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The Ford Foundation Carries on the Legacy of Its Namesake

Created from the fortune of one of the most notorious antisemites in American history, the Ford Foundation now rushes to aid Gaza without making mention of the Israeli hostages held there.

The Scroll
October 23, 2023
Ford Foundation president Darren Walker in 2019

Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ford Foundation president Darren Walker in 2019

Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images

This article is part of The WASPs Funding Antisemitism.
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The president of the Ford Foundation, Darren Walker, announced on Thursday that his foundation would be supporting “immediate humanitarian relief efforts in Gaza and the Middle East” and dedicating its resources to “provide life-saving support and other essential needs to the affected Palestinian civilians in Gaza.” Walker made no mention of the more than 200 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, whom Israel has demanded be released before it restores humanitarian aid to the territory. Walker, described by the New York Times in 2019 as “the man with $13 billion checkbook” for his role leading the philanthropic giant, founded by one of America’s most notorious antisemites, spoke earlier this year at the conference of the Jewish Funders Network, “a global community of private foundations and philanthropists whose mission is to promote meaningful giving and to improve philanthropy in the Jewish world,” according to the network’s website. There, Walker chided attendees that they had “missed the mark” in failing to keep extremist rhetoric out of the public square. 

According to sources, Walker’s invitation came at the suggestion of Rachel Garbowe Monroe, president and CEO of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, who introduced him at the event. Neither Walker nor Garbowe Monroe responded to requests for comment.

The Ford Foundation is a major funder of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, both of which regularly criticize Israeli “apartheid,” and it has more recently donated millions to the Tides Center, part of the dark-money Tides Network that, as the Scroll reported yesterday, funnels money from progressive billionaires such as Peter Buffett and George Soros to anti-Israel NGOs, including IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace, which organized the Oct. 18 rally at the U.S. Capitol against the Israeli campaign in Gaza. (The Tides Center has also referred to Israel as a “settler colonial” and “apartheid” state on its website.) The Ford Foundation ceased all of its philanthropic activity in Israel in 2011. Walker was scheduled to visit Israel this summer but canceled for unspecified reasons, according to sources familiar with the matter. 

Reached by the Scroll, Andres Spokoiny, president and CEO of the Jewish Funders Network, said that it was an evolving situation and declined to comment at this time.

On Sunday night, Walker issued yet another statement.

Henry Ford, our founder, was among the twentieth century’s most virulent American antisemites. And yet, to me, our past confers a special obligation to engage, not to retreat—no matter the complications or the consequences.

No explanation was given as to why this statement was released.

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