Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America

JWV Demands Justice for Jewish Soldiers

Summer 2004

The Jewish War Veterans of the USA (JWV) protested to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld as to the discriminatory treatment accorded to Refael Chaiken and Margaret Larson, Orthodox Jews and former soldiers in the U.S. Army, who have been denied their rights as Americans to practice their religion. According to the Army's own rules, religious practices must be accommodated "unless accommodation will have an adverse impact on unit readiness, individual readiness, unit cohesion, morale, discipline, safety, and/or health." None of these criteria would have been met if the Chaikens, who were attending training classes in Arizona, had been allowed to attend Yom Kippur services and make up any classes that had been scheduled for that day. Instead, according to the Chaikens, they were given a general discharge. If their allegations are correct, their rights have been violated as they have attempted to follow the dictates of their religion. The JWV was founded in 1896 in response to anti-Semitic slurs leveled against Jews who had served honorably in the Civil War. More than 100 years after its founding, the JWV protests the treatment of Jews in the military who have been denied their right to practice their religion and still serve their country. The JWV demands that these charges be immediately investigated, that the rights of all Americans to practice their religion be affirmed, that the Chaikens be given the justice that has thus far been denied to them and that, if they request, they be returned to service.


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