We didn’t get it together to put up a Veterans Day post yesterday, but I wanted to mention that there are plenty of Jews who are serving in the military all over the world. Many of us only associate Jewish soldiers with Israel, but in fact, America has a long history of Jewish servicemen and women, including Jewish men who fled Austria and Germany in the early days of the Nazi regime, only to return to Europe as members of the US armed forces, working as combat infantrymen, paratroopers, and interrogators in counter intelligence and military intelligence positions. There were many Jewish soldiers in Vietnam, and of course many casualties. And let’s not forget all the Jewish soldiers who are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can learn more about current Jewish soldiers, and help provide them with kosher meals, Jewish books, and phone cards at JewishSoldier.org. Another good resource is JewsinGreen.com. I also recommend the Israeli organization A Package From Home that provides gifts and care packages to Israeli soldiers with no family in Israel.
Unfortunately, life is not always wonderful for Jewish American soldiers. Just last week AP reported:
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) â€” The Army has kicked out a soldier for beating a Jewish trainee who complained about religious harassment in their basic training unit, a Fort Benning spokesman said Monday.
Citing federal privacy laws, the Army had previously refused to discuss how it punished the attacker of Pvt. Michael Handman, 20, of Atlanta, other than to say the case had been handled as an administrative matter rather than as a crime.
That changed after the southeast director of the Anti-Defamation League met Fort Benning officials Friday. Col. Charles Durr, chief of staff at Fort Benning, told the ADL’s Bill Nigut the assailant had been discharged.
Four days before the attack, Handman was interviewed by commanders of his basic training unit about complaints he’d made in letters to his parents that he had been harassed by two drill sergeants because he’s Jewish.
The Army later acknowledged one drill sergeant had ordered Handman to remove his yarmulke, which he wore with his uniform, as he ate in a dining hall. Another drill sergeant had called him “Juden” â€” the German word for Jews.
Purtiman said investigators concluded the assault on Handman was not motivated by bigotry, but he would not say what prompted it. He also would not release the name of Handman’s attacker, citing the federal Privacy Act.
Well, it’s a day late, but we at MJL salute all of the Jewish American servicemen and servicewomen. Thank you for all of your hard work.