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JERUSALEM – The 10 million-member Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. joined the Israel Defense Forces in issuing an unprecedented stinging rebuke of a German official for comments about late British Major-General Orde Wingate, a WWII hero and Israeli icon.
Michael Blume, the bureaucrat tasked with fighting antisemitism for the southwestern German state of Baden-Württemberg, has repeatedly called the decorated war hero and deeply religious Christian Wingate a “war criminal” and “British murderer.”
When asked about Blume’s attacks on Wingate, Israel Defense Forces spokesman Lt.-Col. Richard Hecht told Fox News Digital, “Orde Wingate’s spirit and disruptive thinking were an inspiration to the founding fathers of the IDF, and he is deeply admired until today.”
Christians United for Israel Action Fund Chairwoman Sandra Hagee Parker told Fox News Digital, “Given his history of anti-Jewish bigotry, that Blume is allowed to stay in his present role is an embarrassment to the people of Germany and makes a mockery of the fight against antisemitism. Mr. Blume is plainly an antisemite who should be fired immediately.”
The Chindit Memorial is a war memorial in London that commemorates the Chindit special forces, which served in Burma under Major General Orde Wingate in World War II. The memorial was erected in Victoria Embankment Gardens in 1990 near the Ministry of Defence headquarters and commemorates Wingate, who died in active service in Burma in 1944. (Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images.)
CUFI is one of the Jewish state’s most important nongovernmental allies in America and the world.
Retired Col. Nelson Mellitz, national commander of the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A., told Fox News Digital that his organization “celebrates the extraordinary military record of Major General Orde Wingate. As a decorated British Army officer during the 1930s and World War II, Wingate’s service is revered by Israelis, Americans and the British in creating special military units.”
Mellitz served 32 years in the U.S. Air Force and continues a family legacy of over 80 years serving in the JWV.
“JWV vehemently disagrees with German Commissioner Michael Blume’s characterization of Wingate as a war criminal and British murderer and urges Blume to resign or for Baden-Württemberg officials to immediately remove him from office,” Mellitz said.
“Wingate’s legacy continues with streets and squares in Israel named after him, as well as Israel’s National Center of Physical Education and Sport also bearing his name. In the United States, Wingate is honored by being buried in the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. These lasting tributes to Wingate are fitting memorials.”
The JWV was founded in 1896 and is the leading organization for Jewish uniformed service members and veterans in the United States.
“I have not heard or seen Michael Blume’s comments, but I would say that anyone in Germany looking for real war criminals would better spend their time personally examining the 70,000-plus Stolperstein (‘Stumbling Stones’), small brass plaques set in the pavement outside the last known addresses of the innocent victims murdered in Germany during the reign of the National Socialists,” said military historian Tony Redding, author of “War in the Wilderness: The Chindits in Burma 1943-1944. “There are plenty of Stolperstein memorials in Baden-Wurttemberg.”
Major General Orde C. Wingate was a brilliant military tactician, and his methods are still taught in military schools around the world. (© CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
Wingate famously created and led a special unit called the Chindits (officially the “Long Range Penetration Groups”) that conducted guerilla warfare behind Japanese lines in the Burmese jungle. Wingate and nine other persons were returning from Burma March 24, 1944, when their USAAF B-25 bomber crashed in northeastern India, killing everyone aboard.
Former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, a military historian and an expert on Wingate, told Fox News Digital that Blume “should resign.” Oren, a former deputy minister in then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, also served as a paratrooper during the First Lebanon War in 1982.
Leading Israeli and British military officers issued withering criticism of Blume’s anti-Wingate remarks.
“The late Orde Wingate was a trailblazer and revolutionary military commander whose daring raids and tactics are still studied at military schools around the world,” Brig.-Gen. (res.) Amir Avivi, founder and CEO of the Israel Defense and Security Forum (IDSF), told Fox News Digital, “Wingate fought gallantly against oppressors on at least three continents and will forever be enshrined in Israeli memory as a hero.”
Avivi, who commanded the IDF’s Gaza Division, said “to accuse Wingate of war crimes is a reprehensible attempt to rewrite history and blemish the exceptional legacy of a British officer. This attempt should be squarely rejected. The IDSF will continue to advocate exactly the type of military strategy that Wingate embodied — initiative, creativity and a firm belief in the justness of our cause.”
Israeli soldiers hold positions at Netiv HaAsara near the site where an IDF vehicle was directly hit by a rocket fired from Gaza Strip, injuring two and killing one May 12, 2021. (Gili Yaari/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Wingate warned as early as 1937 about the need to stop the Hitler movement’s plan to exterminate European Jewry and to create a Jewish state.
“We are in for a war sooner or later – no hope now of avoiding that after the Abyssinian fiasco [Fascist Italy’s conquest of Ethiopia] – for pity’s sake let us do something just and honourable before it comes. Let us redeem our promises to Jewry and shame the devil of Nazism, Fascism, and our own prejudices,” he wrote.
Col. (ret.) Richard Kemp, who commanded the British troops in Afghanistan, told Fox News Digital: “Wingate, a highly decorated British officer who was killed fighting for his country in the Second World War, bravely defended Jews in Palestine against murderous Arab gangs in the 1930s. He was a committed Zionist, revered as a hero and friend in Israel. That is enough to incite hatred from those opposed to Israel and Zionism.
“Germany, of all of the countries in the world, has a responsibility to fight Jew-hate at every turn. And for one of its public officials – whether or not he’s an antisemitism commissioner – to support this sickness is a cause for national disgrace. Herr Blume shames Germany and should resign or be fired.”
The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center classified Blume as antisemitic last year for his activities and rhetoric against Jews and Israel.
Fox News Digital sent numerous press queries to Blume and to the Green Party governor of the state of Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann.
Benjamin Weinthal reports on Middle East affairs. You can follow Benjamin Weinthal on Twitter @BenWeinthal.