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


  • Richard Baker

    Dear Sgt. Kresge.

    I am president of the Colorado Springs Chapter of MRFF, a volunteer post.

    I think your recent appraisal of Mr. Weinstein and the MRFF may be a bit harsh.

    Certainly, someone in Mikey’s position having had sons and other family members put in jeopardy by Christian extremists, a wife made ill by the constant fear of personal injury by unruly Christian operatives, would be a tad feisty.

    I would suggest you step back and attempt to walk a mile in the shoes of one who has been so dreadfully maligned and damaged.

    If one wanted personal gain and self agrandizement there are certainly much easier and less stressful ways to obtain them.

    Having given up a successful law practice to engage in this endeavor Mikey has foregone many of the common pleasures and rewards that should result from long and succeful careers in the Air Force, a White House Counsel to President Reagan and a thriving law practice. But, being a man of immense integrity and love for a family, who, incidentally has given over one hundred years of military service to our great country, Mr. Weionstein opted for the chance not only to extricate his sons from the vile and unAmerican activities experienced by them at the Air Force Academy, but to extend the aegis of the MRFF to, thus far, over 9000 client cases of abuse by senior officers, NCO’s and their repective Christian organizations.

    I am sure Captain Block can take care of himself and doesn’t need the protection of a subordinate to ameliorate his situation. Actually, it sounds just a bit ingratiating to me. No offense.

    To know Mr. Weinstein is not always to love him. His dedication to the true religious freedom our wonderful constitution guranatees and the egregious violations he has faced often tries his patience and I’m sure he has been less than cordial on occassion.

    But do not be misled. His end game is to stop the unlawful and unconstitutional activites of the Dominionst in the armed forces and service adademies and to that end, a few eggs may be broken. But they will be legally broken Sergeant.

    What could have been a constructive communication on your part, I’m afraid, turned into an ad hominem attack which I’m sure will not achieve the desired result.

    One might also suggest that a toned down approach to Mikey’s demeanor on your part could elicit some agreement and a new modus operandi in your relationship. After all it is you and your comrades that are the beneficiaries of Mikey’s efforts and those of the thousands of members, volunteers and board members who give so unselfishly to guarantee that your religious freedoms not be compromised.

    As a former Air Force officer and pilot, I can identify with the stress of today’s military and would hope the travails of service would not be further exacerbated by misled and, frankly, sychophantic officers and NCO’s. Let’s work together to guarantee the freedom of religion for those who seek it and the freedom from religion for those who seek that freedom as well.

    Forgiveness is a universal tenet. If one’s tresspass, as fleeting as it might be, causes distress, please consider his plight as well as yours.

    Thank you for listening and thank you and your Captain for your service to our country.


  • Malcolm Petrook

    Very well stated, Brian. And long overdue.

  • You hit all the Mikey Weinstein talking points, Mr. Baker, but in reading your suggestions, your comment may be better directed to Mr. Weinstein. Sycophantic indeed.

    Instead of ridiculing or insulting the personnel on the ground who do bring true benefit to the lives of Jewish soldiers, perhaps Mr. Weinstein could take your sage advice and try offering, ahem, that constructive criticism which might brook a “new modus operandi” in MRFF’s relationship with those best equipped to directly help military personnel, i.e. the Jewish Welfare Board, the Jewish War Veterans, other minority religious groups, etc.

    Capt. Block is a peer in the lay service of Jewish personnel, as am I. The scathing indictment offered of his role and character I’m sure he could refute himself, but any one of us maintaining a lay program on a military installation understand his position all too well.

    Mr. Weinstein should not get a free pass because of his personal trials. His is a mission of choice, regardless of your litany of talking points. If nothing else, it would be more appropriate for him to exercise a lot more discretion before he offers up his assessments of others.

    What this case has to do with the Dominionist Conspiracy<sup>TM</sup> is beyond me. This was an unfortunate and isolated series of events at Fort Benning. They do not reveal institutionalized racism or the hand of nefarious Dominionists at the Home of the Infantry, hence my educated opinion that the MRFF and Mr. Weinstein have done more harm than good in this situation.

    I also think it’s ridiculous for either Mr. Weinstein or the MRFF to presume to speak on behalf of anyone but those who have directly contacted you.

    I await the Messiah all the day, and he’s not coming in the form of Mikey Weinstein. I’m sorry, friend, but your organization is subject to criticism no matter how lofty its goals. If the MRFF and Mr. Weinstein are ready to dish it out, there must be preparation to just as easily receive.

  • Richard Baker

    Sgt. Kresge,

    Thank you for your response.

    I can see that your heart does not lie 100% in ameliorating this apparent schism between Mr. Weinstein and your organization. Your anger is almost palpable.

    It is a shame, in a sense, because you both seem to have similar interests.

    I am not looking to fix blame or guilt here but rather to seek a solution. Surely you would not alienate an ally of such great potential over personalities?

    I can’t say who the bad guy is here not being privy to the original fall out and I do not attempt to assign responsibility for cause.

    All my prior thoughts on this issue were without regard for the original points of contention because I thought solution and healing was a better avenue than restating the problem.

    However, if you will direct me to a description of the what caused this problem I will study it and maybe understand your point a bit better.

    I really think we should be coming from the same perspective since it would seem that freedom from religious harrassment would be a paramount goal of your outfit as well MRFF.


  • Harvey Rosenfeld

    SGT Kresge,

    I write this not as a member of the Armed Forces of the United States, but as the uncle of Pvt.Michael Handman. I have been afforded the opportunity to be very close to the known details of the incident and yet far enough away to grasp some sense of objectivity.

    What began as the demeaning, public and utterly inexcusable use of anti-semitic epithets.

    The Army found that the two Drill Sergeants involved acted out of ignorance and it was an inadvertent use of derogatory language.

    Capt.(ret)Block believed the Army assessment was correct and offered no relief to my nephew or to his family. Personally, I find it hard to imagine that the Army has allowed such people of such ignorance to become “Teachers of Army Values”. Or is it that we need to truly evaluate what those “Army Values” really are?

    The verbal abuse and the lack of any intervention by either the Jewish Lay Leaders or the chain of command led to the ambush and senseless beating of Michael. A beating that rendered him unconscious and required emergency transport to the hospital. And yet, Capt(ret)Block continues to espouse the idea that this is the result of ignorance or even worse that it was prompted by Michael himself.

    Fearing further violence upon their son, his father stumbled on the website of the MRFF. He sent an e-mail to the organization.

    Mikey Weinsten and the MRFF have been able to act as an advocate on behalf of Pvt.Michael Handman and his family in dealing with the nebulous red tape of the Army bureaucracy. To the best of my knowledge, Mr.Weinstein has not made any effort to turn this into a battle against institutionalized racism nor was this a battle of wits with Capt(ret)Block.

    I do not believe that Mikey Weinstein and the MRFF have attempted to speak for anyone other than those who have sought out their counsel. Whether a Jew or otherwise, the goal of the MRFF is to ensure the strict adherence to the Constitution of the United States by the very government of the United States.

  • “To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Weinstein has not made any effort to turn this into a battle against institutionalized racism…”

    I understand you want the best for your nephew, but in standing beside Weinstein you choose an ignoble ally. He may have a reputation far wider than you realize.

    You might want to read some of the hateful things Weinstein has said about Block and about the Army before choosing to defend him. For starters, he called this an “Army hate crime” and called Block “blatantly racist” and a “predator apologist.” He has also said that the perpetrators MUST be Christians. Thus, contrary to your belief, he HAS tried to turn this into a case of “institutionalized racism” and has denigrated the character of a man he doesn’t even know.

    Weinstein minces no words in expressing the hate he feels for some religious faith groups, and for those who would stand in his way. You may want to read up on it. There are far less vitriolic people and organizations who are respected and would still stand up for your nephew’s religious freedom in the Army. In fact, Block may be one…

    There is no indication–unless you have one that hasn’t been made public–that the assault was in any way connected to the previous events. If there is further evidence, it should be made public in concert with the attacks on Block. If not, he is being attacked unfairly.

    Otherwise, an objective viewing of the available evidence seems to indicate that the “discriminatory” actions were an isolated event and the assault was unrelated. Attempts to draw conclusions of “institutional bias” or religious oppression, as Weinstein has done, are sensationalized and unfounded. Those wild mischaracterizations led to Block’s comments defending the Army handling of the case.

    Even if you consider Block’s comments overly frank or insensitive, they do not stoop to the level of Weinstein’s derogatory attacks on Block’s character or his unfounded accusations of Army conspiracies.

  • Sgt Kresge,

    Thanks for being an articulate voice of sanity in this issue. People who have good intentions, such as Mikey Weinstein, have crossed the line once they start attacking other Jews just because they have a different opinion or a different assessment of a situation than he has.

    May HaShem bless Capt Block and Rabbi Lapp for the great work they do! They are heroes!

  • Samson,

    I agree with you. My issue with Mr. Weinstein and the MRFF is exactly the pugilistic, scorched earth tone that only alienates them further from groups and individuals that could really help the Establishment Clause cause.

    For the uncle, all I can say is that only the private, those who assaulted him, and the drill sergeants can know if anti-Semitism was in their hearts. What I do know, based off my own time as a Torah observant Jew at Benning, is that individual ignorance should not be confused with an institutional policy. I have no doubt that individual prejudice, especially on the part of those who assaulted him, came into play. There’s no excuse–whether because he’s a Jew or a suboptimal performer–to assault a fellow Soldier, and I hope those involved find themselves on the bus home with bad conduct discharges.

    Mr. Baker, I have no problem with Mr. Weinstein personally. I respect his cause, just not the way he goes about it. From our end on the ground, because he alienates the military and individuals with his vituperative diatribe, he has squandered the opportunity to make a difference for anyone other than a few individuals. If his goal is to ameliorate the situation, the zero-credibility he has achieved with members of the force certainly denies him any avenue but the litigious.

    It’s why I go back to the suggestions I made initially.

    1. Apologize for hasty comments.

    2. Drop the faux grunt vernacular, and start speaking as befits a mature former JAG attorney.

    If the MRFF wants to be taken seriously, it really needs to evaluate whether the cause of religious freedom is best served by comments such as the following:

    The JWV has no spine. I’ve been completely depressed. They haven’t reached out at all, they seem to have absolutely no balls whatsoever. Somehow I think they and the ADL, Abe Foxman, have confused circumcision with castration. I don’t see any balls at all from any of them, so my response is “go back to collecting your dues.”

    Here’s my response to Rabbi Lapp. First of all that isn’t his name. I’m changing his name officially to Rabbi Lapp-dog. He’s a disgrace as an American citizen. He’s a disgrace as a Jew. If I saw him, I’d spit in his face. The only thing I know that he can do is reflect light, circulate blood and breathe. I’ve had so many complaints about him while he sat back, collecting his nice check, pulling lint out of his belly button, and becoming a speed-bump for the fundamentalist Dominionist evangelical juggernaut in our US military. What he did with Rabbi Goldman, as far as I’m concerned, makes him like a kapo in Auschwitz.

    His own words, my friend. If we have matching goals, this is not the path to cooperation.

  • Sgt Kresge,

    Thanks for the further illumination of what Mr. Weinstein has said about his fellow Jews. With his attitude we don’t need anti-semites, we can have our own worst enemies in our own camp. As we know, the Torah parshas of the last 4-6 weeks made many mentions/references to this. Too bad so many or our people don’t read or heed the parshas. I was on active duty in our wonderful Armed Forces for over 30 years, as you can imagine I’ve heard many things, but I’m glad to say that I have never heard anyone say things like that before. I think there’s an anger management issue here. I am not trying to preach but may G-d help him to heal his heart and to heal anyone who has been hurt by those words. I hope everyone just stops, takes a deep breath, and calls a cease fire.

  • Richard Baker


    I sure that those of us who have spent time in the military have heard harsh and even obscene words before fron the disgruntled, frustrated and angry.

    I’m sure JIG, MRFF and other organizations have experienced those who were venting for one reason or another.

    Our groups do not function in a Ladies Tea Society setting and we will probably have to continue dealing with such language indefinitely. I wish you could see some of the letters, e-mails and phone calls directed at Mikey and his family by the good Christians of which I speak in these posts. Far worse than anything you have described herein.

    In his frustration and concern for the over 9000 client cases MRFF has under advisement Mikey has occasionally lost it and may have even misdirected some of his anger towards those who may noy have deserved the full serving.

    Mikey is a street fighter with a law degree. Not your most savory combination to be sure. But shouldn’t we cut him a little slack?

    My arguments do not seem to have moved any of you so let me try this one.

    Have you considered forgiving Mikey for his trespass? I hear religious folks are very forgiving. I would hate to see you pass up Mikey’s enormous resources and experience in dealing with overt and coercive Christian proselytizing in the armed forces.

    Think of the synergy of combining forces and instead of wasting energy on guilt and blame, redirect it towards helping those under the specter of misplaced command influence and who must comply with illegal and unconstitutional orders?

    Our young men and women deserve to have the best assistance they can get. Let’s not interrupt that honorable goal with intramural feistiness.


  • joe bernstein

    I am a Vietnam veteran(1968-69)and when I originally joined the military in 1965 there was a lot of derogatory language used towards recruits.My drill instructors were equal opportunity bigots-they didn’t like anyone’s background.

    I dealt with other EM’s who crossed the line by cracking them upside their heads.It worked,and after one or two incidents,no one brought it up again.What I didn’t do was go whine to the Chaplain.One of my friends had a Jewish DI and he said it was worse on him because that particular would go harder on him because he didn’t want to be embarrassed as there were only 2 Jewish DI’s at Parris Island.Black DI’s were harder on Black recruits for the same reason.

    I spent 2 years in the Marines as a 6 month active duty reservist and the rest on reserve and then joined the Regular Air Force for 4 years active duty,making the rank of SSgt.(E-5 in the USAF).I encountered almost no anti semitism in the USAF except once in Vietnam from a Lt.Col. for no reason at all.He verbally abused me about my ethnic background.I wasn’t going to belt an officer.This officer was from another detachment of my unit at another base and not in my chain of command.I went to a Lt.Col.McCarthy,who was Deputy Chief of Maintenance with another(non-Jewish EM) who witnessed it and told him what occured.He blew his top and stormed over to Col.Meiklejohn,the Chief of Maintenance.Meiklejohn literally ripped the offending officer a new one.He thought I was a good NCO and a good mechanic and he wasn’t letting crap like that happen.Both McCarthy and Meiklejohn are long gone,and I pray they are in a good place because they were the kind of officers the military needs.I never felt that being Jewish held me back.

    Years later when I was hired by the Border Patrol,the Jewish man selling me my uniforms told me “this is no job for a Jew,they’ll make you miserable”-he had his own ghetto in his head.I had a rewarding career in the INS,retiring after 21 years as a Senior Special Agent

    Life is what you make it,and it sounds like Mr.Weinstein is always looking for something to complain about.

    Even though I am not a practicing Jew and my son and daughter were raised in their Mom’s faith(Protestant) I always identify myself as a Jew because our people shouldn’t ever feel or aact like victims.BTW my wife and I are married for 38 years-our marriage is both interracial and interreligious because she is Hispanic.

    My grandaughter(son’s daughter) is Jewish,Hispanic,Black,and Cherokee with my last name so I wonder how she’ll answer the Census?

    I agree with you SSGT Kresge.

  • Mordechai Y. Scher

    Shalom All, and what’s left to a Happy Sukkot!

    I don’t have enough information to formulate a stand on all of this, but I read this thread with real curiosity and interest.

    Richard Baker’s response really got the hackles up on the back of my neck, yet it seemed a rational approach to disagreement. Now I know what bothered me. I’ll bet it bothered Brian Kresge, as well; though he wouldn’t say so. The tone is condescending and demeaning. It is the subtle lording of an officer over a non-com. Reminding Brian Kresge that he is a ‘subordinate’. Accusing him of ‘ingratiating’ behaviour. Later using his rank ‘Sergeant’ for emphasis. Then pulling rank as an ‘officer and pilot’, and finishing with a thank you to ‘you and your Captain’ (sounds rather 19th century British to me!).

    As a long-ago Sergeant (in the IDF) on the ground and proud of it, I couldn’t help but react to the patronizing tone of this. If an officer had ever addressed me that way (and they never did), they would have lost my respect fast and for good. And certainly would have lost points in the argument.

    As I say, I have too little information to take a stand concerning Mikey Weinstein and his actions. As a Jew with a very traditional education and orientation, I do sometimes wonder how deep and authentic is his understanding of Judaism and applying it’s principles; as well as who provides him with such counsel. What I am sure of is Richard Baker’s attitude as displayed above would make it hard for me to see through to the actual merits of his position, as indeed it has.

    May you all be blessed by God with clarity, integrity, and a wonderful holyday!

    (Rabbi) Mordechai Y. Scher

    formerly Sgt. Scher, Israel Defense Forces combat medic and armoured infantry squad member.

  • Rabbi,

    For my part, I wish that this entire discussion was unnecessary. It does raise important questions: Where does a religious Jew with love of country find an outlet to provide service to this nation? How can we protect Soldiers who become religious once in uniform?

    Reading in between the lines of this story is a Soldier who adopted religious observance perhaps as a reaction to induction into the military. Because he himself was a learner, could that perhaps have communicated uncertainty to drill sergeants and peers who already struggle with cultural ignorance?

    I know only too well what Capt. Block has referred to…here’s a kid that shows up at Benning, suddenly becomes religious. I have no doubt in Private Handman’s spiritual authenticity…I had the same reaction at the very same place, and Chabad Lubavitch fortunately was around to offer appropriate guidance when I needed it. When I was at Benning, they shuttled us to synagogues off post until Rabbi Rutberg returned from leave. I’m not sure that Capt. Block’s program had started yet.

    If I’m sure of anything, the only thing institutionalized in the American military is a disdain (to put it mildly) with any disparity that even has the possibility of creating a departure from good order and discipline. A drill sergeant, charged with indoctrinating troops into the fold, cannot possibly react well to a kid showing up suddenly, after a few weeks, with a kipa on. It’s different if you arrive that way at the reception detachment, to be sure, and go to your basic training unit with one on your head.

    As far as the condescension goes, the thick skin comes in again. I hold a MBA and have a decent civilian job when I’m not doing the military thing. Besides, that hubris swings both ways. Fighter pilots are neat, but I’m not sure that anything really exists in the military besides Infantry.

  • Let me add, however, that a drill sergeant using racial slurs or other demeaning language should not be an appropriate reaction to religious headgear. Questioning it is one thing, insulting it or demanding its removal is something else entirely.

  • Rabbi Scher,

    Any service performed in defense of freedom, irrespective of under which nation’s flag it is given, is an honorable pursuit. Your servce in the IDF is such an honorable pursuit.

    I am aware of the long and debilitating struggle of Israel to remain intact and fulfill its rightful destiny and the many sacrifices made in that endeavor.

    It was not my intent to be condescending to Sgt. Kresge but simply to draw him out on the subject. I know now what the relationship between the Sgt. and Captain block is, which changes the complexion of my thinking relative to my original query.

    It appears that condescension is not exclusive to my bailiwick. Your musing of whether Mr. Weinstein’s understanding of the applications of Judaism and its principles are deep and authentic seems to indicate a certain judgmental attitude of your own. Judge not, lest ye…Oh well.

    Also I try not to let negative first impressions inhibit my desire to solve problems.

    The original thrust of this whole episode was to counter what appeared to be overt and overpowering Christian dominance in a secular setting as are most of the complaints filed with MRFF.

    It would seem that given all the information, the beating of the young soldier was administered in a relgious fervor. This is very common in cases to which I have been made privy. Dominion Christianity is a perverse and dangerous movenemt and needs the focus af all who are interested in true religious freedom as prescribed by our constitution.

    No one must be given a free pass to indulge in such heinous activities especially in the name of relgion. Our sons and daughters deserve better.

  • Sgt. Kresge,

    I am of the opinion that whether the young man was a recently religious person or wore the kipa to enjoy benefits of some kind or was even faking it, is irrelevant. I can assure you that a recent convert to Christianity or even a Christian with newly embellished expressions of believe such as prominently diplayed crucifix, etc., would not be savagely beaten. It also seems to me that a Drill Sergeant “reacting well or not ” to a show of religion is entirely out of line. If the religious display falls afoul of SOP, Regiulation or Code then it should be addressed, not by beatings but by prcedure. In addition, if one religious belief is favored over that of another as it appears to be in a wide area of military operation, it must also be procedurally addressed firmly and quickly.

    Conflicts between one’s dedication to the military and one’s dedication to his religion can and must be resolved by placing the primary oath of service first. In America, the constitution is first, gentlemen.

  • The original thrust of this whole episode was to counter what appeared to be overt and overpowering Christian dominance…

    And here the truth is revealed. Where has anyone, other than the MRFF, said that this had anything to do with Christians? It doesn’t matter, does it? To the MRFF, anyone who participates in religious discrimination must be Christian.

    While the subject of Kresge’s post is understandably the “unnecessary slander” of those serving the Jewish community, a quick reading of some of his interviews shows Weinstein’s vitriol for Christians is unsurpassed. He’s actually said he believes American Christians are “inevitably” going to institute “Plan B,” which includes “pogroms” and “the Holocaust.” For someone who consistently denigrates an entire faith group, he gets off fairly lightly.

    I can assure you that a…Christian…would not be savagely beaten.

    Not only is that unsupportable, it also assumes that the assault was predicated on religion, which has not been demonstrated to be true.

    If the religious display falls afoul of SOP…then it should be addressed, not by beatings but by prcedure.

    The drill sergeants used the “procedure” of telling him to remove his yarmulke, which was wrong.

    No one, not even the victim, has publicly stated that the drill sergeants had anything to do with the assault, nor that religion was the cause.

    If you have evidence that says otherwise, please provide it. To malign someone’s character without providing any justification for your assertion is intellectually dishonest, and in some places is called libel.

    For another example, Weinstein has publicly released a letter demanding the “firing of two who defended attackers of Jewish soldier in hate crime,” which is categorically untrue. Block never defended the perpetrator of the assault. The other subject of the letter hasn’t even made a public statement, yet he is accused alongside Block. Weinstein appears to be laying down a “withering field of fire” (his words) and, in Richard’s words, appears ok with breaking a few (innocent) eggs.

  • Mr. Baker,

    No one said what happened was right. All I am saying, as I’m sure you quite well understand before you move into utterly irrelevant organizational talking points, is that it is entirely an example of individual ignorance, and not the institutionalized Christian Dominionist agenda that you speak of.

    The beating was wrong, as I said, regardless of what it was predicated on. However, it is useful to understand where, if any, the origin of any anti-Semitism lay. It’s not even clear the beating was connected in any way to Handman’s Judaism, even if the MRFF is committed to that idea.

    “Judge not lest ye be judged” is a Christian precept, one that has less relevance than Judaism’s strong disdain for slander and harmful words spoken in haste.

    If you note in historical postings to this blog, we’ve followed the MRFF’s activity when it has pertained to Jewish soldiers or veterans. These are things we can be sympathetic to. However, there is a sound reason why the MRFF and Weinstein have few friends within true organizational support mechanisms. In this case and others, when Mr. Weinstein departs from Judaism’s laws concerning speech, we arrive at this point.

    Turning every incident into a sign of a pervasive Dominionist agenda may be an indicator of organizational paranoia on scale with the millenialist triumphalism Mr. Weinstein and his proxies (ahem) rail against.

    Mr. Baker, I suggest you take your “desire to solve problems” back to your organization and do some house cleaning.

  • The savage beating of this soldier is a fact.

    What I find amazing is that somehow the victim is being blamed for the beating. I don’t care if he’s a Jew, a Muslim, a Christian, a Hindu, a Zoroastrian or an atheist, it’s crystal clear his religious views were the cause of his beating.

    That any organization would support the bigotry by obfuscating the facts and trying to cover up what is apparent to even the casual bystander is shocking. To deny the truth that religious intolerance is part of life in the US military is an outrage.

    But it’s more shocking to look at this community specifically and see some within it have become apologists for the institutionalized racism, ethnic hatred and bigotry. It appears some are desperate to deny what has been present and part in the United States armed forces in the past and remains so today.

    Blame the victim. Take the heat off the chain of command, and blame either the victim or the ignorance of line soldiers, rather than admit the systemic bigotry still exists.

    For shame.

  • For shame yourself.

    See, yours is the exact kind of tendentious reaction that Mr. Weinstein inspires.

    I do not believe that denying religious intolerance is part of life in the US military is an outrage. All of us have had individual experiences of individual ignorance. To say that it is part of life, however, is a vast overstatement. I’ve served since 1994, coming into the Army in the same place this private was attacked, identifying as a Jew, wearing a kippah. Not once was I subjected to institutionalized humiliation or subjugation. It has not occured once, this idea that the military itself espouses discrimination. Quite the opposite in fact. I’m sure many would concur.

    Nobody blames the victim. All we’re saying is that individual ignorance does not display a craven anti-Semitic agenda on the part of TRADOC or the Infantry School. That is all Neil Block was saying, that is all we are saying.

    Whatever the reasons for this poor private’s beating, it seems that it was not a Code Red ordered by Colonel Jessop. Maybe his attackers were emboldened by the ignorant comments from his drill sergeants. Whatever. But this isn’t about religious intolerance or systematic bigotry.

    You hit the situation on the head. A casual bystander’s impression of the situation is all the more you have, thanks to the outlandish and wild caterwauling of the MRFF.

  • Richard Baker

    Sgt. Kresge,

    You say: “Whatever the reasons for this poor private’s beating, it seems that it was not a Code Red ordered by Colonel Jessop.”

    You seem unconvinced that this was a simple case of relgious bigotry. I believe you are in denial and perhaps, yourself, a victim of some kind of external pressure to demure on this subject. Either that, or you are considering converting to Christianity.

  • USNA Ancient

    To: Sgt. Brian Kresge, Capt. Neil Block [USN ret.], et al;

    I find your hypocrisy regarding MRFF and Mickey Weinstein nauseating and it requires me to question the efficacy of your organization [all what, 100+ “members”] in general [if it sees fit to retain either of you and your fellow “quislings”], or specifically if you don’t immediately resign. Of course Sgt. Kresge couldn’t be more interested in covering his ass and promoting his career, could he ?

    Insofar as capt. block particularly is concerned, he and I had this discussion [or -rather- his lack of any meaningful/acceptable dialog therein] when he ran for and LOST the position of Vice Chair of the Alumni’s Association & Foundation.

    I -being as “Jewish” as he -which he took particular pains to unnecessarily inform me of- [and it seems I remember you vaguely from our forced “church party” [ruled unconstitutional, eventually] where we were exposed to the basest “Jewish” bigotry in the form of an antediluvian rabbi; so much so that during Youngster year he and I had an open argument in the Synagogue, I refused thereafter to go upstairs for services with the support of 1/c and 2/c … the only pleasant memories from that 4 year experience was the sense of community among the Jewish Midshipman, the Jewish community of Annapolis, especially Marcelle and Ruby Labowitz. Obviously, you have changed … of course I imagine in large part to kowtow to the far-right wing-nuts of the evangelical movement Establishment whose attempt to subvert the military and the Government -hopefully- came to an end on 4 Nov ’08 with the demise of the rebubbacan party and the Pinnocchio and Gepetto Show which was complicit if not part of the attempt; oh, yeah, and to massage the powers that be to promote another run for the Board [guess who will not vote for you ? … AGAIN ? … and will try to stop any such effort !].

    The only one sounding the alarm … and doing it effectively -witness the death threats and fascist attacks, aided and abetted now by

    SHAME ON YOU !!!

  • Is it hypocrisy to believe that hype is hype, and truth is truth?

    I’m not invested in a belief that the military is 100% religious tolerance. Fortunately in this case, all parties close to what happened and familiar with the events said it was individual ignorance and NOT motivated by religious bigotry.

    And of course, my promotions are wrapped up in what my chain of command thinks of me and my performance, not extracurricular activities on Jews in Green. You’d think a Navy ancient would be aware of such things, but due to the tin-foil nature of the rest of that comment, I’m not sure what to make of you.

    Richard Baker, don’t be a putz. Taking a cue from your Master, when your arguments fail to convince, turning to insult is the mien. At least to your credit, you saved that for after your attempts to be semi-reasonable with your talking points.

    As we posted, justice was served. The drill sergeants involved will probably suffer in their careers, as is appropriate. The assaulting trainee was on the bus home, his actions losing him the opportunity to serve. At the end of the day, the actions of these individuals were not a result of orders from above.

    Even the Anti-Defamation League, which manages to conduct its business without useless invective, indicates they believe justice was served and a message was sent.

    It serves no purpose to jump at conspiratorial shadows. Sometimes incidents are self-contained, even if they are awful. Neil Block has a strong connection to the Infantry School where he has worked for all these years. I myself spent a considerable sum of time there for infantry training, Airborne school, and other training. None of you who question our motives or our beliefs can say the same. You make assumptions far removed from the reality of the environment, assuming that all military experiences are ubiquitous. I’m not asking you to defer to my or Neil’s experience at Benning, but it should be taken into consideration.

    Neil Block’s lay program down there provides a spiritual refuge for Jews in training from a very broad spectrum, many of whom would attest to Neil’s credibility. I’m not going to pretend I didn’t wince at some of his comments, but I wince more at Mr. Weinstein’s, because I’m better acquainted with the reality on the ground, as is Neil. The point you all want to ignore is that there are hundreds of Jews who have filtered through Fort Benning, from Lieutenant Colonel on down to Private, who have nothing but positive experiences to relate. When one private is assaulted, you immediately want to jump to systematic bigotry, when all evidence exists to the contrary. I’m still not cool with a drill sergeant calling a kid “Juden,” and in my previous comment, my experience with my German civilian employer has taught me that they do not use that term. Therefore I doubt the drill sergeant’s veracity on that matter. Still, his career was dealt an appropriate blow through his own actions. I’m definitely not cool with one private assaulting another regardless of the motivation, and that private was punished. So where in this is the Dominionist agenda made manifest? Where in this is a systematic effort to bring low Jews at Fort Benning and cover it up? You can insult myself and Neil Block all you want, but it changes nothing, and it certainly doesn’t make your case.

  • Richard Baker

    Dear Sergeant Kresge,

    Thank you for your recent response. I guess we have beaten this poor horse into insensibility if not death.

    You said: “Richard Baker, don’t be a putz. Taking a cue from your Master, when your arguments fail to convince, turning to insult is the mien. At least to your credit, you saved that for after your attempts to be semi-reasonable with your talking points.”

    Sergeant, having drifted from the point occasionally myself, I can understand your desire not to relive the awkward moments in which you had the untenable choice of defending your employer or your faith.

    I assume you meant Mikey Weinstein when you mentioned “my master.”

    As for Mikey Weinstein being my master, I suppose one could say that an honor graduate of the Air Force Academy, Air Force Judge Advocate General, White House Counsel to President Reagan, General Counsel to the Ross Perot conglomerate, and founder of a million plus member religious freedom advocacy group with over 10,000 client cases under consideration, that Mr. Weinstein may have mastered more than I. But Mikey deigns to be no one’s master. He leaves that to the many misguided Dominionist Christians who now plague our young men and women in the armed forces and service academies with overt and coercive proselytizing.

    As the once secretive story continues to be told and the many unlawful activities by organizations such as Campus Crusade for Christ Military Mission, Christian Embassy, Christian Officers Fellowship, Christian Military Fellowship, Focus on the Family, The Navigators, New Life Church and a host of other Dominion Christian groups are exposed, more and more consciencious and concerned Military and Civilian people of all stripes are coming forward to thwart this most unAmerican movement.

    Make no mistake, or excuses for that matter, Dominionism is very real and one would be fey indeed, not to recognize it’s unconstitutional intent.

    Christian Dominionism is a clear and present danger, on a par if not surpassing the international terror threat. Given the distinct possibility that Christian operatives in the military, already trained and vetted in the deployment and operation of weapons of immense destructive power could have to make the choice between obeying their God through his representstives, (I.E. Chaplains, and superior officers)or their oath to the Constitution. It is conceivable that a network of such dedicated but misled Christian personnel could make Armageddon a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    With General officers such as Chief Air Force Procurement Officer, Jack Catton, pointing out recently in a Christian Embassy film, that his loyalties lie in this order: God, Family, Country. This seems to put America and her welfare a distant third in importance. This also seems to be a broad-based Christian imperative.

    It is therefore a matter of utmost national security that the unlawful proselytizing taking place this very day in the armed forces and service academies be investigates and identified for the seditious activity is is.

    I believe your position in the lay leadership is too parochial and that you should expand your knowledge of this Dominionist movement in order to fully understand its breadth and scope. There are a number of publications available that will give you a scary but in-depth picture of this movement. Occasional visits to will keep you current on our efforts.

    To remain in even partial denial can truly aid and abet Christian Dominionism.

  • Mr. Baker, I’ll give you the last word on this one. I’m closing off comments on this topic because of MRFF-generated traffic (hey, thanks!) and the tendentious nature of comments that ordinarily follow.

    I personally lost sight of one thing: on the end of this is a soldier who may not know where he fits in either as a Jew or in the military. Whatever or however this came about, his faith in leadership and his fellow soldiers may be indelibly marred. I hope that should he remain in and try to move forward from here, he finds a lay program or rabbinical chaplain more sympathetic to his observance, and the coterie of true friends that he will find in his regular unit.

    I also offer an apology to Mr. Weinstein…all who served honorably should be accorded the basic respect they are due. I would neither insult you nor other JAG personnel for the service you provide your fellow service members or their country. Frankly, I readily admit there are issues that I think the MRFF has been spot-on. You’ve earned the right to speak however you choose to speak, though you have to accept the consequences of the things you say, as do we all, when we find our name in an article on Huffington Post.