Restoring the Graves of American Jews Who Died Fighting in World War II and Were Buried as Christian

The U.S. military cemetery in Manila, with 17,058 graves, is the largest burial ground for Americans who lost their lives in World War II. In a ceremony held on February 12, five of the graveyard’s thousands of crosses were replaced with Stars of David, thanks to an effort spearheaded by Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter, whose father served as a military chaplain during the war. Shashank Bengali describes the project:

Through meticulous genealogical research, Schacter and his colleagues have succeeded in changing the grave markers of eleven Jewish soldiers buried under crosses, and they believe there are hundreds more.

About 550,000 Jewish Americans fought in World War II, making up 3.4 percent of the 16 million Americans who served—roughly equal to the Jewish share of the U.S. population at the time. [But] gravestone errors were common. Middle initials, spellings, even dates of death were sometimes recorded incorrectly by military personnel tasked with gathering the bodies of more than 400,000 dead Americans.

There were added complications for Jewish burials. Some Jews who fought in Europe discarded the dog tags that included their religious affiliation—or scratched out the “H,” code for Hebrew—in case they were captured by Nazis. When a Jewish soldier perished, the Army’s efforts to communicate with relatives, many of them recent immigrants, were sometimes stymied by language barriers.

Read more at Los Angeles Times

More about: American Jewish History, Jewish cemeteries, 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