A New Memorial to Australia’s Jewish War Heroes

Aug. 15 2018

The Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) has been widely considered the finest fighting force to take the field during World War I. In May 1918, command of Australian forces in Europe was given to General John Monash—a Jew. But Monash was not the only Australian Jew to distinguish himself on the battlefield. The Jewish Community Center in Canberra has just completed a memorial to the country’s Jewish war dead, as Katie Burgess writes:

A new national war memorial was unveiled [on Sunday] to remember the 341 Jewish servicemen who laid down their lives fighting for Australia, 100 years to the day since Monash was knighted on the battlefield. . . . Around 9,000 Australian Jewish men and women have served in Australia’s defense forces since the Boer War. Around 1,800 of those served in World War I.

Monash, an engineer and tactician of Prussian Jewish heritage, was the most famous of the Jewish servicemen who fought in the Great War. By the end of the war, Monash had been promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general and was knighted by King George V outside Villers-Bretonneux in the south of France. But despite this, Monash was denied the rank of field marshal in part because of his Jewish heritage. . . .

But . . . Monash [was] by no means the only exceptional Jewish military leader. There’s Lieutenant Leonard Maurice Keysor, who was awarded a Victoria Cross during the battle of Lone Pine in August 1915 [during the Gallipoli campaign]. For 50 hours he smothered bombs that landed in his trench or threw them back at Turkish soldiers, in some cases catching them mid-flight before lobbing them back at the Turks. Sergeant Issy Smith also won a Victoria Cross for carrying a wounded man 750 feet to safety under machine-gun and rifle fire during the second battle of Ypres [in 1915]. . . .

Then there are the heroes who did not make it back home. . . . Adolf [Hoffman] is one of the servicemen honored on the [memorial’s] cenotaph. The twenty-two-year-old navigator and bombardier died when his Lancaster bomber was shot down over Belgium on ANZAC Day [April 25] in 1944.

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Read more at Canberra Times

More about: Australia, History & Ideas, Jews in the military, Military history, World War I

Syria’s Downing of a Russian Plane Put Israel in the Crosshairs

Sept. 21 2018

On Monday, Israeli jets fired missiles at an Iranian munitions storehouse in the northwestern Syrian city of Latakia. Shortly thereafter, Syrian personnel shot down a Russian surveillance plane with surface-to-air missiles, in what seems to be a botched and highly incompetent response to the Israeli attack. Moscow first responded by blaming Jerusalem for the incident, but President Putin then offered more conciliatory statements. Yesterday, Russian diplomats again stated that Israel was at fault. Yoav Limor comments:

What was unusual [about the Israeli] strike was the location: Latakia [is] close to Russian forces, in an area where the IDF hasn’t been active for some time. The strike itself was routine; the IDF notified the Russian military about it in advance, the missiles were fired remotely, the Israeli F-16s returned to base unharmed, and as usual, Syrian antiaircraft missiles were fired indiscriminately in every direction, long after the strike itself was over. . . .

Theoretically, this is a matter between Russia and Syria. Russia supplied Syria with the SA-5 [missile] batteries that wound up shooting down its plane, and now it must demand explanations from Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. That won’t happen; Russia was quick to blame Israel for knocking over the first domino, and as usual, sent conflicting messages that make it hard to parse its future strategy. . . .

From now on, Russia will [almost certainly] demand a higher level of coordination with Israel and limits on the areas in which Israel can attack, and possibly a commitment to refrain from certain actions. Syria, Iran, and Hizballah will try to drag Russia into “handling” Israel and keeping it from continuing to carry out strikes in the region. Israel . . . will blame Iran, Hizballah, and Syria for the incident, and say they are responsible for the mess.

But Israel needs to take rapid action to minimize damage. It is in Israel’s strategic interest to keep up its offensive actions to the north, mainly in Syria. If that action is curtailed, Israel’s national security will be compromised. . . . No one in Israel, and certainly not in the IDF or the Israel Air Force, wants Russia—which until now hasn’t cared much about Israel’s actions—to turn hostile, and Israel needs to do everything to prevent that from happening. Even if that means limiting its actions for the time being. . . . Still, make no mistake: Russia is angry and has to explain its actions to its people. Israel will need to walk a thin line between protecting its own security interests and avoiding a very unwanted clash with Russia.

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More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Russia, Syrian civil war