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

Feb. 17 2020

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.

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Read more at Los Angeles Times

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

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter