Israeli-American joins Sons of Confederate Veterans
Self-proclaimed ‘Jewish redneck’ is son of former Ocean Springs police chief
By PRISCILLA LOEBENBERG
BILOXI -- Arieh O’Sullivan left South Mississippi in 1981 to join the Israeli army. He has made a life as a journalist and olive farmer in that country, but holds tight to his Southern heritage in ways that sometimes perplex his friends, co-workers and even his mother. On Wednesday, he further tightened his connection to the region of his birth by taking the oath of the Sons of Confederate Veterans at Beauvoir.
O’Sullivan, who holds dual American and Israeli citizenship, is proud of the service given by his great-great-grandfather, Alabama Calvary Lt. George A Johnson. In the oath administered by Wallace Mason of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, O’Sullivan pledged to uphold the traditions of faith in God; honor; chivalry and respect for womanhood; a passionate belief in freedom for the individual; and a military tradition of valor, patriotism, devotion to duty and a spirit of self-sacrifice.
O’Sullivan said there is an unconscious nationalistic soul many Jews carry with them that is similar to the camaraderie shared by Confederate descendants.
“I feel it flowing through me,” he said. “If you have a sense of history that you carry with you, you are enriched by it.”
O’Sullivan is the son of former Ocean Springs Police Chief Efraim O’Sullivan.
A self-proclaimed “Jewish redneck,” O’Sullivan carried a Confederate flag with him into battle with his unit, the Fighting Farmers. He kept the flag, purchased at Gettysburg when he was 12, in the spare grenade pocket of his Israeli army uniform.
He named his jeep the General Lee and attached an image of the Confederate leader to the dashboard. The jeep has a battle flag for a spare tire cover. O’Sullivan said he gets bizarre looks from people sometimes because of his conspicuous affinity for the Confederacy.
“I try to educate them,” he said. “It’s about people who stood up for something they believed in.”
O’Sullivan has worked as an Associated Press journalist and military correspondent for the Jerusalem Post. He is Mideast bureau chief for The Media Line, a news agency. He has written a book, “Redneck in the Holy Land.”
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