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Ford Motor Co. Says Threats of Continued Arab Boycott Will Not Sway It Doing Business in Israel

August 28, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Ford Motor Company’s rejection of boycott threats by the Arab League remains the auto manufacturer’s firm policy and Israeli distributors of the Ford cars continue in operation. The adherence to this policy of resisting the Arab pressures was restated to The Jewish News by spokesmen for Ford, in view of the repetition of reports that the boycott threats were to be resumed.

Speculation that the Arab League boycott, which was imposed on the Ford company in 1966 because the auto maker licensed one of its dealers to assemble knocked-down vehicles in Israel, again threatens the firm appeared in an article in the Detroit News by Patrick Fitzgerald, who wrote:

“An Arab boycott that has frozen Ford Motor Co. out of one of the world’s fastest growing auto markets has become an issue of concern in the Toyota-Ford joint venture negotiations. A Toyota spokesman said the company is concerned that a deal with Ford might complicate the Japanese firm’s relations with nations of the Arab League, especially Saudi Arabia, Toyota’s second largest export nation this year.”

The Near East report published an item last month which stated, “Saudi Arabia has warned Japan’s largest car manufacturer, the Toyota Motor Co., to expect retaliatory action from Arab nations if it forms a business tie with the Ford Motor Co., and undertakes a joint venture to produce motor vehicles.”


Philip Slomovitz, editor and publisher of The Jewish News, writing about this development in this week’s issue of his newspaper, said that in response to these assertions, K. D. Holloway, president of Ford Mid-East and Africa, Inc. defined the Ford policy in a statement to The Jewish News. The statement, in part, said:

“Ford Motor Co. has no wish to become involved on either side of the Arab-Israeli dispute. This is an issue properly the responsibility of governments, not private companies. Our interest is to serve the vehicle needs of all of the countries of the Middle East, without regard to politics, or conflicts between or among those countries. Presently, in Israel, we are selling commercial vehicles in kit form, via an Israeli-owned distributor/ assembler.

“Without changing existing methods of conducting business, Ford would like to find ways to participate fully in the expanding markets of this region. Present U.S. laws and regulations, however, prohibit meaningful contact on the boycott with Arab officials. Merely to reply to the Boycott Office’s standard questionnaire, for example, would subject Ford Motor Co. to criminal penalties. These include possible fines up to $50,000, prison terms up to five years and the suspension of all export licensing privileges for export from the U.S. to any country in the world.

“So what is the Ford position vis-a-vis the boycott? In a nutshell, we have been blacklisted for 15 years, are frozen out of a rapidly growing vehicle market and would like to find ways to serve both Israel and the various Arab nations with quality Ford cars, trucks and tractors. Existing laws in the U.S. prohibit even the first steps in this direction.”

Slomovitz reported that in a supplementary statement to The Jewish News, Robert Hefty, director of international and diversified products in the public relations department of Ford Motor Co., said, “Ford sales to the Israeli distributor/assembler continue as before, subject to normal business conditions. A very small volume of Ford vehicles — fewer than 2,000 units annually — is sold to Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. This is a combined figure for all three markets. All other Arab countries presently boycott Ford vehicles, with the result that these markets remain closed to us.”

The Ford Motor Co.’s car sales assumed extensive proportions in Egypt prior to the Camp David agreements, thus emphasizing that the Arab League boycott did not have unanimous support in Arab ranks.

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