The Jewish Element in Bootlegging Evil

The International Jew, by Henry Ford


A student of the liquor history of the United States is left wondering, not that Prohibition came, but that the authorities ever allowed matters to go so far as to compel the people to take the issue into their own hands. That is the point where those who believe in "personal liberty" and those who believe in "public safety" ought to meet each other. It cannot be contended that every believer in Prohibition is a crank, nor can it be contended that every believer in "personal liberty" is a drunkard or a liquor guzzler; each of them stands for a principle that is a principle of right. But the Prohibitionist has been able to command victory over the "personal liberty" advocate because the stuff that the Prohibitionist is against ought not to be sold nor used under any circumstances, whereas the stuff the "personal liberty" advocate thinks he favors is not the stuff he thinks it is at all.

If the element in question were poisoned tooth paste, or opium, or any other concededly dangerous substance, both the Prohibitionist and the "personal liberty" advocate would agree. What the honest "personal liberty" advocate needs to learn is that the liquor which caused the adoption of Prohibition was most dangerous to the individual and society. The question was not one of "liberty" but of safety.

It is scarcely to be hoped that all the "personal liberty" groups will come to agree with this, because most of them are formed of the very men who made and profited by the drugged and chemicalized substances which were sold over the bar and in bottles.

Liquor men themselves must agree with the facts. Even Bonfort's Wine and Spirits Circular admitted years ago that "the bulk of spirits sold today in glass under well-known brands is not what it is represented to be." "The truth of the matter is (we dislike to say it) the wine and spirit trade of this country is honey-combed with fraud, and the most radical measure should be applied and applied vigorously." "Many a dealer prominent socially, morally, religiously and in philanthropic circles will take a lot of neutral spirits, only a few days old, flavor them with a little heavy-bodied whisky, and brand them on the label or glass with the name of any state or county desired, and with any age, and this he will do with all smiles and glee and inward delight that is said to characterize the bold buccaneer when he cuts a throat and scuttles a ship."

These excerpts show how near the official publications of the liquor trade could come to describing the practice and indicating the Jew. The last quotation was a direct hit at Louisville liquor Jews, one of which compounders furnished a room at the Y.M.C.A. of that city, another of whom adorned the town with public gifts, all of whom are Kentucky "Colonels"; though their ancestry is not exactly Kentuckian, nor even American.

The wine companies of Ohio, whose vineyards on Kelleys Island and elsewhere had built up a standard business, joined in the protest. They pointed out that counterfeit wines were flowing out of factories in Cleveland and Cincinnati, while the legitimate wine districts of Sandusky and Put-in-Bay were being saddled with the stigma of poisoned goods. As all the counterfeit business was in the hands of Jews, the statement is unavoidable that the whole movement of the degradation of liquor was Jewish.

Then came Prohibition. The Constitution of the United States was amended, the amendment being ratified by 45 states. The issue had been actively before the nation longer than any other issue except the slavery question, so that the people's action on it must be regarded as deliberate. And the liquor business was legally ended. BUT —

What was the Jewish attitude toward Prohibition while it was being argued before the nation? What has been the Jewish attitude toward Prohibition since it has been adopted?

Both questions can be answered the same way. There are, of course, Kentuckians and others who have convinced themselves that the Jewish compounders foresaw Prohibition and welcomed it, because they saw that it would increase their profits 1,000 per cent. But whatever the truth of that may be, there are no available records to support it. The Jews destroyed the business — that is true; but whether intentionally, for greater illegitimate profits, we cannot say. There are, however, records of Jewish activity during the reform agitation. The Jews were against Prohibition. Their press and pulpit were against it. Their whole influence in politics and finance were against it. They were the backbone of the entire "wet" propaganda, and are today. The great temperance organizations will tell you that Jews did not contribute to their work. One national Prohibition organization admits a gift of $5 in many years. Will Irwin, investigating the early Prohibition movement in the South for Collier's in 1901, found that The Modern Voice, a Jewish religious weekly which is still published, was engaged in carrying the "wet" propaganda into the southern states. The Modern Voice lost more votes than it made for its lack of taste in printing a halftone picture of Christ endorsing the liquor traffic. J. K. Baer, one of the editors of this Jewish paper, explained his activity in this direction by saying, "We are a Jewish weekly, and the Jews are opposed on moral grounds to prohibition." Mr. Rosenthal was associated in the work. This was typical of the Jewish press everywhere. The Jewish stage was enlisted, every man and every girl, just as it is now, to deride those who protested against the destruction of the American people by counterfeit whisky and wine. Jazz music, the movies, fake medical "experts" — every agency under Jewish control was mobilized to assist the fight for a continuance of the privilege of drugging the people's drink.

This will scarcely be denied, at least by Jews. Some "Gentile fronts" may feel obliged to rush to the defense of the Jews by denying it, but their work is unnecessary. Jews themselves make no bones about it. They did not favor Prohibition, but they did not fear it; they knew that they would be exempt, they knew that it would bring certain illegitimate commercial advantages; they would be winners either way. Jewish luck!

It is not surprising, therefore, that violation and evasion of the Prohibition law has had a deep Jewish complexion from the very beginning. THE DEARBORN INDEPENDENT would be glad to be excused from making the raw statement that bootlegging is a 95 per cent controlled Jewish industry in which a certain class of rabbis have been active; we, therefore, avail ourselves of the report of an address of Rabbi Leo M. Franklin, of Detroit, president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, as given before that body at Washington in April, 1921, confirming the general fact:

"In making the recommendation I gave you in my message in regard to this matter, and in going to the extreme in suggesting that we appeal to the government to rescind that part of the Prohibition law which gives rabbis permission to issue permits for the purchase and distribution of wine for ritual purposes, I did so after very mature consideration. I am sure that after (his successor) shall have been in the chair of the conference for any length of time, he will come to exactly the same conclusions as I did.

"You gentlemen, members of the conference, who have dealt with this situation as a local question have had, here and there, some small question to solve; but when you become president of the conference and have letters from every part of the country, almost day by day, asking you as president of the conference to give the necessary authority to all sorts of men in all sorts of conditions, to purchase and distribute wine for ritual purposes, then you will take a different angle on this whole situation.

"I pointed out to one of my colleagues, next to whom I was just now sitting, that within the past month I have received requests from three different men calling themselves rabbis in their communities, for authorization to purchase and distribute wine. I know that I am not exaggerating when I say that during this last year I received requests from not less than 150 men in all parts of the country for permits to distribute wine. . . . I had the applicants investigated, and I may say to you that in nine cases out of ten we found those who were attempting to use this conference, through its executive officers, for the obtaining of this authority, were men who had not the slightest right to stand before their communities as rabbis.

"What were they for the most part? They were men without the slightest pretense at rabbinical training or position who, for the purpose of getting into the wholesale liquor business, if you will, organized congregations. Nothing on God's earth could prevent them from doing so. They simply gathered around them little companies of men; they called them congregations; and then, under the law as it now exists, they were privileged to purchase and distribute wine to these people. And I call your attention to the fact that many of the so-called members of these congregations were not members of one congregation only! (Laughter.) This is not a laughing matter. They were not only members of one congregation, but members of two, three, four and upward. Why, you don't know what good Jews many have become since this law has gone into effect!

"What is more, gentlemen, perhaps some of you don't realize what popularity has come to the — sermon, and how many Jews have suddenly come to realize the beauty and the duty of the Kiddush on Friday night. I tell you it is a mighty serious problem, and say what you will, our conference, under present conditions, is being used as a medium by unscrupulous men by the dozens and by the hundreds to carry on a bootlegging business in the name of religion. . . .

"Now you say there have been just small scandals here and there. A wine company in New York was raided last week and a quarter of a million dollars' worth of wine was taken away by the authorities, supposed to be for ritual purposes. Don't forget that rabbi after rabbi last week in New York, a few of whom I happen to know, and in Rochester, Buffalo, Flint, Michigan, and Port Huron, Michigan — in any number of small towns throughout the country, if you have read your papers carefully, you will find that Rabbi So-and-So has been arrested as a bootlegger."

The discussion of this subject by the other rabbis present was very interesting. There was a request that "personal experiences be debarred," but some crept in. Rabbi Cohen, for example, was quite explicit. "Being one of those who opposed the whole Prohibition law, I am not in sympathy with the whole Prohibition law. . . . It seems to me that we rabbis ought not to stand in the way of our own members in their legitimate ways of getting wine for their homes. . . . If a member wants the wine, I would like to be in a position that he may have the wine, even though he may not absolutely have to have it."

Rabbi Cohen pronounced the typical Jewish view. If the Gentiles want to prohibit themselves from having liquor, let them do it, but if there is a loophole for the Jews such as the rabbinical permit offers, it should be used generously for any "member," "even though he may not absolutely have to have it."

The pre-Prohibition Jewish liquor business is also the post-Prohibition Jewish liquor business. That fact is established by mountainous evidence. This does not mean, of course, that every bootlegger you meet is a Jew, nor that you will ever meet a Jew serving as an itinerant bootlegger. Unless you live in Chicago, New York or other large cities, an actual meeting with the Jew in this minor capacity will not be frequent. The Jew is the possessor of the wholesale stocks; he is the director of the underground railways that convey the stuff surreptitiously to the public; seldom does he risk his own safety in being the last man to hand the goods to the consumer and to take the money.

But notwithstanding all the carefulness, the bulk of the arrests made in the United States have been among the Jews. The bulk of the liquor permits — a guess at 95 per cent would not be too high — are in the hands of Jews. More and more the Jews are being appointed as Prohibition enforcement officers at the central points of distribution. It is a fact, as Rabbi Franklin showed, that part of the trouble arises over the abuse of what has been called "rabbinical wine," but big as it seems by itself, it is really a small part in comparison with the whole. Numbers of lesser rabbis have profited from the sale of liquor, no doubt of that. And not only among their own people, but from any people making the demand. "If you sign a Jewish name you can get it," is the watchword. Newspaper offices have been kept "wet" in some cases by "rabbinical wine," which accounts for the dribble of "wet" propaganda in the so-called humorous and other columns of the evening journals.

It happens that "rabbinical wine" is a euphemism for whisky, gin, Scotch, champagne, vermouth, absinthe, or any other kind of hard liquor. The stocks that existed when Prohibition went into force have not only not deceased, but have actually increased, because of the increase in the "doctoring" of the stuff. It has been cheapened, its bulk has been increased and it has been made, if anything, more deadly than before. "As fatal as bootleg whisky" is a saying founded on thousands of deaths.

The wholesale stocks of compounded liquor remained in the hands of the men who owned them, while the retail stocks in stores and saloons had to be disposed of. That was one of the first big mistakes — that the little fellow was compelled to get rid of his stock, while the big fellow was permitted to keep his. The so-called rabbis who had advance information of the special privileges which the Jews were to enjoy under the Prohibition law, were very active in buying up the smaller stocks and storing them away. Of course, no one could prevent them. Was it not "ritual wine"? — Even though it was any kind of liquor, it went under the "cover name" of "ritual wine," and of course, as everybody knows, great scandal resulted. Protests like that of Rabbi Franklin indicate that a part of Jewish public opinion resents the policy of exempting Jews from the Prohibition law, but this is minority opinion. What the Central Conference of American Rabbis may think is of little consequence to the mass of Jews in America. The people to scrutinize with regard to this is not the Rabbi Franklins, who are amenable to the significance of American opinion, but those Jews who do not consult with Americanized rabbis but run the political end of Jewry as they choose.

There is no reason why the Jews should be exempt from the operation of the Constitution of the United States at all, yet the Constitution is suspended in their favor when the Ten-Gallon Permit is given.

But it would be a great mistake to suppose that there is or could be any objection to the Jews' ritualistic use of wine, or that the present scandal with regard to law violation rises from that. It is not a religious question at all. It is purely a commercial question. The people who are breaking the Prohibition law are the same people who broke the Pure Food law with regard to the ingredients of whisky. They are essentially a lawbreaking class.

The "Gentile boobs" who patronize bootleggers today are being sold a liquor that is never what it is represented to be, in spite of names blown in the bottles, in spite of seals and in spite of labels. The most conscienceless fraud is being perpetrated on gullible people at an increase in profit from 400 to 1,000 per cent. The stuff brought from Havana is Jew whisky shipped there, "doctored" still more and shipped back at increased prices — the "Gentile boobs" fancying they are getting something extra special "just brought in from Havana."

Twenty hears ago Jewish liquor dealers of Chicago were using genuine James E. Pepper bottles refilled with vile ingredients compounded in back rooms. Twenty years ago there were counterfeit whiskies sold in the United States bearing forged Canadian Government stamps. The forgers of the labels were Jewish liquor houses. Twenty years ago there was unlimited faking of liquor labels, a Chicago printing house furnishing Jewish liquor houses with clever imitations of any reputable label in use. Foreign, American and Canadian labels were unscrupulously adopted and brazenly advertised everywhere.

These abuses did not wait for Prohibition; they were daily Jewish practices twenty years ago.

The only difference now is that the stuff which is sold is still worse.

The enforcement of the Prohibition law ought to be rigidly complete, for the same reason that the enforcement of the Pure Food law should have been complete years ago — it is necessary to prevent the wholesale harming of an ignorant public.

The maintenance of the idea of drink in the minds of the people is due to Jewish propaganda. There is not a dialog on the stage today that does not drip with whisky patter. As all the plays making much noise this year are not only Jew-written, Jew-produced, and Jew-controlled, but also Jew-played (the stage swarms with Jewish countenances this year), the drip of whisky patter is constant. If theatergoers were at all observant they would see that most of their money goes to support pro-Jewish propaganda in one form or another, which, is of course, a tribute to Jewish business genius — what other people could embark on a pro-racial propaganda and make the opposite race pay for it.

This idea of drink will be maintained by means of the Jewish stage, Jewish jazz and the Jewish comics until somebody comes down hard upon it as being incentive of treason to the Constitution. When a Jewish comedian can indulge in a 15-minute monologue "panning" the United States, defaming Liberty, heaping contempt upon the Pilgrims, and openly praising a violation of a portion of the Constitution of the United States — and when choruses sing this sort of thing, and slap-stick artists take it up, and it becomes evident that the country is being ringed around every week by repeated attacks upon what the people have established — it is certain not to be very long before a heavy hand will be laid on the whole business.

The Department of Justice should pay some attention to the treason nightly spouted on the legitimate stage before Americans who pay as high as $5 each in support of the propaganda.

First and last, the illicit liquor business in all its phases, both before and after Prohibition, has always been Jewish. Before Prohibition it was morally illicit, after Prohibition it became both morally and legally illicit.

And it is not a cause for shame among the majority of the Jews, sad to say; it is rather a cause for boast. The Yiddish newspapers are fruitful of jocular references to the fact, and they even carry large wine company advertisements week after week.

As before Prohibition the key to the steady degeneration of the liquor business was the fact of Jewish domination, so now the key to the organized and lawless rebellion against a recently enacted article of the Constitution is also Jewish. Prohibition enforcement officers will find a short-cut to successful enforcement along this line. And if law-abiding Jews would help with what they know, the work could be soon accomplished.

[THE DEARBORN INDEPENDENT, issue of 31 December 1921]