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Friday, February 20, 2009

A question of loyalty

I have a new/original essay up on the OU site today.  Here's a taste:

Years ago when I was serving in the US Navy, a shipmate asked me which side I would I fight on if the U.S. and Israel ever went to war against each other.

To answer him, I pulled down a book I had just finished on the life of (Confederate General) Robert E. Lee.  Apparently, when Lee was a Colonel in the U.S. Army and was asked by one of his junior officers if he planned to resign his commission and fight for the Confederacy, he had responded:

"I shall never bear arms against the Union, but it may be necessary for me to carry a musket in the defense of my native state, Virginia, in which case I shall not prove recreant to my duty."

You can read the whole thing here.

Posted by David Bogner on February 20, 2009 | Permalink


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Beautiful article. I have also been asked about 'dual loyalties' (primarily by secular relatives) and it's hard to verbalize. I will definitely be forwarding this.
Shabbat Shalom! Hope all is well with the family.

Posted by: Sara K | Feb 20, 2009 4:33:22 PM

"Years ago when I was serving in the US Navy, a shipmate asked me which side I would I fight on if the U.S. and Israel ever went to war against each other (I know... incredibly stupid question, but you had to have met the questioner to understand)?"

I don't think that's a stupid question. In fact, it's a very legitimate question which applies to every person with dual citizenship, not just olim from the US. I've spent a lot of time around dual citizens and due to things I've seen and heard, I have wondered at times about their loyalty. People will wonder. In regard to American Jews, the Jonathan Pollard affair didn't help, although most Americans have never heard of him.

From your descriptions of the your time aboard your last ship (today and in the past), I get the impression that you were quite open about your Jewishness and your desire to go to Israel. That was something those guys had never experienced and wouldn't have understood, so it would have raised some eyebrows. There was a Jewish Yeoman on my last boat that was very open about his feelings for Israel and was openly proud of being a Jew. Nobody really knew how to take him, but I don't think anyone doubted his loyalty to the US or cared about what he was.

In any case, Israel is your home. G_D gave it to you and if you felt led to make aliyah, then so be it. No problem.

As for Bobby Lee, one must look at the way things were in those days. Back then, the nation wasn't as tight-knit as it is now. The US wasn't seen as a single nation, it was seen as a federation of semi-autonomous states, with 'state' meaning 'nation.' For people back then, their first loyalty was to their state and not to the US as a whole. When Virginia left the union, Lee felt he had no choice but to go with the Commonwealth. As you pointed out, he wasn't too happy with the idea, but as far as he was concerned Virginia's legislature made the decision for him. And the rest is history.

Posted by: Karl Newman | Feb 20, 2009 4:47:49 PM

Nice article.

It prompted me to come here, and now, I will have to look around a bit.

Regarding Pollard, He broke the law, he is serving his time.
Too bad his sentence was grossly disproportionate to the crime.

Posted by: BurtB | Feb 21, 2009 3:19:35 AM

Nicely written, David.

Posted by: Val Bogner | Feb 21, 2009 5:57:36 AM

Hmmm. That will never be an issue, ever. Not even the remotest chance. You may find yourself some day facing Russian tanks driven by Syrian soldiers, or in the target sites of terrorists using Iran-supplied equipment. Honestly everything I can think of is awful, and for that I am sorry. But the article today is just a cute exercise of the imagination. Although ... our country is going to hell in a hand basket as the irresponsible banks are being bailed out by borrowing massive amounts of money from my children, which presumably will be paid by when they become older and get a job in what will be come a less free and more socialist society. And when we can't pay the Chinese I am afraid we might be looking down the barrel of their guns if we become too weakened. A bit of hyperbole I know, true, but the flavor of it isn't very off the mark of reality. The world is entering a difficult time and everything people thought was true will be tested. Feel free to remove my post if it is too "down." Anyway, Israel will always be friends with us here in the U.S., except for a small few in our government, of whom we will boot out should they get confused about who we care about. Just sayin'

Posted by: Seattle | Feb 21, 2009 7:46:22 AM

I assure you, if it came to it, my two sons now serving in the U.S. military would cross the line to serve beside yours -- and I speak as an American and a Christian. God gave us no choice when He said [as render in the thundering King James]: "I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee."

Posted by: Bob | Feb 21, 2009 7:48:25 AM

Beautiful article. But I think if the U.S. (or in my case, Canada) became the sort of country that would attack Israel (Gd forbid), I would have left a long time before. Anyway, food for thought.

Posted by: Chantal | Feb 22, 2009 9:57:58 PM

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