Antisemitic discrimination in the ranks of the services now and then

Published On: May 6, 2024|Categories: MRFF's Inbox|10 Comments|

From: (Former military member and current MRFF client’s E-mail address withheld)
Subject: Antisemitic discrimination in the ranks of the services now and then
Date: May 5, 2024 at 7:40:03 PM MDT
To: Mikey Weinstein <[email protected]>

As a military member there are challenges we must face as Jews which are, in these times, unimaginable; despite the Constitution,Presidential Directives, U.S. Laws, and Military Regulations affirming our religious freedoms. 

When I was a young enlisted service member I did not know Mikey Weinstein and did not know I could turn to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation for support when being harassed. You now have that option and I thank him for creating an opportunity for us to have resolution with illegal religious persecution and discrimination. 

The laws simply don’t exist for us because antisemitic leaders won’t enforce them. 

I was on a U.S. Air Force security forces team before commissioning which often was tasked with Presidential and Foreign Head of State, even Pope security. The operations NCO frequently hounded me and Muslim service members about our religions. It got so bad that at group events they would cook pork products and he would make a point to drop pork sausages on my plate while I was eating. They even made death threats to me that if we ever got into a fire fight, I would take a friendly fired round in the back of my skull. They weren’t joking. The commander even stated if I would convert, I could enjoy eating the pork they so loved.

I had an O-6 (full Colonel) Christian Chaplain leaving notes taped on my barracks room door stating I was part of a dying breed and I needed to come see him for salvation. When I filed an I.G. complaint against him, they turned the table on me and allowed me to stay in the military if I would apologize to him for trying to ruin his career just before his retirement. 

I had no top cover back in the day and it was either apologize or separate from the service. But all of you in the armed forces now are most fortunate to actually have powerful top-cover with the advent of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s forceful and successful advocacy.

I was nominated for both the Airman’s Medal in 199X for saving a runaway (jet fighter designation withheld) fighter and the crew chief inside and the Bronze Star in 19XX for stopping a damaged bomb from exploding on a packed fight line. My middle initial on my citation was listed as an (initial withheld) instead of an (initial withheld) and it was caught at the Pentagon. Major (name withheld) had just replaced LTC (name withheld) and made it very clear he was a born again Christian and openly stated if I wanted my awards amended so they could be approved or I wanted to get commissioned in the USAF, I must start attending his personal Christian Prayer Breakfasts he held in his conference room with senior leaders as the Commander of the (USAF unit designation withheld) Squadron headquarters in 199X and 199X. I was an Orthodox Jew and refused. 

Not only did he have both of my awards downgraded but he had performed an administrative reduction in grade from (rank title withheld) Sergeant to (lower rank title withheld) Sergeant and gave my stripe to a Christian soldier I worked with who was having self-induced hard times. Though I held both the Bronze Star and Airman’s Medals I had well earned in combat and at the risk of my own life in my hands with their respective official military citations citing my actions, both were revoked and downgraded. 

The question becomes what is more important; one’s integrity or advancing in the ranks after being wrongfully converted to Christianity under the never punished duress and oppression of my Christian military commanders?

(Former military member and current MRFF client’s name and all other ID withheld)

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  1. Gunther May 6, 2024 at 2:12 pm

    You had my full empathy regarding your awards. I had a medal denied to me for excelling in military history and they gave it to a guy who didn’t attend the military history classes at all as required. Their excuse was that because I had no leadership skills, I wasn’t entitled to the medal.

    If I had no leadership skills, it is because the military staff and the upper cadets didn’t spend any time and effort in helping me developing and cultivating those skills considering the fact that those people didn’t have any leadership skills in themselves; however, I shouldn’t have been denied the medal.

  2. Grey One Talks Sass May 7, 2024 at 7:27 am

    Gunther, a couple of thoughts.

    I am sympathetic to your losing an honor to someone who didn’t do the work. I understand that situation as it’s happened to me more than once.
    However, I fail to understand how losing a medal for a class is equal to the letter writers situation. Losing honors and medals already earned while risking their life is a signal to the rest of ones comrades, that they must have done something wrong to lose their commendations. Added bonus is the losing of rank and associated pay, something reserved for extreme rule breakers, not someone who refuses to worship as command demands.

    Added note: I’m not sure blaming everyone except yourself for your lack of leadership skills is a valid complaint. As life has been explained to me, we are all given teachers with some being amazing examples of what to do while the rest are glaring examples of what not to do. The fact you did not take advantage the lessons they taught is not their responsibility but yours.

  3. Karen the rock whisperer May 7, 2024 at 11:00 am

    I was raised Catholic and then attended an Evangelical church for a few years before deepening depression caused me to struggle with the sermons, and my husband insisted we no longer attend. After good psychotropic meds, I did some serious rethinking of my religion, and decided I honestly didn’t believe anymore. I am a “Done”. My spiritual explorations since then are not germane here.

    The thing is (and maybe this relates to growing up in a fairly liberal part of the US) I NEVER heard a Christian take a potshot at Jews (other than my own mother, but she labeled anyone who wasn’t White, Catholic, and properly upright by her standards as being Other). My Catholic school nuns taught me to accept everyone, and I am eternally grateful. But all those people in my churches that I hung out with were not antisemitic. Even the Evangelicals were well, we’re working on who Jesus wants us to be, we aren’t going to bother anyone else about their faith. There are Jewish people in our workplaces, sometimes they’re our friends, and we deal with them as the individuals they are.

    And yet, the stories I read on this site ring true to me, because I’ve read other things on the ‘net that support them. It saddens me. In my professional life as an engineer, two of my most helpful mentors were Jewish. If those hateful Christian Nationalists knew my mentors, they’d hate them, too, on misguided principle. And yet, I can’t imagine anyone who knows those people personally, hating them.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that for all those haters, there are some of us that don’t hate. Small comfort, perhaps, but I have joined the phalanx against that hate with my donations, at least. Keep fighting, MRFF. Organizations like this one are absolutely essential right now.

  4. Gunther May 9, 2024 at 4:17 pm

    Gary One Talks Sasa

    Depriving of one’s medal that one has truly earned is theft whether on the battlefield or at an academy. There is no grey area

    It was a valid complaint about them using the lack of leadership skills against me considering the fact that the other person didn’t show up in class.

    Again, the staff and the older cadets did not spend any time or effort to develop leadership skills in me. That is their job, duty, and responsibility to do that whether a person has the natural leadership skills in him/her or not. That is on them not me.

  5. Gunther May 9, 2024 at 4:19 pm

    Sorry for the mispelling of the word Sass

  6. Gunther May 9, 2024 at 4:49 pm

    Gary One Talks Sass

    When you are in the public and/or private sector, you are supposed to get an evaluation review in a certain time period whether it is a few months or on a annual basis.

    At the place where I was at, the staff and the old cadets never once called me in to discuss my performance including developing leadership skills. It wasn’t until later, that I found out that they submit secret confidential evaluation reports on the new cadets which means you don’t have no way to view the reports and make objections to the report. let alone work with the staff and the older cadets to improve one’s self. Again, this is the failure of the staff and and the older cadets which shows their leadership skills or rather the lack of their leadership skills.

  7. Grey One Talks Sass May 10, 2024 at 1:06 am

    Gunther, should have led with the procedural issues.

    Leading with you not getting accolades for work on a post where the letter writers entire career was trashed (meaning learned rank and medals earned by risking their life removed because they were not the same faith as those in command) seems to me to be a level higher than you not getting a required performance review, just saying.

    That said I’d love for bosses to be fair and impartial but they aren’t in neither the public nor private sector.

    The issue at hand is humans in positions of authority identifying with a specific expression of faith deciding one’s accomplishments mean nothing unless they adopt the same faith as those in charge.

    I get it Gunther, you were wronged. Welcome to Group. My name is Grey One and I too have been wronged.

    Unless those in charge of the reviews you did not receive demanded of you changes in faith (not mentioned in any of your comments) then as I’ve been told, that’s life. It would be nice to think those in command have some higher calling to take the high road but my experience has been those closest to the powers that be who fail hardest are promoted elsewhere the fastest.

    Could explain why We The People are in the situation We are in here/now.

  8. Grey One Talks Sass May 10, 2024 at 6:52 am

    A. No worries on Sasa for Sass. Close enough to salsa for me to say hey! Calling me my name with foods? I’m OK.

    B. On my comment where I said “meaning learned rank and…” it’s earned, not learned.

    C. It’s not my intention to dismiss the harms you experienced Gunther. But in a world where everyone is pushing and shoving others in a perceived race to what? Make better widgets and fill out reports so the higher ups can afford one more car or take a vacation that only they can afford. We (and many more like us) are casualties of the class war. I’m just saying, it’s not always black and white but usually myriad shades of grey.

    The harm which happened to us in the past can never be answered for because justice delayed is justice denied. But what we experienced is not the same as the systemic religious discrimination described by the letter writer. Christian nationalists have a lot to answer for in regards to those tormented for not following the correct flavor of Christianity in spite of the words guiding our secular Constitutional Republic.

    Never forget it’s the Christian nationalists who plan on destroying our Democracy. They are on the ballot in 2024. We The People get distracted at our own peril.

    MAGA Out the door in ‘24

  9. Gunther May 12, 2024 at 10:58 am

    Grey One Talks Sass

    A) How can one deal with procedural issues when you don’t know about them and they didn’t bother to tell you about them? You also know that bosses only follow procedures when it suits them and don’t like it when you tell them to follow procedures. If they had followed their own procedures and that of society, the USA wouldn’t be in the mess that it is in now politically, socially, economically, and even in the area of religion.

    B) They don’t want to tell you these things because if enough people follow the procedures, then they would be complaining about how they can’t do other areas of their jobs because of dealing with the people under their command. Well, they should have thought about that in the first place, before they had accepted the position, and forgot about or didn’t care about the responsibility that comes with the job.

    C) Being denied accolades whether on the battlefield or off the battlefield is still terrible. It destroys morale, reduces one’s motivation and performance, and causes people not to give their best. Just saying.

    D) We seem to make a big deal out of things being black and white at the same time; yet, people try to defend their bad decisions based on “gray” areas.and then have the gall to complain about being held accountable for those decisions. Or complain about the lack of morality in society when they contribute to it on a personal and professional level on a daily basis..

    E) It wasn’t faith that they were asking me to change in order for me to get the award. You can be denied awards due to other things like office politics, race, etc., not just based on faith alone. Just saying.

    Don’t forget, It is also American CEOs who plan on destroying our democracy as well and they have been doing class warfare since the day this country got its independence. The only time, the American worker ever got to enjoy the fruits of his/her labor is when FDR came into power and put a rein on corporate power and the American business leaders of America have hated him for it even today. You have some of them on the ballot in 2024 as well where they plan on returning America to a plutocratic, corporate system and the Heritage Foundation has a 2025 plan help American businesses take back America:

  10. Grey One Talks Sass May 13, 2024 at 7:06 am

    Gunther, just stop. Please just stop.

    Posting a link to the 2025 project, actually not one but two links… are you promoting or making sure those of us that read the MRFF are aware? You do know Mikey has a separate post about this topic? The threat posed by the 2025 project is real and many of us are taking said threat seriously.

    I confess the intent of your nicely bulleted comment is confusing, at least to me. The more you try to justify your experience with what the letter writer and so many others have experienced is just, well, icky. So please, just stop. You aren’t doing yourself or your cause (but I repeat myself) any good.

    The world is not only black or white, never has been. Many humans justify their bad behavior for a myriad of reasons but in truth the only one which counts is they wanted to do what they did so they did it (Mental Health 110, Zen -advanced, Buddhism – all stages).

    Gunther, I was in a cult for over 10 years – hubby is the one who got me out (well, I wanted out too so there is that). I did horrible things that in my healthy mind here/now I’d never do again. But while in the control of the cult I willingly did those horrible things in order to fit in, to belong, and to prove myself to the leader and their acolytes. I supposed I could claim duress and have been excused by many but here’s the thing – deep in my heart part of me knew what I was doing was incorrect. That little voice eating at me night and day is why I was able to escape, also why I had so many health issues.

    Every day I’m faced with judgement calls – do this or do that, which path to take. If I center myself in a ‘correct’ space I know that I walk in the Beauty Way. I chose this path, no one else. I choose to do the correct thing because it’s the correct thing to do. I take responsibility for all my actions even if those who are in control influenced my path in negative ways. That’s on them.

    I will never get justice for the wrongs done, never, and I accept that. Is it correct? Nope not even but it happened and one can’t redo the past (not that some don’t spend an inordinate amount of time trying). All that said, you’ve chosen your path. Please do not make the mistake of blaming others from your past for the steps you choose to take here/now. Who is walking, you or them?

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