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Peter Golden 01

September 8, 2003

Abstract

Max Fisher's Biographer, Peter Golden, on Fisher's philanthropy in Israel and commitment to doing good.
Credit: Mort Crim Communications

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However, you have to understand, Max has always remained an American, and that, you can’t—a lot of times in Israel they’ll expect someone like Max to side with them, because that’s their position. It hasn’t worked out that way. And in fact—and this was a deeper conflict during the Nixon years and during the Ford years—that American interests and Israeli interests in the Middle East, in those years, were not identical. They seem to be a lot closer today. But in the Ford years particularly, during the Cold War, when we were always trying to keep Russia out, that the interests were not identical. And people knew that about Max, but they also knew that he was going to help. And don’t forget, beyond the political Max has helped Israel in many ways that he would have helped as a philanthropist, with other philanthropists and, of course, the Jewish Agency, which is a link between Israel and the rest of the world; the rest of the Jewish world. And I think he’s well regarded for this. I mean he’s really gone out of his way; he didn’t have to do it. There wasn’t anything in it. Again, there wasn’t anything in it for him, in the way most people would think. He wasn’t going to make any money; it cost him enormous amounts of money. Wasn’t going to give him more free time; it took up enormous amounts of his time. But he was in the game. He was in the mix. He was doing something. And don’t forget, we started talking about early twentieth century progressivism—this notion of once you make good, you must do good. And the two were connected.