Today’s Forward editorial, “Our Forgotten Defenders,”reminds American Jews of the sacrifices our Jewish servicemen and women are making overseas – not just by serving in the IDF but by deploying to Iraq Afghanistan while serving in the U.S. military. The tally of American Jewish servicemen and women killed in these wars has risen to 50, though the National Museum of American Jewish Military History says there may be many more among the deceased whose religion isn’t known. The piece begins:
In mid-August, 127 Americans flew to Israel with the intention of joining the Israel Defense Forces. They arrived at Ben-Gurion International Airport to a boisterous and well-organized welcome, complete with a live band, balloon hats, and a speech delivered personally by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photos of would-be soldiers joyously dancing in the airport arrival hall circulated on the Internet, while many of their parents posted proud but anxious messages on Facebook.
“You’ve decided to defend the Jewish future,” Netanyahu told them.
About a month before this well-reported scene — on July 21, to be exact — Michael Brodsky died in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, from injuries caused by an improvised explosive device. He was 33 years old. He died as a member of the United States Navy, and as a Jew. When he and his brother enlisted right after the September 11 terrorists attacks, they got matching tattoos of the Star of David. And when Michael was deployed, his father told the Forward, he carried an Israeli flag with him.
As a Jewish community, we rightly celebrate the commitment and passion of the young Americans determined to contribute to the defense of Israel. But do we pay as much attention to the many more American Jews who have served in the deadly theatres of war in Iraq and Afghanistan for nearly 11 years?
In two separate pieces, the Forward profiled 37 Jewish service members slain in Iraq and Afghanistan in February of 2011 and followed up just a few days ago with a profile of 13 others.