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

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy