WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump lauded the “good bloodlines” of notorious anti-Semite Henry Ford on Thursday, drawing immediate rebuke from American Jewish groups.
“The company, founded by a man named Henry Ford,” Trump said after touring a Ford Motor Company plant in Michigan. “Good bloodlines, good bloodlines. If you believe in that stuff, you got good blood.”
Ford is famous for disseminating anti-Semitic writings, including “The International Jew,” which was published by the Ford-owned Dearborn Independent newspaper in four volumes.
He also funded the printing of half a million copies of the anti-Semitic hoax “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” in the 1920s. The text blamed Jews for trying to achieve global hegemony and influenced Adolf Hitler.
The head of the Anti-Defamation League Jonathan Greenblatt called on Trump to apologize, noting Ford’s famous belief in the genetic superiority of the white race.
“Henry Ford was an anti-Semite and one of America’s staunchest proponents of eugenics,” Greenblatt tweeted. “The President should apologize.”
Henry Ford was an antisemite and one of America's staunchest proponents of eugenics.
The President should apologize.
If he doesn't know why, our backgrounder on Ford's legacy will help:https://t.co/U3uxpdEDto https://t.co/0CdzCGLKvu
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) May 22, 2020
The Michigan Jewish Democratic Party also criticized the president for his remarks, which it said showed a “breathtaking indifference to the history and the welfare of Michigan’s Jews.”
“It is no coincidence that Donald Trump has presided over the steepest rise in anti-Semitism in generations,” said Noah Arbit, founder and chair of the Michigan Democratic Jewish Caucus, in a statement. “The president is not only an apologist for anti-Semites, but has himself engendered severe hatred of Jews with his rampant conspiratorial, racist, and hateful speech.”
Last week, the ADL released new data that showed more anti-Semitic incidents in 2019 than any other year over the last four decades. That included a spate of high-profile attacks against Jewish institutions in Poway, California, Jersey City, New Jersey, and Monsey, New York.
Trump’s remarks also come after far-right protesters have held multiple demonstrations outside the Michigan state capitol to demand a reopening of the state despite the coronavirus pandemic. A number of them have donned swastikas and other Nazi insignia and hoisted confederate flags and nooses. Some have wielded automatic assault weapons.
Many rally-goers have compared Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who enacted a shelter-in-place order to stop the spread of the virus, to Hitler.
The demonstrations have put the local Jewish community on edge, in fear over whether the protests might escalate. Trump himself has praised the protesters, calling them “very good people.”
“I am worried,” David Mittleman, a Michigan attorney told The Times of Israel two weeks ago. “The fact that the president encourages this behavior is frightening.”