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This Guy Advocates for Jews?

October 17, 2008

by Ed Brayton

Last week I wrote about a Jewish soldier at Ft. Benning who was beaten up, told he couldn't wear his yarmulke while eating and called names like "kike" and "fucking Jew" by his fellow soldiers. Jason Leopold at the Public Record reports on comments by the Jewish lay leader at the base that have some calling for him to step down from that position.

In an interview, retired Navy Captain Neil Block, the Jewish Lay Leader at Fort Benning, seemed to place blame for the brutal attack and the prior incidents of anti-Semitism on Pvt. Handman for naively believing that wearing a yarmulke would not invite ridicule by his fellow soldiers.
"When he told me that he was going to wear a keepah (the Hebrew word for yarmulke) I said God bless you, but be prepared, there's a consequence to it and you're going to be challenged," said Block, who has been the advocate for Jewish soldiers at Fort Benning for the past eight years. The military uses volunteer Jewish lay leaders due to the shortage of rabbis at the nearly 1,000 Department of Defense military installations around the world.

"He has a drill sergeant who has never seen a keepah in his life and treated him less than mommy and daddy would and made some derogatory comments about his faith," Block said."This whole thing is an issue of overreaction. Should his drill sergeants have known better? Yeah. But they didn't. I was at a party where people talking about Jewing somebody down. It goes on. Does it make it right? No. But it's basic training. You can't control 100 or so soldiers. I mean everybody uses the "n" word now and then" to refer to African Americans."

In addition, Block suggested that Pvt. Handman used his "minority status" as a Jew to play the "Jew card," in other words, a "victim."

"Any young Jew who uses his minority status to play the system is villainous," Block said. "There's that element that I am being discriminated against."

Incredible. He admits that the drill sergeant made derogatory comments about Jews to this soldier, but then calls that soldier - who was beaten severely by several soldiers in his platoon and sent to the hospital, by the way - "villainous" for playing the "Jew card" and claiming to be discriminated against. Who, exactly, did he blow to get that job?

Click here to view readers' comments on this article

Mikey Weinstein Honored

Jews For Racial & Economic Justice
12th Annual Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer
Risk-Taker Awards

Thursday, November 20th, 6-9pm

Congregation B'nai Jeshurun
257 West 88th Street
New York City

This year JFREJ will be honoring Ann Cook, Deborah Meier, Mikey Weinstein & Families for Freedom

Past Risk-Taker honorees have included Allen Ginsberg, Michael Ratner, Amy Goodman, Naomi Klein, Rev. James Forbes, Art Speigelman, Grace Paley, Debbie Almontaser, the Brennan Center for Justice, and Domestic Workers United, to name a few.

Nov 20th Event Photo


MRFF's Inbox

Letters to Private Handman

October 23, 2008

PVT Handman,

I read about your attack and treatment at basic. I'm sorry to say that this is not new and I have also experienced ill treatment for being a Jew in the Army. I have never been beaten but I have learned to seek strength in numbers. The regulations are on our side such as AR 670-1 chapter one which permits our wear of the kippah in uniform. If you have any further problems please feel free to contact me and I may be able to point you in the right direction.

I hope you did not have any problem in observing Yom Kippur and I wish you the best in your military service. Shana Tovah.

[name withheld]

October 23, 2008

Hello pvt Handman,

Hopefully I'm emailing the correct person, are you the pvt Handman from Atlanta GA ? That had the unfortunate problem at Ft.Benning Ga,? The purpose of this email is to offer Encouragement, youngman I can truly say that I do understand what you're going thur because I myself am of another faith so I've heard all of some most hateful things in the world. But youngman what I Need you to do is to brush yourself off, drink water and drive on. The hate of other people us that as a driving motivating factor, Why because you've chosen to become a member of one the greatest Fighting forces in the world in the greatest country on earth and nothing or anyone can take that away from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read this email

[name withheld]

October 23, 2008

Pvt Handman,

I am sorry to hear what happened to you. One of my roommates in basic training was anti-semitic and he was taken out of my cycle after my roommates and I wrote a statement. Its hard to be Jewish in the Army when benedictions mention jesus, there's a general lack of understanding in the importance of our high holidays, very few Rabbis, etc. The actions of your drill instructors was/is distgusting and the Deputy Chief of Staff's reasoning/explanation for your drill sergeants actions was disgraceful. I will probably get out in [withheld] and the Army has its ups and downs, but I hope the rest of your service goes well.

[name withheld]

October 23, 2008

Pvt Handman,

I read of the difficulties you have had. I had similar problems in the Army
40 years ago. I endured and went on to have a successful 35 year career in
the Army Reserve. I currently serve as [withheld] and want to send you my coin in recognition of your decision to serve in the Army and your persistence. Please send me a good mailing address.

[name withheld]

Letters to MRFF

October 23, 2008

Dear MRFF,

I watched your video about the USAFA, and I am about to buy "With God on Our Side." I'm a former [withheld], and while I didn't see much in the way of religious discrimination in the[withheld], I did see a huge bias towards Christianity, especially Evangelical style outside of it. I watched the video by Christian Embassy with Pete Geren and other high ranking officials at the Pentagon, and it makes me sick. Day 1 you learn not to mix politics and religion with the job...Anyways, thank you for what you do, I appreciate it.

[name withheld]

October 21, 2008

Hello Mikey,

I am a Jewish former Army combat medic who served in the [withheld] in South Korea. I would like to thank you for all the work that you do fighting the forces that would turn this country into a theocracy. We need more people like you to make sure the Constitution remains the bedrock of our laws here in America, and not any religious creed. We do not need a Christian version of Sha'ariah and Ayatollah Khomeinis controlling our military. I am shocked to read what happened to the Jewish private recently at Ft. Benning- that is where I [withheld] (at that time the person in charge of Jewish services was a Chabad rabbi). I am neither Democrat or Republican, I am a citizen wishing to preserve the Constitution, with the Four Freedoms that FDR entailed and also with the vision of Martin Luther King Jr. had for our nation.

As a member of a local VFW Post I am worried that the sacrifices of my fellow Americans have not been in vain.

When I was in medic training in [withheld] in the spring and summer of 2003 we were required to attend "Spiritual Fitness". This was basically a lecture by a Christian chaplain basically telling us to be sensitive to soldiers' spiritual needs and how humanism was in itself a religion, and also how we were fighting a righteous war. Some of the things he said almost struck me like I was listening to a politruk (Communist political commisar) in the Red Army.

I fear that our president, who is very much connected to dominionists - http://dogemperor.dailykos.com has more on this extensive infiltration of the Republican party and the military by dominionists), might try to seek a third term in office by imposing martial law, and there is already a structure in place for this to happen. I am afraid of a fascistic religious coup happening in the government. David Antoon was interviewed by Naomi Wolf in this regard, and was worried.

I am afraid, with the recent events with the economy, and also with some remarks that Representative Brad Sherman said on C-Span about martial law. Brad Sherman was later interviewed by a very controversial talk show host (whom I don't agree with on everything) and he said his fellow congressmen were not kidding when they were threatened by martial law. The talk show host is also angered at this prospect of martial law.

The technology to microchip Americans is now spreading into the Pentagon. Just like the tattoos in Auschwitz, this might mark a horrifying new era.

Apparently, there is a network of prison camps around the nation ready to house private citizens in case of Martial Law.

http://www.prisonplanet.com and http://www.infowars.com have also more about the "nazification" of our nation- however among the good information on there is when the creator of the site tries to connect the dots and also other misleading information- and I am skeptical about this.

There is also a thing I read about called the "Red and Blue Plan" that talks about how vans are marked Red and Blue just like in the concentration camps. A certain Professor Smith talked to a Mr. Sea, who claims to be a senior government bureaucrat who claims that in martial law, people will be herded into such vans. (Google it and you will find information about it- I do not know how reliable it is). I lost the specific URL to it, but it seems interesting and pertinant to this.

I hope you will take a look at this and if you deem this important ,please forward these links to people who might and will be able to prevent this possibility from happening.

Thank you,
A Concerned Citizen

October 21, 2008


I understand that a spokesperson from your organization is responsible for the recent story posted at several media sites regarding the "gassing of children at a Dayton mosque." The author states that she does so in an official capacity for MRFF. Contrary to other news sources, the MRFF version asserts that the incident is the result of a hate crime perpetrated by persons having been influenced by the recent mailing of the DVD "Obsession." While the mailing is an obviously thinly veiled tactic designed to push people toward a republican vote, disseminating a story like that, unsubstantiated, with stark allusions to the tragic and horrifying events that took place at Auschwitz-Birkenau are both repulsive and insulting to the people of Ohio.

As it stands, there is no evidence of a hate crime, the gassing has turned out to be a probable pepper spray incident, and the likliest suspect appears to be another child. Whatever the outcome, your story is highly incendiary, based on second hand personal information, and contains absolutely no resolve in promoting community among diverse groups of people. Instead, it promotes fear and hatred. I find the tactics employed similar to those of the people responsible for that mailing.

As a democrat and an atheist, I applaud your efforts as an organization, but am disappointed with your actions regarding the Dayton pepper spray incident and find that it reflects poorly on you.

Thank you for your time,

[name withheld]

Response from Chris Rodda
MRFF Senior Research Director

Dear [name withheld],

I thought I made it quite clear in my article about the Dayton mosque incident that I was not writing that story as a representative of MRFF. You say in your email that "The author states that she does so in an official capacity for MRFF." I did nothing of the kind. In fact, I very deliberately separated what I was saying as an individual from what I was saying as a representative of MRFF, even prefacing my comments about the distribution of the DVD with a disclaimer to that effect.

The only statement I made as a representative of MRFF was the following paragraph regarding the endorsement on the DVD from the U.S. Naval War College:

"The presidential campaign edition of the Obsession DVD, currently being distributed by the Clarion Fund, carries the endorsement of the chair of the counter-terrorism department of the U.S. Naval War College, using the name and authority of an official U.S. military institution not only to validate an attack the religion of Islam, but to influence a political campaign. For these reasons, this endorsement has been included in MRFF's second lawsuit against the Department of Defense, which was filed on September 25 in the Federal District Court in Kansas."

Most of what I reported about the mosque incident actually came from two stories in the Dayton Daily News, and the rest from friends of Iraqi refugees who were there when the incident occurred. The Dayton Daily News later scrubbed its first two stories from its website, and attempted to make it appear that the whole thing was blown out of proportion by bloggers, singling me out by name. All reports stated that the chemical was sprayed from outside by two adults. The story that later came out, after the detective changed his story from the pepper spray can being found near the mosque to being found inside the mosque, and the questioning of a ten year old boy, does not add up with the eyewitness accounts reported in the Dayton Daily News, nor those that I was able to get from others who were there through their friends, and, as far as I know, the investigation is not yet over. But, the Dayton Daily News, by scrubbing its first two articles on the subject, succeeded in making it appear that myself and the other bloggers had exaggerated the story, and that's what anyone reading about it now is going to think.

Chris Rodda
Senior Research Director
Military Religious Freedom Foundation

Opinion letter from the Colorado Springs Gazette

October 20, 2008

Baker should know [our] nation is built on Christian principles. Where did The Gazette dig up Richard Baker? His view of Christianity as a "Dark Side force" seeking to totally dominate the nation is the result of grave misinformaion or of flying over the cuckoo's nest once too often ("Dominionist Christians would force their religion," Other Voices, Oct. 17). Isn't the Military Religious Freedom Foundation the same organization Mikey Weinstein started to try to silence Christians at the Air Force Academy?

Baker should read a little history. What he deems "pervasive, pernicious and dogmatic invasions of America's institutions and lifestyle" are really the very matrix in which this nation was born. Christianity is not the "self-described antithesis of democracy," but it is the source of the very ideas of freedoms we hold dear. It is the seed and the ground in which democracy sprouted, grew and flourished. It is mainly recent history in which efforts have been made to silence Christian voices from expressing political viewpoints and from being a public presence.

The few words of his column that mentioned District 49's actions is part of long debate and legal activity. It is a standard expression of one side of that debate. The rest of his tirade is, at the very least, an expression of ignorance, possibly malevolence and seeming paranoia.

[name withheld] Colorado Springs

Response from Richard Baker

It appears [name withheld] is so deeply immersed in his religious fantasies that
he has not, himself, taken time to read US History.

Try as you might, [name withheld], you cannot make America, which is Constitutional, Representative Republic, a Christian Nation. There is no voting in Christianity, just a King and total, abject supplication.

Firstly, a Christian Nation would have to be so identified. Our constitution
says nothing about Jesus Christ either as a God or figurehead. Every other
country that pronounces itself to be a religious republic or founded on
religious principals so states, declares themselves, in writing, to be an Islamic
or Jewish or other religion's nation and prominently names their god. Their
founding documents are quite clear as to that matter.

Therefore one can only conclude, given the absence of such establishment by
the founders, that America is a secular nation in which all religions may
flourish but none dominate.

Further proof of this conclusion is in the First Amendment which prohibits
the United States Congress, and subsequently all branches of Federal, State and
Local government from establishing religion. This confirms that no single
religion can be sponsored by or become the state religion of America.

Christianity's majority gives it not one whit more power or privilege than
any other. The "free practice" clause does not mean the "Free Rein" clause.
Freedom of religion cannot abrogate any other guarantee the Constitution makes to its citizens.

Some conditioned members of Christian enclaves may well believe that America
is a Christian nation because of the narrow and dogmatic beliefs often
allowed to be practiced, uninhibited, by Dominion Evangelical Christians. But
these are clearly misfeasant and illegal and efforts are in play right now to
bring these unAmerican activities to a halt.

It is the height of religious vanity and supremacy to elevate Christianity
above others, not to mention illicit.

It is time for you, [name withheld], to join your fellow Americans and all their
varied religious beliefs and non-beliefs as an equal partner in America's
religious make-up. Otherwise you risk being identified as a Dominionist who
would take America by force and foist on it an unconstitutional theocratic
government comprised of the "dark side of Christianity" to which I alluded in my essay and which we now see being coercively applied in our Armed Forces, Service Academies and more recently, our corporate community. Christian Supremacy is as ugly as any other form of supremacy and contaminates and denigrates the beauty and strength of our great Democracy.

I do not see the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor holding aloft a cross
instead of the torch of pluralistic freedom. I do not see a crucifix carved
into the stone of Mount Rushmore next to our great presidents' visages. I do
not see the Ten Commandments sewn onto our proud flag.

America is for citizens of all stripes, beliefs and non-beliefs. To suggest
otherwise calls for you to join others of that narrow and vindictive bent in
historical ignominy.

Richard Baker
Colorado Springs Chapter
Military Religious Freedom Foundation

October 18, 2008

Response E-mail to Col. Krisinger's review of "With God On Our Side" published in Maxwell AFB Blog Air and Space Power Journal 2008.

Dear Editor,

The review of Michael Weinstein's book "With God on Our Side," by Col. Chris J. Krisinger, USAF,(Ret), seems to have all the talking points our Dominion Christian friends employ when seeking to cloud the issue of overt and coercive Christian proselytizing in our armed forces and service academies.

As a former Air Force officer and Pilot, I was compelled to see if the stories emanating from the USAFA and those of West Point and Annapolis were founded on truth.

After close examination of my own and reading every word available on the subject,(not including Mr. Weinstein's book), I concluded that there was indeed a systematic, overt and coercive program of intrusive and exclusive evangelizing undertaken by such organizations as Campus Crusade for Christ Military Mission, Christian Officer's Fellowship, Christian Military Fellowship, Focus on the Family, The Navigators, New Life Church and others.

For years now, from the command structure to the faculty and sports division, a pall of distorted Christian doctrine has permeated the cadet body and an aggressive evangelizing conducted by operatives from these extreme Christian organizations being provided with unlimited access to cadets 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even issuing them flight clothes to blend in more easily. In addition a series of e-mails from the Commandant and Superintendent, urged Cadets to attend Christian oriented movies, attend Christian Church services and make themselves available to assist in the proselytizing of fellow cadets. Protestant Chaplains urged Cadets to hound other cadets who, if they are considered "unchurched" are fair game. Ads were run in Newspapers signed by the Commandant and Superintendent stating "Jesus was the Only Way" or words to that effect. This often resulted in confrontation and occasional violence. A special flight was formed at the AFA in which cadets who did not subscribe to the rather belligerent evangelizing were placed. This was called the "Heathen Flight." Many of the Jewish Cadets were called "Christ Killers."

Clearly, this activity goes against constitutional provisions of the first amendment and in effect makes the free exercise clause a "free rein" clause.

There is no question that this was not a casual or even occasional event but an incessant and pernicious undertaking that I felt was interfering greatly with the education and training of these young men and women.

It is my considered opinion that the officers, faculty and coaches involved in this coercive and overt evangelizing abrogated their oath to the United States Constitution and participated in a betrayal of immense proportion.

It is apparent, if not obvious, that Col. Krisinger is either the "blind who will not see" of Biblical fame or one of the Dominionists who seeks to further camouflage their unconstitutional activities.

October 18, 2008


This is a link to a paper by a Lieutenant Colonel William Millonig (USAF) at the U.S. Army War College. It's a fascinating read on how Evangelical Christianity came to pervade the military (esp. the Air Force), and buttresses pretty much everything you've said. While it's an academic paper, it's rather bold of Millonig to put the naked truth on the table and lucky for him, he attended the Army War College - no way such a paper would fly at the Air War College.

October 18, 2008


You, and your tribe, are the people who give Jews a bad name!

John C. Parker

And a reply...


You have now joined the ranks of those who blame the one who has been beaten-upon merely because the beaten-one protested. Perhaps you do not realize or even care that the "beater" is a Jew who "beat" upon another Jew. Protest, we will. And we will protest each and every incident of bigotry. We will protest even for you, sir, should you ever feel the pain of a "beating" upon YOUR sholders.

Just contact Mikey. You know how. He will feel your pain.

MRFF's Mikey Weinstein
portrayed in major theater production at Kirk Douglas
Theater in Los Angeles

September 21st - October 26th

MRFF President and Founder Mikey Weinstein's Federal lawsuit against the United States Air Force in October 2005 was an igniting spark to uncover the unconstitutional religious infiltration of fundamentalist evangelism in the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.  This play features Mikey’s struggle as part of the larger tapestry of events occurring in and around Colorado Springs.

Click here for tickets and showtimes

Special Offer
$20 Tickets!

Offer Valid through Oct. 26th
Mention code CIVILIANS or enter
on website when purchasing tickets.

Not valid on previously purchased tickets or Saturday Nights.
Cannot be combined with any other offer.

The Beautiful City Poster

A mesmerizing, fiercely intelligent portrait of Colorado Springs.

The Civilians, the OBIE-Award winning theatre company from New York City known for their boldly theatrical snapshots of the human psyche, brings its newest project to the Kirk Douglas Theatre.

In this new play with music, they tackle the fervor behind the Evangelical movement, the effect its growth had on its unofficial U.S. capital, Colorado Springs, and the confusion of a community in crisis following the scandalous fall of pastor Ted Haggard.

Created from interviews with actual persons and featuring music by the award-winning composer of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, This Beautiful City is a fiercely intelligent, explosive and ultimately sincere exploration of a uniquely American phenomenon and its passionate followers.

Co-produced with the Vineyard Theatre, New York.

The Beautiful City Photo

Click on the image above to watch a 1 minute promotional video for
The Civilians' This Beautiful City performed at Actors Theatre of Louisville's Humana Festival of New American Plays in March 2008.

Is there a "Shadow Government"
In The Pentagon?

Thriller Partially Based Upon MRFF-Discovered
Shocking Evidence Sheds Light on Secret
Religious Organization in the Military

Apocalypse Directive book cover

Washington, D.C. –In The Apocalypse Directive [Dorchester Publishing], the new political thriller from Washington insider Douglas MacKinnon, the President of the United States is a devout Christian frustrated with what he sees as the downfall of mankind.  With the help of like-minded individuals in the top echelons of the government, the president hatches a plan that is not only horrifying in scope, but entirely plausible. 

Ian Campbell is a former Navy SEAL and currently the White House Deputy Chief of Staff.  He is taken into the president’s inner circle—only to realize the president is about to bring about the end of the world because this Commander in Chief believes it is God’s will.  With the assistance of covert organization of high-ranking military leaders and government officials, the plan is launched and appears headed for completion. While unsure of what is actually happening, the president raises the suspicion of the first female Vice President and another government sub-group determined to stop the president.

There is an important connection within this book to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. The religious group in the novel, “The Christian Ambassadors,” is based on the real-life group “The Christian Embassy.”  MRFF was the first entity to break the Christian Embassy story internationally in December 2006 (after a textual reference to same in a Harper's article by Jeff Sharlet, bestselling author of the recently released blockbuster "The Family") via a heavily attended press conference at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. MRFF demanded a DoD Inspector General office investigation into the organization, which resulted in the official recommendation of "corrective action" for multiple high-ranking officers within the Pentagon. Powerful editorials in The Washington Post have criticized this group for filming a fundraising video at the Pentagon and interviewing high-ranking officers who were in uniform.  A recent New York Times story revealed that U.S. Military Academy cadets and Naval Academy midshipmen routinely face intense religious proselytizing by this group. In addition, other portions of the book are directly based on and cite specific evidence which MRFF was the first entity to discover and make public.

Using a fast-paced narrative, and drawing on a background in military and White House affairs, MacKinnon brings the reader into the Oval Office, aboard Air Force One and into government meetings conducted at the highest levels.  By shedding light on religious extremism, he raises pointed questions about the role of faith in military leadership and its place in the hierarchy of national defense issues.

Douglas MacKinnon was a senior advisor to former Sen. Bob Dole.  He has served as a high-level Pentagon official with Top Secret clearance.  Before the Pentagon he served at the White House as an aide to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He is a nationally syndicated columnist and a frequently quoted political analyst.  He is a native of Dorchester, Massachusetts.

Click Here to Order Book from Amazon.com

Read Douglas MacKinnon's article in The Huffington Post

Read Chris Rodda's Book Review from The Huffington Post

Mikey Weinstein and his family are featured
in Oscar nominated director
Oren Jacoby's newest documentary.

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The constitutional violations occurring in our military are so numerous and widespread that we can't possibly find all of them ourselves. MRFF counts on its supporters and volunteers -- the indispensable "eyes and ears" who alert us to everything from the most egregious of constitutional violations to articles we might be interested in.

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