Remembering the Jewish Heroes of Pearl Harbor

Dec. 13 2021

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

Russia’s Alliance with Hizballah Is Growing Stronger

Tehran’s ongoing cooperation with Moscow has recently garnered public attention because of the Kremlin’s use of Iranian arms against Ukraine, but it extends much further, including to the Islamic Republic’s Lebanese proxy, Hizballah. Aurora Ortega and Matthew Levitt explain:

Over the last few years, Russia has quietly extended its reach into Lebanon, seeking to cultivate cultural, economic, and military ties in Beirut as part of a strategy to expand Russian influence in the Middle East, while sidelining the U.S. and elevating Moscow’s role as a peacemaker.

Russia’s alliance with Hizballah was born out of the conflict in Syria, where Russian and Hizballah forces fought side-by-side in an alliance with the Assad regime. For years, this alliance appeared strictly limited to military activity in Syria, but in 2018, Hizballah and Russia began to engage in unprecedented joint sanctions-evasion activities. . . . In November 2018, the U.S. Department of the Treasury exposed a convoluted trade-based oil-smuggling sanctions-evasion scheme directed by Hizballah and [Iran].

The enhanced level of collaboration between Russia and Hizballah is not limited to sanctions evasion. In March 2021, Hizballah sent a delegation to Moscow, on its second-ever “diplomatic” visit to the country. Unlike its first visit a decade prior, which was enveloped in secrecy with no media exposure, this visit was well publicized. During their three days in Moscow, Hizballah representatives met with various Russian officials, including the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. . . . Just three months after this visit to Moscow, Hizballah received the Russian ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Rudakov in Beirut to discuss further collaboration on joint projects.

Read more at Royal United Services Institute

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Lebanon, Russia