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Survey Shows Many Jews, Non-jews(in Air Force Deeply Sympathetic Toward Israel

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A survey of more than 3,000 Air Force officers, enlisted men, and chaplains shows they expressed a deep sympathy and understanding of Israel’s military position in the Middle East. At the same time, they expressed a moral dilemma, like the rest of the nation, regarding the Vietnam War. These were the findings of Rabbi Alvan D. Rubin of Temple Israel after a nine-day tour of five Air Force bases in Alaska as part of an interfaith research team for the Air Force Chief of Chaplains. Rabbi Rubin, who serves on the National Commission on Jewish Chaplaincy of the Jewish Welfare Board, said that in his conversations, he found both Christian and Jewish military personnel admiring the “guts” of Israel in standing up for its rights in the Middle East. He said that many an Air Force member told him that, “We know Israel is the only country that we can count on.” At a special service with a congregational group in Anchorage, Alaska, Rabbi Rubin said that Jewish military personnel and their families expressed the same concerns as the rest of the Jewish community. He said that Israel gave them a new sense of pride, “particularly since it opened up a dialogue and rapport with their Christian colleagues.” These Jewish families, Rabbi Rubin said, were proud of the Jewish campaign to help Soviet Jews. They were also concerned about the future of Jewish education, he said. “They felt the need for Jewish education due to their extreme isolation. I was the first rabbi they encountered for months,” Rabbi Rubin, a veteran of the chaplaincy program, said that a drastic change has taken place in the approach towards this work. “It is no longer only a counselling program, but an aggressive teacher and searcher of the moral confrontations facing society as seen through the teachings of religion.” Referring to the Vietnam War, he reported that “like most Americans, the military on these bases were engaged in a series of discussions and study programs on various moral dilemmas confronting our nation…The war gnaws at their conscience.”

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