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The first American casualty of the Vietnam War was killed during a training mission on this date in 1957. Of the 58,193 Americans in the military who died in that war, only 269 were Jewish. Jews were protesting instead of fighting: In 1964, they were twice as likely as Protestants and Catholics to favor a U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam; by 1970, when a majority of Protestants and Catholics still favored fighting or even escalating the war, half of American Jews favored an immediate pullout. A 1966-67 survey by the American Council of Education revealed that the best single predictor of anti-war campus protests was a high proportion of Jewish students.
“I’ve been in combat plenty of times, captured lots of bad guys and invariably got lots of information out of them using cigarettes, medical care and food.” —Col. Jack Jacobs, winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1969, commenting in 2009 on the use of torture by the George W. Bush administration
Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.