An Open Letter to Mikey Weinstein
When I interviewed you a few years ago for this blog, your crusade–if you’ll pardon the term–seemed focused on the pervasive doctrine of Christian millenialist triumphalism and its undue influence on the American military juggernaut, particularly after your son’s experience at the Air Force Academy. The video filmed at the Pentagon which seemed to defy the Establishment Clause and other issues seemed like worthy causes.
There’s a fine line, however, between aggresive pursuit of injustice, indeed a Jewish value, and becoming a media whore. In the case of the latter, you can do serious damage to both your own cause and the reputation of others. In the interview I conducted with you for this blog a while back, you leveled some particularly nasty invective at Rabbi Lapp, a man who dedicated an enormous amount of time to the well-being of Jews in uniform, because he had a take on the Rabbi Goldman desertion that did not match your narrative of institutionalized anti-Semitism. Fortunately, you did not gain much traction in the media on that issue.
Now you’ve focused that same sort of unnecessary slander on Capt. (Retired) Neil Block, a man who runs one of the most successful lay Jewish programs in the military, often by sheer force of will. Did it occur to you, before you made your awful accusation that he is “the reigning Poster Child for Army religious predator apologists,” to ask any of the Jewish and non-Jewish soldiers familiar with his work as to how they feel about him? Capt. Block has the thankless task of helping Jews of all backgrounds reconcile their faith against military service, and he does it well.
Did you ask any of the other Jews who filtered through Fort Benning, such as myself, if they perceived any institutionalized anti-Semitism/religious intolerance? Aside from isolated, individual examples of ignorance, this Army, since 1994, has treated me with dignity and fairness, and I’m one of the few Torah observant Jews in my unit, something that should by all accounts have made me a target by your line of thinking.
Those of us who work with Capt. Block either on this site or with the Jewish Welfare Board would reject your tasteless characterization. Many of us with any length of time in the service similarly would dismiss your notions that the military is a place of religious intolerance.
I think the following actions would be appropriate:
1. Immediately stop impugning the character of Capt. Block and offer an apology. If you value your Jewish background, then you should know that you only damage yourself through this blatant act of lashon hara. If you continue, it only demonstrates that your faith is merely cover and not a motivating factor. This also holds true for your penchant for dropping your family’s generational service. My own family has served since the French-Indian wars; other than a SAR membership, it really gives me no more credibility on any issue than the next guy.
2. Stop adopting the patois of a grunt. In your interview here, Tikkun and any other time you can avail yourself as a media spectacle, you speak in the vernacular of a combat soldier. You were JAG. Your most hazardous duty came in the form of paper cuts. You insult those of us in combat arms professions if you presume this is the only language that either we or your perceived enemy understand.
I, for one, feel quite confident that the MRFF does not represent Jewish interests any more than it represents this unfortunate trainee at Fort Benning. I believe the MRFF is seizing this as a justification for its own existence, and to sate your own desire to be seen and heard, to be relevant. Any potential you or your organization has to do any good for Jews or other minority faith groups in the military has been marvelously squandered by your own narcissistic desires and caustic assessments of those with whom you disagree. I don’t understand how an organization with such an immature reactionary at its helm manages to prosper.
Please take this into consideration,
Sergeant Brian Kresge