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

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. Read more

The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 (S. 1094) was signed on June 23, 2017 to the great relief of many veterans who have suffered due to negligent VA employees and practices. This bill, nicknamed the “You’re Fired” bill, allows managers to fire employees with less evidence and it shortens the appeals process.

This bill was in response to the 2014 VA Scandal, where veterans died waiting for care at the Phoenix VA medical center. JWV quickly took up action on this issue, and we have been raising awareness on the issue ever since. This year, Carl Singer included this legislation in JWV’s 2017 Legislative Priorities.

Before this bill was passed, the odds of a federal employee being fired were about one to five hundred. VA employees had unfathomable job security due to complicated laws, bureaucracy and well-funded lobbying groups. According to the VA, it used to take up to 275 days to discipline a nurse charged with operating on a veteran drunk – a charge that would immediately get an employee fired in the civilian sector.

“There is nothing more demoralizing than being in an organization, working alongside people that everybody knows no longer shares the values, the morals (and) the ethics of the vast majority of people who go to work every day for the right reasons,” said VA Secretary Shulkin.

“When I was giving testimony in March, I spoke with Congressman Walz about this bill. He said that they were making efforts on this piece of legislation. I am glad that it has come to fruition,” said National Commander COL Carl Singer. JWV welcomes this legislation, and we hope that it brings positive changes for our veterans in need of care.

About Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America
Founded in 1896, the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America is one of oldest active veterans’ organizations in America. JWV is dedicated to upholding America’s democratic traditions and fighting bigotry, prejudice, injustice, and discrimination of all kinds. As a national organization, JWV represents the voice of America’s Jewish veterans on issues related to veterans’ benefits, foreign policy, and national security. JWV also commits itself to the assistance of oppressed Jews worldwide.