"King of Kings" (1927) and the Origins of Jewish Cultural Censorship | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

"King of Kings" (1927) and the Origins of Jewish Cultural Censorship

Initially established in 1913 to manage fallout from the conviction of Jewish murderer Leo Frank, the ADL’s first major effort to engage in cultural censorship began in the early 1920s in the form of a campaign against Henry Ford’s Dearborn Independent essay series “The International Jew.” The campaign began with a cross-denominational conference in September 1920, during which Orthodox and Reform rabbis gathered in Chicago to develop a strategy that would suffocate Ford’s momentum and stifle growing American anti-Semitism.[2] The chosen approach was based on crypsis. The rabbis agreed that rather than condemn Ford themselves, they would draw up a statement condemning his writings as un-American and un-Christian and have it signed by prominent non-Jewish American luminaries. This crypto-Jewish manifesto was then signed by, among others, President Wilson and former President Taft, before being published to a gullible public.

The manifesto, however, was later deemed to have had only a minor effect in diminishing Ford’s momentum, so further, more direct, action was undertaken. Detroit’s Rabbi Leo Franklin was dispatched with instructions to personally influence Ford against further publishing against Jews. When Franklin failed to weaken Ford’s resolve, the ADL drafted “anti-discrimination bills” they hoped would preserve the image and status of American Jews, and mailed them to Jewish bodies across the country for lobbying purposes. Concurrently, the ADL initiated a boycotting campaign targeting the Dearborn Independent’s advertising revenue. Ford finally ceased discussing the topic when he was personally targeted in an individual libel lawsuit by Jewish lawyer Aaron Sapiro.