the United States before the advent of the Jews thither was s superior to the highest civilization every achieved by the Jews anywhere at any period of their history?
There are two ideas in conflictCthat is certain. The Jewish idea has a tremendous infiltrating force and a serious degenerative power. It is a powerfully disintegrating influence. It eats the substance out of the civilization that it attacks, destroys its moral virility, throws down its reverence, saps its respect for authority, casts a shadow on every basic principle.
That is the way the Jewish idea works in American civilization. Moral gravitation being, like physical gravitation, downward, it is not difficult to seduce human nature to lower levels, but it is a massive task to lift it to higher levels of morality and reverence and sober justice. And this latter task, organized Jewish effort has never attempted. The campaign in the United States is a campaign for the breakdown of the ideas that now obtain, not a lifting of them to a higher degree of nobility.
If it were an attempt to substitute the austerity of the Mosaic lawCthe law given to Moses, not the ordinances decreed by MosesCfor the half-hearted Christian idealism of the day, even that would be a task in which all right-hearted men could join. But Moses condemns the modern Jews more severely than anyone else could. They have rejected the Mosaic law. They have built their international power upon the exact opposite of the Mosaic law. Moses was given a law of human society that would have saved civilization it greatest tragedies. Moses has a social program, obedience to which for one day would completely wreck the Jewish international power. Moses is their judge, and when the Law is established Moses will be their destroyer.
Let the Jews think seriously what is this idea that they set up to follow. Let them penetrate the mists and seek out where this idea originated. Let them think forward and visualize the effect if this idea should become regnant. It will not become regnant here; there are safeguards here that the true Israelite will understand; but it is as certain as day that the idea will in the end destroy, utterly destroy, all who trust in it.
This much is gained, however, from the attitude we are now discussing: we have gained clarity of understanding as to just what it is that is in collision; it is two ideas; and one of them is the idea of disruption, fostered by the false and delusive hope that disruption will spare the disrupter.
3.@What you say is true, and we Jews could change it if we only would. The trouble is, we don't want to seem to be driven to it. But I don't see how otherwise we are to do it.@
Many Jews will recognize this sentiment as their own, but they will be readier to express it to a non-Jew than to a Jew. Why? Because prophets must be prepared to suffer in Judah. AWell, if you insist on playing Christ, you must expect to be crucified,@ said Lilienthal to Isaac Wise. AOh Jerusalem, that stonest them that are sent to thee!@
Yet there is need of prophets in Judah today, men who will rise among the people and tell them plainly. The rabbinate is utterly bankrupt of the prophetic spirit. It has fallen into the blindness of the old priesthood. Here and there a literary man attempts to speak, but Jewish Aart@ has so accustomed the Jews to make-believe that the writing is looked upon as a performance, nothing more.
No one with a sense for such thingsCand there are believers still left in JudahCwill doubt that the times are ripe for a great change respecting the Jews. So strong is the feeling among the remnant of believing Jews that it is interpreted as forewarnings of the Messianic period. Among the Judaized Christian sects, other interpretations are given to the times, most of which are used to support political Zionism, which represents the materialism and unbelief of present-day Judaism and which will undoubtedly fail as a national restorative and as a political program. But however misinterpretative these sectarian and Jewish conclusions may be, they indicate a sense of imminent change. A greater change is indicated than migration to Palestine would beCfor that would not mean any change at all in the world, and certainly no change for the better in the fortunes of the Jews. ChristiansCmisguided Christians, one must sayCwho see God's alleged will of universal Jewish dominion fulfilled by means of the Jews' defiance and despite of the Law given to Moses, ought to re-examine their ground for so strange and immoral a conclusion. The break-up of this civilization, this age of civilization, will occur because of the collapse of this system by which the Jew has obtained his hold on the nations. The system that gives him his hold is doomed, is passing, and the fallacy of Jewish tribal destiny to rule the world will pass with it.
With this change already on the threshold, prophets should be expected to arise in Judah to recall their people to the Law whose previous denial meant their overthrow. These prophets will not be of the AReform school,@ which denies the God of Israel as a divine Person, nor will they be of the ultra-orthodox school that makes much of fringes and cookeryCthey will be of the race of the ancient prophets who spake boldly against Judah's violation of the fundamental law.
Our confidence is that a sufficient number of Jews will see the truth and act upon it.
What would be the greatest overturn the present Jewish idea, the disruptive Jewish idea, could possibly have? This: a knowledge that the way they are going is the way their own Law foredooms to failure, and that the people they hope to triumph over are the people their own Scriptures say they are not to triumph over.
The first is beyond dispute: there is no success for the Jew, no establishment of him in the world except upon the basic law given to Moses. In any other attempt he must fall when the structure collapses.
The second is in dispute, but is by no means beyond consideration, especially by Jews. In these matters the Jews are much wiser than the so-called Christians. There is among the Jews Athe law of the brother@ and Athe law of the stranger.@ The Alaw of the stranger@ permits several important things that the Alaw of the brother@ prohibits. The Jews have been treating the rest of the world, often intentionally, sometimes as a matter of course, according to the Alaw of the stranger.@ This is one of the influences that has helped to solidify Jewry against the rest of the world.
Suppose it should be shown that the people in whose lands the Jews have never been persecuted, the people of those lands to which the Jews have never been Adriven@ but to which they have hopefully and joyfully come, are not Astrangers@ and are not to be treated as Astrangers@ and, so far from being Astrangers,@ are really the leaders and rulers of that ethical stream of influence of which the Jews, but for their disloyalty to their destiny, might have been an important part!
Suppose it should be shown that Judah, the Adriven@ mart of Israel, has been blindly attacking the Aled@ part of Israel. Suppose it should be shown that Judah is not the Israel upon whom great destiny is to come, but a small part of that Israel and not even a participating part, until it Areturns, returns, returns.@
If these things should once take hold of the intensified consciousness of Judah, as facts, there would be such a change in human society in general, such a change in the Jewish situation in particular, as would make a return to Palestine a mere summer excursion in comparison.
Jews are thinking about those very matters now. They are thinking from within. They are seeking a reason (the thoughtful among them) for the sense of unfitness that they feel when they adopt the traditional attitude of enmity toward the Aothers,@ the Aothers@ in this case being the Anglo-Saxon peoples. The reason for this sense of impropriety is that here, in this land, the Jew will have to change his attitude of antagonism and dwell in peace as in a land prepared for him. Not as lord of it, by an means, but as a grateful wanderer at last come home. Not as a ruler, but as adding his bit to the righteousness, prosperity, and peace of the people.
It is not a question of religion. Let the Jew get back his Mosaic religionCit is the most perfect social system ever devised and directly contrary to the practical modern Jew's idea of things.
It is not a question of intermarriage. Let the Jew keep as long as he pleases his idea that he is racially different. The suggestion of intermarriage is a crude one and always indicates a lack of grasp of the Jewish Question.
Let the Jew keep all his traditions. They are not objectionable in any way; the slightest regard for them can only hold them as romantic.
But let him shed his false notion of Athe Jew against the world!@
Let him shed his false program of breaking down Christendom by the infiltration of Orientalism into business, art, entertainment, and the professions.
Let him abolish the false ideal that it is an honor to Jewry to save a guilty Jew from the common law, and a disgrace to Jewry to see a guilty Jew punished by the common law.
Let him draw up notice to all the Jews of the United States who by hook or crook are sowing vile seed in society, that the Jewish community charges itself with their misbehavior and will use methods well known to Jews to bring that misbehavior to an end.
Let the Jew end forever the disgrace of an anti-defamation committee that grows frantic over innocent remarks on the part of AGentiles@ and is absolutely indifferent to the misdeeds of thousands of Jews who do more damage to the Jewish name than all the AGentile@ critics and newspapers could do in twenty years. No one can give the Jews a bad reputation but the Jews themselves.
Most Jews who have given this matter a thought will agree. A good deal of bad temper exists among them, no doubt, and it will be hard for them to admit that anything THE DEARBORN INDEPENDENT may contend for is right, but the idea here expressed, when divorced from this paper, does command respect from many Jews.
The question remains: When will they start on the program here suggested?
Human nature being what it is, they will hate to start at all if it will seem that the present agitation has compelled them. But would they have started without the agitation?
Is it possible for an additional number of Jews to catch the thought that this series of articles cannot be so easily explained awayCwe are not referring to the contents now, but to the fact that these articles exist at allCas being the creation of prejudice or hatred or vindictiveness or ignorance?
Suppose these articles should be truly a sign of the times for American Jewry! Suppose they offer a warning word, however unwelcome, and a light, however undesired, which it would be most unwise for Jews to ignore.
Suppose these articles were conceived in a spirit far different than the average pro-Jewish spouter is competent to understand. Suppose the ultimate benefit will be mostly Judah's. Suppose the set time has now come for the Jews to quit their attitude of attacking everyone who shows them the truth, and to profit by this report of the poor figure they cut in American life today. Suppose these people who are moved to search and report the truth about Judah are truly the shophar calling the people to a new dayCis it wise to let stubborness counsel? Is it wise to let pride close the ear?
The enemies of the Jews are those who defend them for the pay of hire or praise or votss. The enemies of the Jews are those who bespeak them fair to their faces and express quite different thoughts behind their backs. The writer of this personally knows that two of the principal AGentile@ defenders of the Jews, men who have shouted and ranted through the Press on the Jews' behalf, are men who privately hold and express thoughts about the Jews that are sheer hatred and enmity andCfear. Mostly fear! The enemies of the Jews are those who encourage them to take and attitude that they cannot hold in AmericaCnot as affecting their personal liberty at all, but their social attitude and the Public Right. These are the enemies of the Jews, and yet these are the ones whom Judah counts his friends. They are hired friends, false friends, incapable of realizing for a moment what this whole Question means. Judah's friends today are those who will speak the surgical truth to him, braving his fury in the knowledge that the future will justify the word.
Judah's leaders have betrayed him in this countryCthey do not know they have crossed the Jordan. The Jews are as sheep without shepherds in this land. And the chief objection that the Jewish leaders have to THE DEARBORN INDEPENDENT is that the Jews may read it and learn how shepherdless they are, the Jewish leaders' opposition to THE DEARBORN INDEPENDENT rises mostly from the fear that the Jews may read it! The Jews have read it, and they have not found hatred, they have not found abuse and calumny, they have not found ignorance and malice; they have found statements of fact calmly set forth, not to arouse hatred among the non-Jews, but to arouse a sense of social responsibility among the Jews.
These are significant times. The emergence of the Jewish Question is a part of the culmination of destiny that has come upon us, nor for harm but for good. The Jews must uncover their eyes and unstop their ears, and they will see the beginning of the end of their travail, and they will hear that to which they have been too long heedless.
The Justification of a discussion of the Jewish Question is the good for the Jews, and the greatest present obstacle to that good is the Jews themselves. The time is here when they shall see it.