ADL Commends Army for Dismissing Soldier Who Assaulted Jewish Trainee
Update: (August 6, 2009) In response to the assault, the U.S. Army annouced various steps to improve support services for Jewish trainees on the base at Ft. Benning. More
Atlanta, GA, November 1, 2008 …The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today commended the U.S. Army for acting decisively to punish a Fort Benning recruit who assaulted Pvt. Michael Handman in a barracks laundry room last month. The Army announced that the soldier was "punished under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and administratively separated for misconduct."
ADL worked with the Army to resolve two incidents involving Handman. First, he was the subject of anti-Semitic taunts by two drill sergeants who forced him to remove his yarmulke during dinner in a Fort Benning dining hall. The drill sergeants were reprimanded, sent to a program that teaches respect for diversity and will now teach the lessons of that program to other soldiers. In the other incident, Handman was attacked and sent to the hospital with a concussion.
News of the termination came yesterday, when ADL Southeast Regional Director Bill Nigut attended a series of meetings with Army officials at Fort Benning. The meetings included the Army's Chief of Chaplains Major General Douglas Carver, Senior Army Rabbi Jacob Goldstein, and Col. Chuck Durr, Fort Benning Chief of Staff.
"ADL's top concern in dealing with the Handman case has been to make sure the Army sends a strong message that they will punish acts of bigotry and bullying severely," said Mr. Nigut. "We applaud them for terminating the recruit who attacked Pvt. Handman and for disciplining the two drill sergeants who taunted him."
Army officials insist that their investigation showed that the attack was not related to Handman's religion. ADL continues to believe that the previous anti-Semitic slurs directed at Handman may have singled him out for the beating.
Mr. Nigut said that the meetings at Fort Benning yesterday were a good opportunity to discuss how Fort Benning officials can improve efforts to promote respect for religious diversity. "It was gratifying to learn that Rabbi Goldstein has spent two days at Fort Benning assessing the climate for Jewish soldiers there and that he plans to develop a set of recommendations for giving soldiers at the base a better sense of Jewish religious practices and customs."
Army officials reported that Pvt. Handman continues to be housed in a secure location at Fort Benning. He was moved to that facility after ADL expressed its concerns for Handman's safety after the attack.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.