The Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. mourns those people that were lost at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh over this last Shabbat Weekend. We also want to specifically mention both Mr. Sylvan Simon and Melvin Wax, two of the victims from the synagogue who both served in the military during the Korean War period. We cannot express our thanks to the courageous law enforcement officers who were wounded while protecting others. We wish all who were injured a complete Refuah Shleimah and a rapid return to health of mind and body.

To the members of Posts 499, 718 and 785, know that the National Organization stands in solidarity with you. We hope and pray for the safety of your members and the entire Jewish Community of Pittsburgh and that senseless acts of violence of this kind cease to occur. May our G-d in Heaven grant peace to the United States of America, Israel and all mankind.

In the coming days we are working on reinforcing our commitment to the safety and security of our Jewish community in Pittsburgh as well as our locations in the U.S. and Worldwide. We were incredibly grateful to hear messages of support from our elected officials at all levels during this period of immense grief.

This deplorable assault on the Jewish community, be it in any city in the United States or the world requires an immediate response, and the Jewish War Veterans stands ready to support fellow Jewish Communities whenever and wherever we can.

The Jewish War Veterans of the USA is deeply saddened by the passing of U.S. Senator John S. McCain III.  Senator McCain, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was a strong supporter of our nation’s military personnel and of our veterans. National Commander Dr. Barry S. Schneider said, “Senator McCain will be sorely missed by the military and veterans community!  He will always be remembered as a hero of our country.”  Following five and a half years as a POW in North Vietnam, Senator McCain served as a two-term U.S. congressman and six-term U.S. senator from Arizona.

(Washington, DC) Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. (JWV) was extremely shocked by the announcement that President Trump will travel to Paris to mark Veterans Day.  We urge the President to remain in the United States for our National Veterans Day activities.

Veterans Day was originally created to celebrate Armistice Day, which is the end of World War I, and with the 100th anniversary of the armistice rapidly approaching, it is undeniable that we must acknowledge the sacrifices that World War I American soldiers made for this country.  On Veterans Day, we must also celebrate the service of LIVING soldiers and sailors.

We request that President Trump leads the ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and being with the National VSO leaders on the dais for the ceremonies at Arlington.  Afterwards, we request that he attend the VSO reception with members of VSOs around the country.  From those leaders, President Trump will surely hear about the heroism and sacrifices that Americans made during World War I and continue to make today.  

The Jewish War Veterans of the USA (JWV) is delighted to announce that Dr. Barry J. Schneider was elected National Commander at its 123rd Annual National Convention in Tampa, Florida.

National Commander Schneider is a retired Air Force Major with 20 years of active military service.  His assignments included NORAD IG Team, Combat Crew Commander, and Instructor Crew Commander and Standardization Evaluator for both Titan II and Minuteman Strategic Missile Weapon Systems.  He graduated from the Squadron Officers school, Air Command & Staff College, Command Staff Officers course and Defense Institute for Security Assistance Management.

Barry worked for the Fort Worth Independent School District for 16 years, serving as a Central Office Administrator in the Human Resources Department, and became a Certified Records Manager.  He completely revamped the procedure for maintaining and preserving employee records for the FWISD.

In 1994, Barry joined Jewish War Veterans Post 755 in Fort Worth, TX, and became a life member.  Barry served as Post Commander from 2005-2007 and went on to serve as commander of the Department of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma (TALO) from 2012-2014.  At the national level, he has served as Chairman of JWV’s Vietnam Veterans Committee and Scouting Committee, and Vice-Chairman of the Youth Achievement Committee.

Barry has been a lifelong Boy Scout.  As a youth, he earned the Eagle Scout award and the Ner Tamid Jewish religious emblem.  As an adult, he served as Assistant District Commissioner for BSA Transatlantic Council in Turkey and Morocco.  He was awarded the Silver Beaver award for sustained exemplary service and the Shofar Jewish religious award for service to Jewish Scouting.

The Jewish Community is paramount to Barry.  He was selected as the B’nai B’rith Jewish Person of the Year for Fort Worth and Tarrant County in 2010.  He has served as President of Temple Beth Shalom in Arlington, TX, President of the Fort Worth chapter of B’nai B’rith, and Campaign Chairman and President of the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County.

Barry earned a BA in History from California State College in 1967, MEd in Guidance and Counseling from South Dakota State University in 1976, MA in Management from Webster University in 1986, and Ed.D in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University in 1996.

Barry was born and raised in St. Louis, MO.  He was married to Dolores (Finkelstein) for 49 years.  Dolores passed away in 2015.  They have two children, daughter Myla and son Eric and two grandchildren.  Myla and her husband Gary have two children, Eli and Coby.

We wish Barry a successful year!

The Jewish War Veterans of the USA is extremely pleased with the Senate’s quick, bipartisan confirmation of Robert Wilkie to be the 10th Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. As acting secretary, Robert Wilkie and his staff have reached out to veteran service organizations and have worked to provide needed support.  He was a key player in moving the VA Mission Act through Congress. Mr. Wilkie recently participated with the Veterans Day National Committee, giving his leadership to an important planning group.  JWV congratulates Secretary Wilkie!

The Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. (JWV) is proud to announce that after months of fighting to correct the slanderous statements about Jewish American military service by Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, Ms. Hotovely has finally apologized to all Jewish American service members and veterans as well to JWV as the premier Jewish American Veteran organization.  On January 28, 2018, Minister Hotovely sent a letter where she apologized to Jewish American service members and veterans of all wars.  “My words were shortsighted and not reflective of my beliefs, and I deeply apologize,” she said.

Minister Hotovely previously apologized on Israeli television about her comments, but she only apologized to lone soldiers in Israel and to American soldiers that served in World War II.  She conveniently left out the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – the same wars she said American Jews did not serve in.  On January 18, 2017, the Past National Commanders of the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. penned a letter to Ambassador Ron Dermer to demand that Minister Hotovely apologize directly to the Jewish veterans of all conflicts and to apologize to those families who have lost someone fighting for our shared democratic values.

Ms. Hotovely has finally corrected this injustice, and we hope to see her at the Museum of American Jewish Military History on her next visit to Washington, DC.  Until then, JWV will continue to work on educating the American and Israeli public about the proud and rich history of Jewish American military service.Tzipi Hotovely Letter

Last week the United Nations (U.N.) held a special emergency session that “demanded” that all countries comply with UN Security Council resolutions regarding the status of Jerusalem, following the United States recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.  In response to this U.N. action, the U.S. government has cut millions of dollars in aid to the U.N. and still has not complied with their demands.

The Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. applauds the U.S. response because, as we see it, this U.N. resolution was not only about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  It was about something bigger – America’s intolerance of bigotry.

As Americans, there are certain truths that we hold self-evident, and one of those truths is that citizens of the world have the right to liberty no matter their race, religion or creed.  However, modern anti-Semitism, under the guise of anti-Zionism, has been allowed to flourish virtually unchallenged in the U.N.  Let us be clear, there is a fine line between criticism of the state of Israel and anti-Semitism.  However, when U.N. members are allowed to speak on the U.N. floor about Jews “sucking the blood” of their Muslim neighbors, that line has been crossed.

It’s time to recognize that the U.N. has a serious anti-Semitism problem.  The U.N. has disproportionately targeted Israel, the only country with a Jewish majority, in its resolutions and Human Rights Council.  By voting “no”, the United States stood up for its values and did not back down in the face of U.N. bullying.

As George Washington wrote to the Rhode Island Jewish Congregation, Mikveh Israel, “For happily the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.”

Yesterday, President Donald Trump made a historic move to fulfill his campaign promise to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem – a welcome move for us here at the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A.    For the past 20 years, U.S. presidential candidates have promised the American and Israeli people to move the embassy to Jerusalem upon their election.  However, once elected, Presidents have back away from their promises – fearing it would undermine peace talks and incite violence.

We cannot not be intimidated because of the possibility that recognizing Jerusalem will incite violence.  If violence results because of the move, it will be unfortunate, but it is also worth remembering that President Truman’s recognition of Israel was also met with violence – which ended with Israel having more territory than previously recommended in the U.N. Partition Plan.

Every president since President Truman has failed to bring about a lasting peace to the conflict.   For nearly 70 years, American presidents have been proposing the same solutions over and over again, while expecting different results.  It has clearly been shown that maintaining the status quo only emboldens Palestinian terrorism and leads to more bloodshed.

Whether the international community recognizes it or not, Jerusalem is both the ancient and modern the capital of Israel.  The Knesset, the Prime Minister’s offices and the bulk of Israeli government institutions are all located in Jerusalem.  Due to the historical connection between Judaism and Jerusalem as their capital, it is unlikely that Israelis will ever be moved to change the location of their capital.  Basically, having the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv was not merely only a symbolic gesture to appease those that still question Israel’s legitimacy, but also, it is just a humongous waste of gas.

We hope that this momentous decision by the Trump administration will lead bring a lasting peace in the region.  It shows that America supports Israel’s legitimacy and its rights as a sovereign state, including its right to choose its own capital.  Here at Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A., we commend President Trump on his move.  We know that whatever deal decided upon by the Israelis and Palestinians, there is one thing we know for sure – Jerusalem is and will always be the heart and capital of Israel.

The Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely, went on Israeli news over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend claiming that American Jews are a “people that never send their kids to fight for their country.  Most of the Jews don’t have children serving as soldiers, going to the Marines, going to Afghanistan, going to Iraq”.  As much as the Israelis resent American Jews meddling into their business, we Americans have the same reservations.

Hotovely’s comments were in relation to the growing American-Israeli divide, but there is something that she missed – it is easy to be a Jew in Israel, but in America, it takes work.  Israeli identity is ingrained in Jewish identity, and Judaism is a part of the culture.  Jewish Americans, on the other hand, have to make the decision of whether or not to be Jewish, and how their Judaism might affect their acceptance into the mainstream American culture.

I was not surprised to see that Lee Rogers, a columnist from the Neo-Nazi Daily Stormer, use Hotovely’s words against American Jews, “The last thing the Jews want are the American people waking up to the fact that they’re fighting wars for them even though few Jews serve themselves.”  Now, I expect a rabid anti-Semite to use anti-Semitic tropes against American Jews, but when the comments originate from a fellow Jew – albeit an Israeli Jew – that especially hurts.

Which gets to my next point – the idea of Jews not serving in proportion to their population is an old anti-Semitic lie that reached its heyday in Nazi Germany.  In fact, we again saw it used this year in Charlottesville when we saw Neo-Nazis chanting, “Blood and Soil” – which refers to the idea that only white Americans have spilled blood for this country.

We know that American Jews have fought and died for our country as far back as Asser Levy and his comrades in the New Amsterdam colony.  Since then, Jews have fought for America in every major war, and in World War II, Jews served disproportionately more than the rest of the population.  Thousands of medals have been awarded to American Jews, and to date, 27 American Jews have been awarded the Medal of Honor.

American Jews had raised their hands to enlist at a same rate as other Americans.  Thousands have fought in the 16 year long war which began with the 9/11 attacks, and currently, there are 15,000 American Jews serving on active duty and an additional 5,000 serving in the Guard and the Reserves.  In any case, I dare Hotovely to tell the parents of the 56 fallen Iraq and Afghanistan Jewish American heroes that American Jews don’t serve.  These Jewish Gold Star Families have made the ultimate sacrifice in protecting America and American values.

Here at JWV, we invite Deputy Foreign Minister to come meet with representatives of the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. and visit the National Museum of American Jewish Military History in Washington, D.C. so that she can learn more about Jewish American Military History.  We hope she takes us up on our offer.

This week, Representative Luis Gutierrez went off on a rant about Chief of Staff General (ret) John Kelly – stating that he was a “disgrace to the uniform” and likening him to white supremacists.  General Kelly recently assumed the position of Chief of Staff in the White House, and before that, he was the director of Homeland Security.

It seems that Mr. Gutierrez is placing all of his frustration with the Trump administration on General Kelly, who is a decorated General with an exemplary military service.  Gutierrez, who has never worn the uniform, thought it was acceptable to slander General Kelly’s military service over this partisan issue.

For those unfamiliar with the military, you can disagree with your commanding officer, but at the end of the day, they make a decision and you follow it.  It is not incongruent with General Kelly’s military service to execute a lawful order from the commander in chief.  In fact, it is quite the opposite.

In the future, we hope that any lawmakers refrain from defaming the military service of any veterans in an effort to gain political brownie points.  General Kelly is in no way a disgrace to the uniform.  We recommend that Representative Gutierrez rescind his earlier comments and issue an apology to General Kelly.