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The great ‘Divider in Chief’ hath spoken. This time Trump’s target was American Jews. But his words fell especially heavily and harshly on Jewish military and civilian contractors who are associated with the Defense Department. His threats virtually command these Jews to fall into lockstep behind him and his MAGA minions. Most have been left feeling outraged, unfairly singled out, and deeply offended.

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While Trump unabashedly brags that he’s done more for Israel than any other U.S. President, he clearly hasn’t done much of anything for U.S. military members of all faiths and no faith except to tell them, post-Charlottesville, that “there were very fine people on both sides.” He said this about neo-Nazis and White Supremacists in body armor, some heavily armed, who brazenly marched chanting, “Jews will not replace us.” Now he has presented those Jews who serve this country in military and civilian garb with being labeled, “other,” and being charged with potential disloyalty.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) understands that Jews are a freedom-loving people and fiercely advocates for them and many others when slurs and disparaging remarks threaten to injure and exclude them. Charges of “Dual Loyalty” have been around for decades, if not centuries, in the subsurface of the American polity. Service academy Jewish cadets, midshipmen, and other personnel have all too frequently suffered this bigoted canard only to go on and prove themselves as competent, honorable, self-sacrificing United States Air Force, Space Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps officers and members.

It is to this challenge that the MRFF is rising, declaring that such hurtful verbiage is totally illicit. We strongly suggest that Trump and those like him take walks through national veterans cemeteries and see that among the many crosses there are Stars of David. Then maybe he and they will realize that American Jews were here before Donald J. Trump and his MAGA followers came onto the scene. They’ll still be here, serving and sacrificing for this country long after he’s gone … and the MRFF will have their backs.

Rabbi Joel R. Schwartzman

Statement by MRFF Founder and President Mikey Weinstein

My third evening of “Beast” or Basic Cadet Training at the Air Force Academy in early July of 1973 began at the dinner table in the cavernous Mitchell Hall dining facility, where the entire 4,000-strong Cadet Wing is able to eat at once.

The “Table Commandant” was a “Firstie,” or senior, who had made it well known that he was VERY proud of his Irish heritage,

As the meal began with me and my classmates sitting firmly at attention, the Firstie demanded to know from me how I would handle the orders of any prospective Air Force superior who might assign me the hypothetical future combat mission of leading a 4-ship formation of F-4 Phantom fighters to “bomb and strafe the city of Tel Aviv, Israel.”

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I was only 18 years old, but I fully understood the abject antisemitism of Jewish “dual loyalty” as per the Table Commandant’s ugly query to me.

I responded by requesting permission to ask HIM a question which was the required protocol. The Table Commandant, frowning, grudgingly nodded his head.

I asked him the following question; “Sir, what would YOU do under the same circumstances if YOU were ordered to bomb and strafe the city of Dublin, Ireland.”

I recall the Firstie becoming instantly explosive and enraged, and I was immediately, abruptly, and physically removed by a number of upperclassmen from the table, taken outside, and run up and down the large grassy hill in the middle of the Academy’s terrazzo (campus area) until I repeatedly vomited.

Fifteen months later, in October of 1974, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Air Force General George S. Brown, made headlines by stating during a speech at the Duke University Law School that Jews exert too much influence in Congress because Jews “…own, you know, the banks in this country, the newspapers." General Brown had prefaced that remark by saying, “If there is another oil embargo and people in this country are not only inconvenienced and uncomfortable but suffer (they will) get tough minded enough to set down the Jewish influence in this country and break the lobby.”

President Gerald Ford lightly rebuked General Brown but refused to take any other tangible action of meaningful punishment.

All of this was nearly a half-century ago, but antisemitism in the American armed forces ranks has never been more pernicious, pervasive, and systemic than right now.

Crossposted from MRFF.