Paul L. Newman is correct (Letter, March 22) that “corporate cultures can change,” and, therefore, he is “proud to have stopped abiding by his grandparents’ boycott of Ford” motor products. Newman may also be correct in his historical lecture to writer Jay Deitcher (Back of the Book, “You Are What You Drive,” Feb. 21) about the difference between the German and Japanese car makers’ treatment of prisoners of war and even about Jewish-owned Pepsi observing the Arab boycott of Israel.
In his piece, Deitcher noted the history of the Ford Motor Company, owned by Henry Ford, a flagrant anti-Semite who also owned the newspaper The Dearborn Independent, which actually published the notorious “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”
In his letter Newman proudly claims ownership of Ford vehicles for the past 30 years because “Henry Ford II did teshuvah for his grandfather’s sins,” as he “not only sold cars directly to Israel but set up an assembly plant there in 1968” in the face of the Arab boycott of Israel.
While we certainly should say “thank you” to the grandson, what he did was not “teshuvah,” which requires the actions of the sinner, not the actions of a relative.
Also, according to the Rambam, teshuvah requires regret, confession, and a vow not to repeat the same sin; Henry Ford did none of the above and died unrepentant.