Remembering the Jewish Heroes of Pearl Harbor

Last Tuesday marked 80 years since Japan’s unprovoked surprise attack on Hawaii, which brought the U.S. into World War II. Among the 2,403 American servicemen who lost their lives that day were several Jews. Tabby Refael tells the story of one of them:

Private Louis Schleifer, from Newark, New Jersey, was at [Oahu’s] Hickam airfield, where he was attached to the 4th Reconnaissance Squadron. Four days earlier, he had celebrated his 21st birthday. Schleifer was headed to breakfast when he saw Japanese aircraft dropping bombs over a field. He immediately took his helmet and 45-caliber revolver and ran to move some of the American planes into hangars. He fired at the Japanese planes overhead and was mortally wounded. Later that day, he was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.

During World War II, more than 550,000 American Jewish men and women served in the U.S. Armed Forces; 11,000 were killed and more than 40,000 were wounded. During the war, Jews comprised just over 3 percent of the American population and 4.23 percent of the armed forces. At Pearl Harbor, Jewish servicemen performed acts of great heroism, such as saving some of the crew aboard the USS Utah to dropping depth charges against Japanese submarines.

But perhaps the most poignant observation about American-Jewish servicemen came from Senator Charles McNary of Oregon, who spoke at a memorial service on June 30, 1942 for Schleifer. “Jews have been fighting oppression and tyranny for centuries. They received their basic training in Egypt and became seasoned soldiers on the battlegrounds of Europe,” said McNary.

“Wherever tyranny threatens, wherever the rights of man are in danger of being destroyed, there you will find the Jew, joining forces with others willing to fight and die for freedom.”

Read more at JNS

More about: American Jewish History, Jews in the military, World War II

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict