For More Than a Century, Cinema Has Portrayed Jewish Soldiers as Cowardly, or Worse

Created during World War II, Britain’s Special Air Service (SAS) is the rough equivalent of the American Delta Force or Navy Seals. A recent BBC miniseries, SAS: Rogue Heroes, offers a fictionalized version of its creation and operations in Africa in 1941. Benjamin Vos notes that the show follows a long line of war movies that depict Jews as unmartial and unmanly:

SAS Rogue Heroes features one Jewish character, the fictional French soldier Halévy. Unlike the rangy, fit SAS men, he is small and portly, can’t mount a truck without help, is bullied, and almost flunks a test of bravery. While his comrades seem inherently warlike, Halévy fights specifically to avenge his deported family. His graduation to bravery necessitates his own death, as he immolates the traitor Brückner, himself, and others in an explosion.

Halévy first appears when, among a group of soldiers standing to attention, he sneezes and is laughed at. Halévy’s humiliation, unsoldierly reticence, moral preoccupation, and self-sacrifice continue a grisly dramatic tradition of fictional Jewish soldiers being bumbling, cowardly, or otherwise unfit to fight. The lucky ones die quickly.

This comic-relief role for Jewish soldiers has been a constant for well over a century. In Cohen Saves the Flag (1912), two Jews at Gettysburg put romantic rivalry above the interests of the Union Army. The running joke about lascivious and cowardly Private Lipinsky in What Price Glory? (1926) is the size of his nose.

Vos traces these tropes in films over the decades, and also notes some even more insidious stereotypes—which persist into the 21st century—of Jews as treacherous or lecherous. In other movies, their deaths provide salvation for their Gentile comrades:

Stalag 17 (1953) is a tense tale of betrayal among angry, violent POWs, within which Harry Shapiro is unreliable, vulgar, and indebted—and lusts after female Russian prisoners. . . . Corporal Gabby Gordon in Objective, Burma! (1945) is a standard-issue daft Jewish soldier. In the film, a Lt. Jacobs is tortured by the Japanese but passes on a vital message before dying. Jews [tend to] die to impart benefit to other characters or even moral instruction to viewers. In The Deep Six (1958), Frenchy Shapiro dies after rescuing his Quaker friend from Japanese soldiers. More significantly, Anzio (1968) features licentious Corporal Rabinoff who dies while drawing German fire from his non-Jewish comrades. Rabinoff’s death inspires a moral epiphany in a cynical war journalist.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Anti-Semitism, Film, Jews in the military

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security