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.
On August 11th, an estimated 100 white supremacists marched through the University of Virginia (UVA) campus with their tiki torches full of citronella and their hearts filled with hate. They were recorded shouting racist, anti-Semitic Nazi slogans – such as “Blood and Soil” and “Jews will not replace us”.
The next day, counter protesters showed up to face the over 4,000 white supremacists who were gathered. The situation devolved into one of the saddest days for American democracy. Citizens were beating each other bloody, and the National Guard was ultimately called in after a State of Emergency was enacted in Virginia. While the crowds were dispersing, a white supremacist plowed his car into a group of counter protesters – this terrorist act killed 1 and left injured 19.
This is not America. The United States of America is the land of liberty, and to quote George Bernard Shaw said, “liberty means responsibility – that is why most men dread it.” When people are using hate in your name, you have the responsibility to call them out and tell them this is not what you stand for. When you are a part of one of the worst displays of anarchy in this nation’s recent history, you are responsible for your action or lack thereof.
It is important to remember that this is not the first time America has seen Nazi symbols marching through her streets. In the 1930’s, Nazi sympathizers, called Bunds, would proudly hold rallies, assemble youth camps and march through the streets of our nation. The Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. (JWV) were the first to see that this hate has no place in America. We organized over 10,000 members to march through the streets of New York, an event that ended up on the front page of every major newspaper.
After that parade, “Hitler and his cohorts were made to see that America was aroused – that Americans would not stand for atrocities and injustices against any minority people.” Today, the white supremacists must be made to see that there is no place for their hatred in our society.
It is also important to remember that these white supremacists were 4,000 people out 360 million citizens of America, and they are by no means the majority. Even so, JWV remains committed to taking a strong active role against the growing white supremacist movement. JWV members have been in contact with the UVA Hillel, supporting them within our means. We remain vigilant within our own communities, and will help in any way if called upon.
“Today the JWV continues to stand firmly against hatred. We call upon all elected officials at all echelons of government to clearly speak out against White Supremacists, Neo-Nazi’s and their fellow travelers,” stated National Commander Carl Singer.
On July 26, 2017, President Trump announced in a series of tweets that transgender troops would no longer be allowed to serve in the military – saying the U.S. military “would not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”
Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. stands for respecting all individuals without regard to race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. We remain committed to supporting all are troops no matter their background. Those that serve honorably deserve the same respect and honor as any other member of the Armed Forces.
We advise that the President work with his Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense to develop a policy that supports factual analysis and has respect for the individuals who have served our nation proudly. We believe that by listening to wise council, the President will be able to make the right decision that supports our troops and ensures our national security.
“Echoing what the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said…and to quote a former office mate of mine, the late Army General Maxwell R. Thurman, ‘be all you can be.’ We intend for the U.S. military to employ our nation’s best and brightest in protecting our country and upholding the values of the American people. Permitting qualified individuals from all backgrounds serves this goal,” says JWV National Commander COL Carl A. Singer.
On July 11th, Representative Garret Graves (R-LA) introduced a modified amendment to Section 632 on the Military Patron Act (HR 2810). The amendment mandates that the DoD will submit a “cost-benefit analysis” on commissaries in order to reduce the costs of operating the commissaries and exchanges by 2 billion dollars over the next four years, while not raising costs for patrons.
Commissaries and Exchanges provide food and other necessary house hold items that are needed on a day to day basis for service members, their family and veterans. Commissaries started back in 1825 when Army soldiers could purchase household items from an on-post store at the cost of the item. Since then, this tradition has lived on – helping our service members provide for themselves and their families.
Commissaries still provide at cost products to our service members today, which is still a much needed provision. An Army private with a family of four makes less than $2000 a month. To make those dollars work for them, they rely on services like the Commissaries and Exchanges to provide for their family.
Although the amendment calls for a review of the services and asks for the DoD to make recommendation, the DoD has historically called for dismantling whole institutions as they have done with Military Medical Treatment Facilities and the Base Realignment and Closure Acts. JWV calls on members of Congress to make sure that our Commissaries and Exchanges remain open to our veterans, service members and their families.
“JWV deplores the lack of support for our service members as demonstrated by the wrangling over Commissary and Exchange operations. Despite the assertions that we need and must have a strong military we see measures that harm our service members and their families. Do we again want to see junior enlisted service members applying for food stamps and other government aid for their families,” said National Commander Carl Singer.
When the new administration took office on January 20, 2017, they failed to appoint a special envoy to head the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. Even after an 86% increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the first quarter of 2017 with over 145 bomb threats to Jewish institutions and multiple Jewish cemetery desecrations, the position astonishingly remained unfilled. As of July 1, 2017, the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism is officially closed, ensuring that no one within the administration of President Donald Trump is specifically working on combating anti-Semitism.
“The State Department’s closing the office is both short-sighted and ill-timed. Anti-Semitism remains a grim reality in today’s world and must be vigorously addressed. I’m quite frankly surprised given the positive actions by Ambassador Nikki Haley in fighting anti-Semitism at the United Nations, one finds the State Department’s actions baffling. I find myself asking if the ghost of John Foster Dulles is in the room,” said JWV National Commander COL Carl Singer.
After the Global Anti-Semitism Act of 2004 was signed into effect by President George W. Bush, the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism has laid out a working definition of anti-Semitism as well as kept a tally of anti-Semitic incidents throughout the globe. This is particularly important because the new definition of anti-Semitism includes anti-Zionist activities that have crossed the line into anti-Semitism, which we all sadly know far too well can and does happen.
This year, a German court ruled that a 2014 bombing of a German synagogue was not anti-Semitic, but rather, it was anti-Zionist – even though the synagogue was targeted specifically because it was a Jewish institution and not an Israeli consulate. Because of the definition set by the special envoy to the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, this kind of attack would be considered a hate crime in the United States, not a simple act of arson, and it would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
When questioned in June about the special envoy position, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was non-committal about appointing an envoy and he insinuated that having a special envoy was counterproductive to fighting anti-Semitism. He explained that people who are responsible for implementing U.S. policy would somehow decide it was not their responsibility to fight anti-Semitism because someone else is already doing it – fighting anti-Semitism is everyone’s responsibility.
After the office was closed on the first, Shoshana Simones, a 29 year old Make-A-Wish “wish manager”, pulled into her home after her Fourth of July vacation to see a swastika and the word “Jew” spray painted in black on her home with her husband and young daughter in the car. These types of incidents will continue to persist until this administration decides to make fighting anti-Semitism a priority.
Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. urges the administration and Secretary Tillerson to immediately appoint a special envoy of the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism and have a working staff actively combating anti-Semitism. As the philosopher Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” and good men are indeed doing nothing right now. JWV is committed to fighting this evil as we have always done. We ask people to write and call their representatives and senators, urging them to tell the administration to appoint a special envoy. If you need help finding your representatives, please contact JWV National Headquarte
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