On Mon­day, Ned Beau­man wrote about Oscar Paniz­za. His debut nov­el, Box­er, Bee­tle (Blooms­bury), is now available.

Hen­ry Ford might be the most famous Amer­i­can anti-Semi­te, but it’s not wide­ly known that the indus­tri­al­ist only nar­row­ly escaped hav­ing to answer for his vit­ri­ol in court. In 1927, the hero­ic Jew­ish lawyer Aaaron Sapiro sued Ford for remarks that Ford had made about Sapiro in his book The Inter­na­tion­al Jew (lat­er pop­u­lar among the Nazi Par­ty). Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the libel case end­ed in a mis­tri­al, and had been pret­ty pre­car­i­ous from start to fin­ish. As Time mag­a­zine report­ed: Dur­ing the life of the Sapiro-Ford tri­al the fol­low­ing events were chron­i­cled: Hen­ry Ford was bad­ly bat­tered in an auto­mo­bile acci­dent. Stu­art Han­ley, lawyer for Mr. Ford, suf­fered a back strain. Two of Aaron Sapiro’s chil­dren came down with scar­let fever. Mil­ton Sapiro (broth­er) splin­tered a wrist in anoth­er auto­mo­bile crash. Sen­a­tor James A. Reed of Mis­souri, chief coun­sel for Mr. Ford, went to the Hen­ry Ford hos­pi­tal with an acute attack of gas­troin­testi­nal trou­ble. Super­sti­tious observers whis­pered that the tri­al was hoodooed.’

What the arti­cle neglects to men­tion is that Ford prob­a­bly con­trived his injuries in order to avoid appear­ing in court. There’s some­thing almost Bal­lar­dian about an auto­mo­bile tycoon delib­er­ate­ly stag­ing his own auto­mo­bile acci­dent. But what I like even more is the bluff that fol­lowed. Sapiro’s team were hav­ing trou­ble serv­ing a sub­poe­na to Ford. Even­tu­al­ly the serv­er threw it on Ford’s lap through the open win­dow when he stopped his car at an inter­sec­tion,’ writes Hadas­sa Ben-Itto in The Lie That Wouldn’t Die, his his­to­ry of The Pro­to­cols of the Elders of Zion. Ford suf­fered severe loss of face when the judge sum­mar­i­ly reject­ed his lawyer’s argu­ment that the ser­vice of the sub­poe­na was faulty, claim­ing that the doc­u­ment had not actu­al­ly land­ed in his client’s lap, but slipped to the floor of the car between his knees.’ One imag­ines that Ford was soon fan­ta­sis­ing about a lux­u­ry ver­sion of his own Mod­el A with two new fea­tures per­fect for the busy anti-Semi­te: triple-gauge crash sim­u­la­tor and vel­vet-uphol­stered sub­poe­na guard.

Check back all week for more posts from Ned for the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and MyJew­ish­Learn­ings Vis­it­ing Scribe.