By Harrison Heller

Hate groups have always existed, but in the current environment they have emerged from the shadows. Some new actors have jumped from the digital

Sgt. Christopher Buckley

world to the physical world to start collaborating with older hate groups.

According to a MilitaryTimes poll in October 2017, one in four troops witnessed examples of white nationalism among their fellow troops. The poll also found that 42 percent of non-white active duty troops reported personally experiencing white nationalism within the military.

In September, Parents for Peace, a group that fights all forms of extremism, organized a discussion in Washington, D.C. The audience heard from three panelists, including Christopher Buckley, an Afghanistan veteran who joined the Ku Klux Klan.

Buckley had a seemingly normal upbringing with his family in Cleveland, Ohio, but can now see the first sign of where his hatred originated. His parents were never racist in public, but at home they would occasionally include racial slurs in their conversations. When he was seven-years-old, his cousin started dating a black man. His parents told him not to speak with his cousin. “Interracial relationships should not exist because mixed kids have no place in this world because they do not know where they belong,” Buckley said they told him.

At school Buckley had few friends and said his peers often bullied him, leaving him feeling broken and alone. When he told his parents about his best friend at the time who was of Lebanese descent they said, “That is the problem with this country.”

After September 11, 2001, military recruiters went to Buckley’s high school and he decided to enlist in order to get revenge for those attacks.
During basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, Buckley felt the military used sophisticated methods in order to dehumanize other people. He said commanding officers frequently used ethnic slurs to describe the people he would be fighting against in Arab countries. He considered it similar to using racial slurs during other U.S. conflicts when describing the Germans, Japanese, and Vietnamese. At the rifle range, paper targets that started out as silhouettes of a person were replaced by images of Muslim men. In close quarters combat training, the actors were in full Muslim dress. Buckley said this is when his hatred of Muslims started to grow.

In Afghanistan, Buckley saw Islam through a very controlled and unfavorable lens. On base he heard ethnic slurs and disparaging remarks about Muslims. At night, some troops burned copies of the Quran and urinated on them. When he had time to venture out into the community, he felt on edge and acted aggressively toward the local people. He viewed everyone as a potential threat. The troops who did not feel anger and resentment towards Muslims would call out their fellow soldiers for this negative behavior.

The lens through which Buckley viewed Muslims and Islam grew even narrower after the death of a colleague, who happened to be a close friend. Buckley stopped for a smoke break with a fellow soldier while they were on patrol. Shots were fired, and the other soldier died. Buckley blamed Islam for his friend’s death and says the little flame of hate turned into a raging inferno. “All the negative experiences I had with Islam happened in the military,” Buckley said.

The military offered Buckley counseling services when he returned to the U.S. in March of 2009. The services were difficult to access so Buckley did not take advantage of them. Buckley joined the National Guard in Kentucky, but in May of 2009, a training accident led to his honorable discharge.
When one of his black friends started dating his sister-in-law, he began searching online for ways to protect the white race. One of those searches led Buckley to the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (LWK).

The Anti-Defamation League considers LWK one of the largest and most active Klan groups in the United States. The LWK practices traditional Klan ideology blended with neo-Nazi beliefs. At their cross-lighting ceremonies, they also light a swastika.

The KKK inducted Buckley in June of 2014, and he ultimately reached the rank of Imperial Nighthawk, in which he provided security for the Grand Wizard of the LWK.

Eventually, Buckley started to realize the KKK was something he no longer wanted to be involved with. His substance abuse had validated his anti-Muslim and racist beliefs, but when sober, he did not want to be part of the group.

Buckley’s wife Melissa contacted Arno Michaelis, a former skinhead, to get some help. Michaelis said that Buckley was in rough shape when they first met, and it took months before he could get him to leave the KKK in 2016. Buckley is currently working on a 12 step program that helps those escaping hate groups.

Many former white supremacists volunteer their time to help others leave these types of groups. However, Michaelis says it’s difficult when these hate groups target newly discharged veterans. He said the groups use the veterans’ military training to encourage them to protect America.

During our conversation, Buckley compared Muslim extremists to those involved with the white supremacy movement. “They are small groups of people, very poor, who are overlooked and angry about their environment and living conditions. This kind of correlates to rural America. Look at where white supremacy is bred.” He added, “We are the world’s finest fighting force…but at what cost? We are not only dehumanizing our enemy, but also dehumanizing our soldier.”

Parents for Peace operates a confidential hotline that assists families and those who have been radicalized. If you know anyone who might have been radicalized, or a family that has been impacted, please contact the hotline at 1-844-49-PEACE. Parents for Peace is also trying to collaborate with veteran service organizations to bring awareness to the issue of veteran radicalization and how to combat it.

Volume 73. Number 4. 2019

By Larry Jasper

Thanks to the Missing in America program, a special internment ceremony on September 26 brought 12 veterans and five spouses of veterans to their final resting place at Sarasota National Cemetery in Florida. The remains of these individuals were unclaimed for as long as 14 years before this ceremony.

More than 400 people attended the ceremony, which included a motorcade of veterans and county police, a flag detail, and an honor guard representing all U.S. military branches.

I was honored to carry the cremains of Pfc. Charles William Livingston, a World War II veteran who passed away in 2011 at the age of 85.
Other members and patrons who represented the JWV Department of Florida at the event included Georgi Jasper, Boris Stern, and Dr. Bill Luria.

The Missing in America program was founded in 2006 to locate, identify, and inter the unclaimed remains of veterans through joint efforts between private, state, and federal groups. Missing in America has identified the cremains of approximately 4,500 veterans out of the 20,000 cremains found so far. In many cases, the cremains belonged to veterans who were homeless or had no next of kin. Their ashes were put in a box and left on a shelf.
The Missing in America Project hopes to identify every forgotten veteran and ensure they are interred with the honor and dignity they deserve.

Volume 73. Number 4. 2019

 

By Larry Katz

Veterans Day events were more than just opportunities for barbeques and family get-togethers for Congregation Shaarey Zedek (CSZ) Religious School students. A new program started this year to ensure students remember and honor Jewish veterans.

This joint venture between the CSZ Religious School and the Jewish War Veterans Department of Michigan took place on Sunday, November 18, 2019. The goal of the program is to introduce meaningful interpersonal experiences into the school’s curriculum, allowing students to learn the lessons of history proactively, educating and inspiring students about the sacrifices necessary to protect and preserve the freedoms we enjoy, and building intergenerational connections within the synagogue.

Thirty-seven students attended the three sessions at the CSZ Berman Center for Jewish Education.
In the first session, the veterans and students gathered together in the library. Veterans introduced themselves and shared stories about their military experience. Several brought photographs and other visual materials to show the students.

The second phase of the program consisted of three breakout sessions. Students were matched with veterans in a more personal setting, enabling one-on-one discussions. The veterans tailored each session to the ages of the students.

The third and final phase of this program was a return to the library with the veterans addressing any follow-up questions based on what the students had learned from the veterans and what the veterans had learned from the students.

Future local projects with CSZ and JWV will feature structured dialogue with current and former military service members and their families, field trips to military sites, cemeteries, museums, memorials. and other sites dedicated to the victims of war and genocide, and other proactive events including face-to-face dialogues with people who have devoted their lives to public service as well as those who benefitted from their sacrifice and courage.

Volume 73. Number 4. 2019

By Steve Markman

A small group from Post 587 in Dayton, Ohio flew to Washington D.C. as part of an Honor Flight on September 7, 2019. The five post members joined more than one hundred others on the trip. There were six World War II veterans, 13 who fought in Korea, and the rest served in Vietnam.

Honor Flight is a nationwide program that flies veterans to Washington, D.C. to see their memorials. The trip is free for the veterans, funded solely by private and corporate donations. Our trip was sponsored by Frontier Technology, Inc., a defense contractor with offices around the country.

We left Dayton International Airport at 6:30 a.m. and landed at Reagan National Airport at 8:00 a.m. As we taxied down the runway, fire trucks sprayed a water canon salute over the aircraft. The ground crew lined up next to the plane to wave American flags as we pulled into the gate. More than one hundred others greeted us inside the airport with cheers and more waving flags.

We boarded buses and headed to Arlington National Cemetery along with a police escort to see the Changing of the Guard ceremony. From there, we drove past the Iwo Jima Memorial, then stopped at the Air Force Memorial for lunch. After lunch, we headed to the Lincoln Memorial, and then walked to both the Vietnam and Korean War Memorials. I lost count of how many times visitors on the National Mall came over to welcome us to D.C. and thank us for our service. Our last stop of the day was the National World War II Memorial.

All of us on the trip served in the days before email and text messages. A letter from home handed out during mail call was usually the highlight of the day. During our flight home that night, Honor Flight called out our names and gave us each an envelope stuffed with letters. The letters were from kids and adults who wanted to express their appreciation for our military service. Honor Flight even had our family members write letters to put in those envelopes.

When we landed in Dayton, Honor Flight had one last surprise waiting for us. After getting off the airplane, we were led toward the main lobby of the airport by a group of bagpipers. In the lobby, there were at least a thousand people cheering and waving flags, as well as a band and even an honor guard from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Although we know attitudes toward those who served in the military has changed since the height of the Vietnam War, this experience was still overwhelming.

If you’ve ever thought about going on an Honor Flight trip, I highly recommend it. You’ll have a great day and experience appreciation from your fellow citizens for your service. If you live near an Honor Flight hub, you should go to the airport to help welcome veterans home from their trips. We’ve added that as an activity for our Dayton post members.

Volume 73. Number 4. 2019

By Harvey Weiner, National Commander

Each year the JWV National Commander flies across the pond to participate in a special Remembrance Day ceremony and parade with our British

Linda Weiner, National Commander Harvey Weiner, Ritual Director Mickey Nathanson, his wife, and PNC David Magidson at the Saturday morning services of the West London Synagogue for British Jews.

counterpart organization, AJEX. The trip typically includes a stop in Brussels for a two-day briefing at SHAPE and NATO, but the organizers canceled that stop this year due to a visit by the U.S. Secretary of State.

I still went to the ceremony in London, along with my wife Linda, Past National Commander David Magidson, and his wife Marilyn Mittentag.
The AJEX Annual Remembrance ceremony and parade takes place a week after the annual London Armistice Day parade and celebration. AJEX stands for the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and is a remarkably active organization, considering Great Britain has not been involved in any major wars since World War II. More than 1,000 people marched in the parade, and an equal number of spectators lined the parade route. Considering there are only about 260,000 Jews in all of Great Britain and 158,000 Jews in London, this attendance is noteworthy. It appears all sections of the Jewish community are supportive of AJEX.

The ceremony took place at the Cenotaph near Westminster in the center of London. During the ceremony I laid a wreath of poppies in honor of the U.S. forces who served in all theaters of war. There were also representatives from France and Israel. Linda and Marilyn escorted Renee Salt, a Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz survivor and prominent speaker about the Holocaust.

Prior to the parade, we attended a reception at the Institution of Civil Engineers headquarters, where I spread JWV’s message to everyone at each of the more than 20 tables. After the parade, the new AJEX commander hosted a dinner.

The day after the parade we toured the new American Embassy with a three-person briefing team. The leader was a Jewish Department of Defense Attaché who served as a Rear Admiral. I hope he and another one of the Jewish briefers will join JWV.

With the assistance of new JWV National Chaplain Rabbi Mark Winer, two new events were added to the London trip. The day before the parade we attended services at the West London Synagogue of British Jews, the largest Reform synagogue in Great Britain. Winer served as the rabbi there for more than a decade before his retirement.

The morning of our visit to the Embassy, we met with the David Sumberg at the Jewish Museum of London. David is a Jewish ex-member of Parliament and shared his knowledge about the status of Jews in Great Britain.

This trip is helpful in spreading the messages of JWV and enhancing relationships with Jewish veterans from other nations. I hope to complete the Brussels part of the excursion at a future date.

Volume 73. Number 4. 2019

By Deborah Josefson

A monument and square named after a Jewish American soldier lies in the town of Petange at the southwest border of the tiny country of Luxembourg, where France and Belgium meet. This soldier was my great-uncle, 2nd Lt. Hyman Josefson. He was the first American soldier to die for the liberation of Luxembourg. For 45 years he was the quintessential Unknown Soldier, but for the people of Luxembourg, he represented the ultimate sacrifice of American GIs.

Procession to Hyman Josefson Square led by Duke Henri (front center) flanked by dignitaries including Petange Mayor Pierre Molina and U.S. Ambassador J. Randolph Evans.

The people of Luxembourg commemorate their liberation from the Nazis and the sacrifice of Josefson and other American GI’s each year. Every five years, the celebrations include visits from the country’s Grand Duke, the U.S. Ambassador, and other dignitaries. As they did this September 9, the officials visit Hyman Josefson Square to lay wreaths in honor of the American troops. The liberation festivities continue with a week of pro-American parades, displays of vintage World War II military vehicles, American-style barbeques and Rockabilly music festivals.

Josefson was a first generation American and one of 550,000 GI Jews. These Jewish American men felt their service in World War II was both an act of patriotism and a fight against Hitler for the survival of their brethren.

An accomplished lawyer and engineer, Josefson was already 32 when he voluntarily enlisted just six weeks after Pearl Harbor.
Josefson was born in South Fallsburg, New York in 1909 to Harry and Lena Josefson of Iasi, Romania. He entered Cornell University at age 15 on an academic scholarship with a perfect score on the state scholarship exam. After graduating in 1929 with a civil engineering degree, Josefson stayed at Cornell for another two years to receive his law degree.

As a young lawyer, he argued before the New York State Supreme Court and Court of Appeals on matters of interstate commerce and transportation.
When the U.S. entered World War II, Josefson enlisted in the Army. He trained at Fort Knox and joined the 5th Armored Division’s 85th Calvary Reconnaissance Squadron. After two years of training in the U.S., his unit landed at Utah Beach on July 24, 1944. They marched through Normandy and Northern France, reaching the Belgian border by September 2.

Hyman Josefson

Luxembourg’s Prince Felix and Crown Prince Jean joined the allies, and by September 7 they were fighting alongside the 5th Armored Division, gearing up for a return to their homeland.

As a platoon leader and car commander of the 85th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, Josefson was an advance man. His mission was to find, fix, and fight. In other words, to ascertain the strength and disposition of the enemy, remove obstacles, and clear the way for further combat.
On September 9, 1944, by mid-day, Josefson’s armored M8 Greyhound Patrol car is the first to breach the Belgian border and enter Petange, Luxembourg. But the celebratory air is severely dampened when a hidden Wehrmacht cannon hits Josefson’s Greyhound just as it approaches a flour mill. Josefson is killed, and three others in his car were wounded.

Gunner Cyril Mayrose, technical sergeant and driver Burt Magee, and radio operator John Mitchell escaped the car, which continued to burn for days.
The crowd that saw it happen erected a makeshift memorial near the flour mill.

Meanwhile, the Americans pushed on and liberated Luxembourg City on September 10, returning Prince Felix and Prince Jean to the Grand Duchy.
In 1947, a permanent monument replaced the makeshift memorial. The inscription honored the memory of the unknown American soldier who died for the liberation of Luxembourg.

In 1989, Mayrose told the city that their unknown soldier was Josefson, which lead the city to change the name of the area by the monument to Hyman Josefson Square.

75 years later in Luxembourg, World War II is not forgotten, Americans are warmly received, and the legacy of Hyman Josefson lives on.

Volume 73. Number 3. 2019

By Cara Rinkoff

JWV Member Allan Silverberg biked 60 miles in just one day to honor the memory of those who died in the Holocaust. The 75-year-old Silverberg

From left, Unknown, Krakow JCC Executive Director Jonathan Ornstein, and Allan Silverberg.

took part in the 5th annual Ride for the Living in Poland on June 28, which is sponsored by the Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Krakow. A total of 250 cyclists rode their bikes from Auschwitz to the Krakow JCC.

“We started in the morning and then finished in the evening, and that evening was also very eventful. They had about 700 people at a Shabbat dinner,” Silverberg said. According to the Krakow JCC, each year the dinner serves as the largest gathering of Jews on Shabbat in the city since before World War II.

Silverberg found out about the ride from the JCC director, whom he met seven years ago during his first trip to Poland. Silverberg said he has never done anything like this ride before. “I do bike, but never that far… the most I’ve ever done is about 45, maybe 48, but never 60 [miles].”

Silverberg said he received support from his local community, as well as people he had never met before. “Some people contributed just by wishing me good luck, and some people contributed by being very generous donors. I raised almost $4,100.”

Bernard Offen is one of the riders Silverberg met in Poland. Silverberg said Offen walked from Auschwitz to Krakow when the camp was liberated. This is the second year the 90-year-old has participated in the Ride for the Living.

Silverberg chose to participate in this event because he wanted to visit the hometown of his parents. Stopnica is approximately one hour from Krakow. Silverberg said nearly all traces of Jewish life in that town were erased during the war and in the years after. “I wanted to see something that I was going to be able to relate to, like maybe even see a cemetery,” Silverberg said. “When I got there, we couldn’t find the cemetery itself. We even asked an elderly taxi driver there and he didn’t even know anything about any Jewish history… at least he wasn’t, wouldn’t tell us about that.”

Silverberg also participated in the ride because of his general interest in the Holocaust. He runs Holocaust education programs which had 15,000 attendees over the past two years.

If you are interested in participating in next year’s Ride for the Living, you can find more information on the website, www.ridefortheliving.org.

Volume 73. Number 3. 2019

By Harvey Weiner,
Former JWV National Judge Advocate

here is an old legal adage that bad cases make bad law. It was clear from the start that filing a lawsuit to remove the 40-foot World War I memorial cross in Bladensburg, Maryland was the wrong case at the wrong time. Nevertheless, the American Humanist Association (AHA) brought the case without input from the JWV. If the very conservative U.S. Supreme Court took the case, it was likely the Court would either ignore it or overturn decades of favorable legal precedents, which were mainly achieved by the JWV.

Once the Supreme Court took the case, JWV had no choice but to submit an amicus (friend of court) brief to have its voice heard. There were seven other amicus briefs in addition to the ones filed by the AHA and JWV.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which had represented the JWV in prior war memorial cross cases declined to participate. The law firm of Jenner & Block and the Chicago Law School stepped in to help the JWV.

The JWV brief mentioned that Jewish-Americans had served in all of America’s wars and through the Vietnam War, served in greater numbers than their proportion in the general population, that JWV is the country’s oldest active veterans service organization, that approximately 250,000 Jewish-Americans served in World War I, and that 3,500 Jewish-Americans died in that war. The case was argued on February 27, 2019. That morning, the JWV National Judge Advocate spoke at the Honor Them All rally in front of the courthouse. During arguments, Justice Brett Kavanaugh referenced the JWV amicus brief in one of his questions, which is highly unusual.

On June 20, 2019 the Supreme Court issued its decision which, as expected, allows the cross to remain in place. The majority opinion, concurring opinion, and dissenting opinion all mentioned the JWV amicus brief.

This case helped publicize JWV’s purpose of affirming Jewish-American presence in all of America’s wars.

Both the majority and the dissent quoted from John McCrae’s famous World War I poem “In Flanders Fields,” the first stanza of which is as follows:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt drawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

After the SCOTUS decision, a revised version might read as follows:

In Bladensburg, a cross did stand
Between three streets on public land
That honor those killed in World War One,
Who, through Christ, will live anon
Though not so those who don’t believe.
We are the Court. So do not grieve.
We worked. Seven opinions did we weave.
The cross may stand, though it offends,
In Bladensburg

Volume 73. Number 3. 2019

By Larry Jasper

U.S. military veterans have a new memorial 40-feet beneath the ocean’s surface where they can reflect on their service. The first underwater military

Shawn Campbell, a former staff sergeant and now a master diver, looks at his name on a plaque next to one of the statues at the Circle of Heroes underwater veterans memorial off the coast of Clearwater, Fla. (U.S. Army/Video still by Bill Mills)

monument is located just ten miles off the coast of Clearwater, Florida. The Circle of Heroes Veterans’ Memorial, opened August 5 with a ceremony debuting a dozen life-size statues depicting U.S. military personnel from all branches of service.

Eventually the memorial site will include 24 life-size concrete statues of men and women from the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps., and Navy, according to Brighter Future Florida, a nonprofit group raising donations for the memorial.

The memorial is scheduled to be completed in 2020. All of the statues will surround a center monument featuring five bronze emblems representing each service.

“The Circle of Heroes will be a premier international diving destination and will also serve as a place where veterans with physical and mental injuries can heal,” the website states.

The JWV Department of Florida, in conjunction with Rabbi Elson of the Jewish Welfare Board are planning to dive the memorial in January. If you would like to join the dive, contact Larry Jasper at lmjasper@reagan.com.

Volume 73. Number 3. 2019

By Greg Byrne

The Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. held its 124th National Convention in Richmond, Virginia, while the JWV Ladies Auxiliary met for their 91st National Convention. Delegates from around the country gathered from August 18-23 to hear from speakers, participate in workshops, and conduct the business of the organization.

Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Byrne gave the keynote address and updated members on current initiatives at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). He spoke about a period of transformation happening at the VA with four priorities set by Secretary Robert Wilkie. The priorities include improving customer service, implementing the VA Mission Act, systems modernization, and collaborating with the Department of Defense (DOD) to implement an electronic medical records system. Secretary Byrne said the Mission Act has offered veterans choice in their healthcare decisions by allowing them to seek care in their communities when their nearest VA facility is too far away or doesn’t offer a service. He also highlighted the importance of the collaboration between the VA and DOD to give caregivers a complete view of a patient’s medical history, beginning with their initial exam in boot camp.

Retired Navy Rear Adm. Paul Becker reflected on his 30 years of service as a Naval Intelligence Officer. A member of Commodore Levy Post 380 in Annapolis, Maryland, Becker spoke about leadership and how his Jewish faith inspired him to serve.

Rabbi Irv Elson, Director of the Jewish Welfare Board Jewish Chaplains Council (JWB), spoke to the convention about an exciting new collaboration between the JWB and JWV. The Jews in Green Weekend will bring together Jewish military personnel for fellowship, to share resources, and to build a community, so that when these Jews leave the military, we’ll be able to connect them with their local JWV post or JCC.

Major General Baruch Levy, formerly of Tzevet, the Israel Defense Forces veterans’ organization, gave a briefing on the current situation in Israel and outlined some of his country’s many achievements. Israel is at the center of advancements in medicine and technology, and ranks among the happiest nations in the world. He noted that Jewish Americans should take pride in Israel’s achievements because the unity between the State of Israel and the Jewish American community has been of great importance to Israel’s success.

The Military Coalition President Jack DuTeil continued the discussion on Israel by talking about his experience on this year’s Allied Veterans Mission to Israel. He described the Mission as “the trip of a lifetime.” The trip left him with a lasting appreciation for the people of Israel and the importance of the Israeli/American alliance in the region.

In addition to hearing from speakers, delegates participated in workshops where they could learn skills to help lead their posts and departments when they returned home. Past Department Commander Alan Paley of the Department of Florida and Post Commander Steven Krant of Post 256 in Dallas led a session on leadership, where they discussed best practices for department and post management. The workshop was well-received, and plans are in place for a follow-up session at NEC in February.

A fundraising session led by Lauren Gross of Global Impact provided attendees with fundraising strategies to help support their echelons’ programs. More information on this session can be found in the Membership section of this issue.

The Resolutions Committee met several times to consider proposed resolutions to bring to the convention floor for a vote. Twenty of these proposals were approved at the convention and will be part of JWV’s legislative priorities for the coming year. A complete list of the resolutions passed at convention can be found on our website.

Delegates also considered several proposed amendments to the National Constitution and Bylaws. After a review by the Constitution and Bylaws Committee, the convention approved two constitutional amendments and one amendment to the bylaws. Further explanation of these changes can be found in National Commander Harvey Weiner’s article in this issue.

The final event of the convention was the National Commander’s Banquet honoring outgoing National Commander Barry Schneider. During his term, Schneider travelled more than 71,000 miles and visited members in 22 state. The evening concluded with the installation of the new National Commander, Harvey Weiner of the Department of Massachusetts.

Thank you to all who participated in this year’s convention, and we hope to see you next August in Jacksonville, Florida.

Volume 73. Number 3. 2019